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Buying a used car can be a lot. A lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of stress. It’s time to address how to take all that “a lot” and turn it into “a little”. A little research, a little common sense, and a lot of money saved. By putting a little time and effort into your considerations, you can save yourself a massive headache on one of the most important purchases anyone makes. Enthusiast or not, these are the best ways to buy yourself that new used car.

Forums are your friend

Two men talk at a Toyota used car lot next to a 4Runner
A Toyota used car lot | Gary Gardiner via Getty Images

First and foremost, know what you want. Do you have kids? 72 cats? A tiger? All important considerations. So, what does each prospective car on your list do best? By creating a list of similar cars, you can be sure to get the used car experience you want, and nothing you don’t; this includes optional extras. These optional extras and specifics are where forums come in.

No matter the car, there’s a forum of enthusiasts out there who are way nerdier about that 2008 Toyota RAV4 than anyone has any right to be. That’s great because these forums can be used to make informed decisions about the items listed above. Moreover, the forums are extremely useful for discerning what known issues each of your prospective cars has and what model years to avoid. For example, don’t buy an E46 BMW M3 older than 2003 because the rod bearings will fail. Better yet, don’t buy one at all so I can finally afford one.

Used car auctions can help too

A silver Porsche convertible at auction at Bonham's
A 964 Porsche Convertible at Bonham’s auction | Benoit Doppagne via Getty Images

Speaking of enthusiast cars, enthusiast auctions have earned a special place in the auto buying scene of late. The pandemic has certainly helped with this, as everyone is at home on Bring-a-Trailer. Non-enthusiasts fret not, as these auctions can be of use to you too. The auctions are a great place to find your next ride, car freak or not. The auctions also serve an additional purpose.

Use them to determine what people are willing to pay for a car you may want. Armed with that knowledge it will be significantly easier to pay what you want for the vehicle you want. Every once in a while, a real deal can be had on popular auction sites like Cars and Bids. However, only do this if you feel confident in the mechanical condition of a car- you won’t be able to inspect it before purchasing the vehicle. Thankfully, auction houses are very strict about the cars they admit and honest about the work vehicles will need.


Subaru's star logo
Subaru are a staple in the used car market | Metin Aktas via Getty Images

Buyer’s Guide: 2014-2017 Toyota 4Runner

This is just as important as knowing exactly what options and trim levels to look for. Patience really is a virtue, especially with the absurd used market right now. Wait for the right car, and it will come. It’s not just personification, it’s solid financial practice. Doing so allows you to make informed and level-headed decisions about your next ride. Like not buying that M3 that I also want. Armed with this knowledge, your next automobile purchase should be a little more fun, and a lot easier.