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How to Shop for a Used Car

How to Shop for a Used Car

find your perfect used car

Searching for a used car online is a great way to literally have hours slip away from you because there’s so much to look at.

Let’s say you’ve been driving your car for many years, it’s getting old, seems to need repairs more and more frequently, and finally gives up the ghost. Suddenly you need a car and haven’t had to shop for a car in a long time. Where do you start? What should you do? Where can you look? Your search for a used car can get started with these key steps:

1. Know What You Want and Can Afford
Being that specific and knowing what kind of a used car you want is already a good start. If you are not sure about the exact make/model/year/ try to narrow down your search and define a general idea of what you want – size, type (sedan, SUV, truck, etc.), those sorts of things. But keep an open mind. Just as important of what kind of car you want is what you can afford. Take a hard look at your monthly household budget and figure out what would be a comfortable monthly payment you can handle and stick to it. So many people aim a too high and regret it later on.

2. Search Online
One of the first things you can do is decide whether you’re going to look for vehicles being sold by private owners or at used car dealerships, or a mix of both. If you use the Internet to help your search, you’ll definitely get that mix. There are lots of great sites out there, such as AutoTrader, TrueCar, Edmunds, KBB,, and many others. It’s also a great way to literally have hours slip away from you because there’s so much to look at. Then of course there are local classifieds and Craigslist. Feeling tired already? Another option that might simplify things for you is to ask around to your friends and family to find out what dealerships they have bought cars from and what they thought of it. If you have people you trust recommending a dealership, you should probably check it out.

3. Find a Great Dealership
Dealerships offer so much more than you could ever get from a private owner, so if you can find a reputable used car dealer, it’s the way to go. Then you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a larger selection, the possibility of warranties, and other helpful products and services like help with obtaining financing, service contracts, gap insurance, theft protection, and so on. But even if a couple friends or family members have recommended a dealership, you should still do your little fact-finding mission to evaluate it, especially if you’ve visited the website and seen some cars that interest you. This is where reading real customer reviews can come in quite handy. You can find these through Google, DealerRater, Edmunds, Yelp, and other sites.

If you’d like to find out how Auto City is transforming the used car shopping process for auto shoppers in San Diego pay us a visit! Since you are reading this blog already, a good way to start may be checking our carefully selected and reconditioned used cars on our inventory page .