Shopping for a Pre-Owned Vehicle

It is estimated that more than 14 million new cars will be sold in the U.S. this year. If you think that’s a lot, then you haven’t taken a look at the pre-owned car market. It varies month to month, but generally pre-owned car sales are at a three to one ratio over new car sales. Pre-owned car sales in 2012 totaled over 40 million.

Pre-owned car shoppers tend to have different priorities than new car shoppers. Pre-owned cars are more of a choice for budget-conscious consumers. The main appeal of a pre-owned car is that someone else took the hit on depreciation, which is great for the savvy shopper!

Though budget tends to be a primary concern for pre-owned car shoppers, smart buyers know that getting a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle is about more than price. Buying a pre-owned car is really about getting the most vehicle for the money. Most pre-owned car shoppers know to get a vehicle history report, mechanic’s evaluation and to do a thorough test drive on any vehicle they consider, but smart pre-owned car buyers start their shopping by narrowing down their list to just the best pre-owned car models. Here’s how they do it.

 

Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles gives customers the peace of mind they are looking for.
Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles gives customers the peace of mind they are looking for.

5 Things To Look For in a Good

Pre-Owned Vehicle

 

Performance

No matter how low the price goes, there is no substitution for performance. A detailed test drive is the best way to determine if you and the vehicle are compatible and if the performance is up to your standards. Not all drivers and all vehicles are meant to be, but when it’s right, you will know! Another great tip is to start reading the reviews from actual drivers, not just the manufacturer blurbs available on the web. Driver’s reviews can give you an insight on how the vehicle holds up over time and what potential issues might arise. A car that drove poorly when it was first released probably hasn’t improved with age, while a car with plenty of power, stable handling and good fuel economy when it was new is likely to remain a decent performer for many years to come.

Interior

Just like with performance, a car that had a low-quality, uncomfortable interior when it was new will probably be much worse for wear as a used car. Studying reviews from when a car was new should tell you how many seats there are, if they’re comfortable and what kinds of materials are used in the making of the interior. Reviewers also often mention if they think the materials should hold up well over time. You’ll also get actual dimensions for things like cargo and passenger space, which a lot of used car sellers might simply describe as “big.”

 

Reliability

Reliability is one of the most important factors used car buyers look for. Just from surveying our own Chuck Fairbanks family, we know that a great price is wonderful, but if the vehicle isn’t reliable a customer isn’t going to want to drive it home, much less let their children drive it. The most reliable models, however, may not be the ones that first come to mind. There are several brands that do well with dependability, but still face challenges with consumer perception. Savvy shoppers should do their due diligence and research brands with an open mind.

Though individual pre-owned cars will vary, it’s easy to find reliability ratings for how dependable a specific model has been over the years. J.D. Power and Associates rates cars that are three years old or older in its Vehicle Dependability Study, which tracks mechanical problems reported by car owners. For newer cars, J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study measures problems experienced by vehicle owners in the first months of ownership. These two studies are valuable tools available for consumers.

Safety

Smart pre-owned car shoppers know that sacrificing safety to save money is a bad move. New vehicle models undergo strenuous testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You can use these ratings to determine how safe a vehicle is likely to be in the long run and whether or not you would be interested in looking further into this type of vehicle. Beyond looking for strong crash test ratings from when the car was new, look for safety features like electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.

Operating Costs

Finally, a pre-owned vehicle doesn’t make much sense as a budget proposition if it’s expensive to own. A car’s operating cost is how much it will cost to actually use the car and includes things like fuel, maintenance and repair costs. Finding the best pre-owned car means not only finding one with a price that fits your budget, but also one with operating costs that you can afford over the long haul. You might get a great deal on a car with an opulent interior, sporty performance and excellent safety ratings, but if the maintenance costs are going to overspend your budget, it’s not the best car for you.

The perfect pre-owned vehicle for you is out there, it might not be at the dealership the first time you take a spin around the lot. The Pre-owned market is a fast moving machine with a lot of parts. Don’t be afraid to let the sales team know what you are looking for and they should be able to steer you in the right direction. If you aren’t crazy about the choices on the lot the first time, come back in a few days! People trade in great cars every single day! Someone could be trading in your next vehicle right now!

Odometer Fraud: How to Spot It

odometerfraudOdometer fraud is a problem that has plagued the automotive industry since its beginning and is a problem that won’t likely go away any time soon. With so many people buying and selling vehicles on sites like Craigslist and Facebook, becoming a victim of odometer fraud is a very likely possibility.

