I remember when I was going to be a sophomore in high school. I was 16. Kind of a cool dude. Played on the football team. World at my fingertips. Except for one thing. I needed wheels. I needed my sweet whip to cruise down the main drag of town, not have to rely on mom to drive us around.

“Mom… can I have a car? I have my driver’s license now!”

Begrudgingly, I got a car. It wasn’t the car I wanted. It was this old beat up coke can of a car. And I loved it. I actually wish that I never got rid of that old beat up Nissan.

With school back in session, it’s common place for some of the older teenager group in the market for used vehicles. And you yourself might be looking for a used vehicle, too. But, where are the best places to look for used vehicles? What should you look out for when looking at used/pre-owned vehicles?

Let’s take a quick look.

What to do

First, we need to figure out what our budget is. Knowing your limit, financially and logically, is the first and probably most important step in buying a used vehicle. If you have a limit of $4000, you really need to stick to that limit so you don’t go beyond what you need, regardless of what your inner child says. So, that shiny Mustang GT may have to wait.

Next, we recommend that you research the model/models you are interested in. Research the model to death. Search on the internet, ask questions to people who have that model, check forums, etc. You want to have a big understanding of the car you’re looking for like weak points, recalls, typical repair costs, and known issues in the model. Winding up with a used lemon is a dreadful prospect that nobody wants to endure.

When we’ve settled on the car that we want, we know more about the car than the manufacturer even knows…it’s time to be more active in shopping. It’s time to look at some of the places you can buy used vehicles.

Where to buy

  • Pre-owned vehicle dealerships

    One of the best, if not THE best places to find used vehicles are pre-owned dealerships. These places specialize in pre-owned cars and trucks, and provide some of the safest buying experiences when it comes to looking at used cars.

    Pre-owned dealerships often have extensive checklists they perform on their vehicles. One such dealership is LRA Auto Sales. LRA will inspect and check all vehicles prior to them leaving the lot. With a lot of certified pre-owned vehicles, additional warranties may be purchased to further ensure a solid buying experience, as well as being able to look up vehicle history with Carfax. By and far the best way to safely buy a used vehicle is at one of these dealerships. If you’re looking for more information, please check out LRA Auto Sales.

  • Online Auto Marketplaces

    A much more recent innovation in car buying is the use of online marketplaces. More reputable than places like, say, Ebay or Craigslist, searching for cars using certain online marketplaces can take some the hassle out of buying used vehicles. One benefit to the bigger online marketplaces is if they do not have the vehicle you’re looking for, they may be able to put you into contact with pre-owned vehicle dealerships to find the car of your dreams.

    One of the pitfalls to these online marketplaces is that you may not actually be able to see the vehicle in person. Purchasing a used vehicle without being able to see or drive said vehicle can be a very uneasy prospect.

  • Private party/classified listings

    The riskiest of options, unfortunately.

    Using places like Craigslist, newspaper classified ads, and/or Ebay, you’re making a leap of faith. While it is entirely possible to find an amazing deal on a fantastic car, there is still the underlying risk of getting a heap of scrap that dies 3 miles down the road. The problem here is that a majority of people that wind up selling their cars on these classified listings are not mechanics and thus may not know all of the problems that their vehicle may have or potentially have. The higher the mileage, the higher the risk.

    That’s not to say that the experience is all bad. If this route is something that you are choosing to undertake, we strongly recommend that you take your mechanic with you (if applicable) when you go to view said vehicle and take it for a test drive. If you don’t have a mechanic, check around to various auto shops and see if they would do a used vehicle inspection for you. Bring your potential buy to Rob’s Automotive Service Center, and our certified service mechanics will be able to diagnose and advise you on the possible issues with the vehicle. After all, this is going to be your ride, your way to get to and from work/school and home. You want peace of mind knowing that you made a wise decision with your purchase.

Buying a used vehicle for yourself or for your budding teenager can be a somewhat difficult process, with there being so many options and places to go. To prevent too many headaches, we here at Rob’s do very much recommend the pre-owned dealership avenue, as it can provide the safest, most comfortable buying process. Once again, we recommend LRA Auto Sales to best take care of you and your pre-owned vehicle needs.