Why Consumer Reports Says You Should Cast a Wide Net and Do Your Research When Car Shopping

Choosing a used car has long been considered a strategy for saving money while car shopping. However, since the pandemic’s start, used car prices have spiked, making finding an affordable car more complicated than it used to be. Consumer Reports has stated a few strategies that interested buyers can use to save money while shopping, and one of these tips is to cast a wide net.

Used car prices are falling but not quickly

A person potentially doing research when car shopping before making the purchase.
Car dealership | Angus Mordant

The good news for consumers is that used car prices are declining, but it is not happening quickly. Prices might be lower now than last year, but they are still considerably higher than before the pandemic. 

Used car prices began to increase because of a low supply of new cars. Issues with the supply chain, particularly a shortage of microchips, disrupted the production of vehicles, so the supply of new cars could not keep up with demand. Because consumers were unable to find new cars, the price of used cars increased. 

Because used cars are still expensive, buyers may have to search for deals to find a more affordable used car. This is where Consumer Reports recommends casting a wide net.

Why car buyers should cast a wide net

According to Consumer Reports, casting a wide net can help buyers find more affordable vehicles while car shopping. What does it mean to cast a wide net in shopping? First, it means to consider looking at cars outside of where you live. Checking dealerships beyond your town may be what it takes to find more affordable used cars. 

If you plan to shop online for cars, consider using multiple platforms to see more of what is available. Shopping like this may take more effort, but it can help buyers save money.

Consumer Reports does warn against casting too wide of a net, though. Being able to take a car for a test drive is an important part of the buying process, and if a car is too far away, this may not be a possibility. Having to travel to purchase a car could offset any money you might save on buying it.

Other car shopping tips from Consumer Reports

Casting a wide net is not the only tip that Consumer Reports gave for buying used cars. Another suggestion from Consumer Reports is to shop for a reliable car. Buying a reliable car could save you money over time, as it may require fewer major repairs.

Another tip for saving money is to consider avoiding used cars altogether and instead purchase a new car. Some used car buyers look for cars that are only a year or two old, and in a normal market, these would be considerably less expensive than brand-new cars. With the supply issues, though, newer used cars like this are less of a value. Buying a new car may be more expensive right now, but it could ultimately be a good investment.


How Much Does Consumer Reports Spend on Buying Cars in 1 Year?

If a new car is out of the question, maybe an older new car is the right answer. Newer used cars are still quite expensive, but older used cars may be cheaper. Once again, paying attention to reliability is important when buying a used car.

One final tip from Consumer Reports is to be open to compromising when car shopping. A buyer may not be able to find the perfect vehicle with every feature that they wanted, so to save money, the buyer may need to compromise on a car that has most of what they want.