With so many cars lasting 200,000 miles or more, buying a used car is becoming a safer bet. In fact, almost half of all car owners bought their vehicles used. Consumer Reports just surveyed a thousand used-car owners and can tell you how to save big.
Consumer Reports’ used-car buyer survey shows that haggling on the price really pays. Most of the survey respondents asked for a lower price on the used car they bought and were successful 80 percent of the time. The median savings was about $900. The survey showed that the most effective haggling method is to simply ask for a lower price.
In the past five years, the median price for a used car, model year 2011 or newer, is $20,000, although you pay less from a used-car dealer—and chances are even less if you buy privately. Consumer Reports recommends buying the most recent model year available with the widest array of safety and technology features.
Consumer Reports says some of the best used-car choices are:
- 2012 Toyota Camry (new: $30,005; used: $20,675 to $22,450)
- 2012 Honda Accord (new: $32,030; used: $19,300 to $21,300)
- 2011 Toyota RAV4 (new: $28,875; used: $19,750 to $22,150)
They cost around $10,000 less used than they did new.
Before you buy, Consumer Reports says to look for a vehicle that has less than 50,000 miles, and be sure to have any used car inspected by a mechanic you trust.
One out of four people in the Consumer Reports survey bought a car privately rather than from a dealership. They tended to pay less and to be happier with the deal. But if you’re looking for a late-model used car—2011 or later—you’re most likely going to find one at a dealership.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.