Odometer fraud occurs when a seller alters the odometer on the vehicle and/or documentation to make the mileage appear less than what it really is. This is illegal in every state and auto experts say it is relatively easy to do even when the odometer is digital. On the surface, odometer fraud affects the overall value of the vehicle because the seller can charge more for a vehicle with fewer miles. Dig a little deeper and realize that a vehicle that has a high amount of miles is more likely to be due for major repair work. That is a risk that some people are willing to take, but it is a risk that the consumer should be aware of.

The Federal Truth In Mileage Act (TIMA) requires sellers to provide actual, truthful odometer readings and to disclose any known inaccuracies. TIMA makes odometer fraud a felony and falsifying mileage or failing to disclose that an odometer has been altered can result in fines and/or imprisonment.

An invaluable tool when buying a pre-owned vehicle, whether at a dealership, a small business or from a friend or acquaintance is a CARFAX history report. While not completely infallible, CARFAX is one of most reliable tools in the industry.  A CARFAX history report shows a potential buyer all of the details about the vehicle such as lemon history, total loss accident history, vehicle registration, title information etc.

Here are some tips for not falling victim to odometer fraud, as taken from the CARFAX website:

  • Check that the car’s wear and tear is consistent with the odometer reading.
  • Ask the seller for service records and note the mileage on them.
  • Buy from a recommended dealership or trusted seller.
  • Be wary of “too good to be true” deals or overly-aggressive sellers who want a quick sale.
  • Get a CARFAX Vehicle History Report from the seller or at CARFAX.com.
  • Have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle and check its computer.

 

If you suspect that you have been a victim of odometer fraud, the next step is to report it to the authorities. In Texas, the Attorney General handles odometer fraud and you can report it here: http://www.oag.state.tx.us

 

What Does “GM-Certified” really mean?

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Our Pre-Owned Building 2014

GM Certified means “No worries”.

A simple statement, but what does it really mean? Security and Peace of   Mind.

To General Motors, it means security, the security that you will have knowing that the Pre-Owned GM vehicle that you are purchasing meets or exceeds our standard for quality and dependability. It also means “Peace of Mind” the protection of the most comprehensive warranty/maintenance program offered on an American Pre-Owned vehicle.

For a GM vehicle to be certified, it must be 5 years old or newer and have less than 75,000 miles, but the requirements don’t stop there. The vehicle must pass General Motor’s 172 point quality inspection, a stringent test of everything from the engine’s main components to the performance of its safety and comfort features.  Our factory trained technicians ensure that every component of the vehicle, from the drive train to the windshield wipers, is in good working condition. Next the vehicle is taken out for a road test and put through the paces of everyday driving, then it is put up on a lift so the under body can be inspected and then checked completely for cosmetic flaws. If the technicians find a component is not in good working order, the technicians will recondition it to factory standards before they will give the vehicle its certification.

When you purchase a GM Certified vehicle, you will receive the following benefits in addition to any existing factory warranty:

  • Access to a free CARFAX Vehicle History Report
  • 3 day/150 mile Complete Satisfaction Guarantee
  • 12 month/12,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
  • 2 year/30,000 mile scheduled maintenance contract- oil changes and tire rotations
  • 5 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty
  • Complimentary multi-point vehicle inspection anytime service work is performed
  • Courtesy transportation
  • 24 hour Roadside Assistance
  • Free 3 month trial of Sirius XM radio and OnStar

These features are completely transferable, which adds to the resale value of your GM vehicle. These warranties are also deductible-free. In addition, GM Financing offers incentive interest rates on their certified vehicles, allowing you the opportunity to get low interest rates generally reserved for new vehicle purchases.

It is important to note that not every pre-owned vehicle on the lot is certified. If you are unsure about whether or not a vehicle is certified, it is best to ask a sales person to verify. There are two quick ways to tell if a  pre-owned vehicle is certified on our website, it will say CERTIFIED next to the description of the vehicle and it will also have a certified badge next to the details of the vehicle.

GM Certified vehicles are like the cream of the crop on the pre-owned lot, so don’t be afraid to let the sales person know that you want the best. All of this adds up to make sure our customers have no worries. It’s our way of saying thank you for choosing a GM product, and it allows us to provide you with the quality, security and dependability long associated with the General Motors name.