How to find the best used car for the money

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Used car prices down 2.4% since last month

Buying a used car is often considered a smart way to save while avoiding the high depreciation costs that go hand in hand with new cars.

However, a limited supply of new cars and trucks due to continued chip shortages has caused demand for used cars to skyrocket, driving prices up sharply and reducing the value of buying used cars.

Now, although costs have cooled somewhat, older cars are still in demand and priced accordingly.

To get the best bang for your buck, a recent study by iSeeCars analyzed over 2 million cars to see which used models command the lowest price and offer the longest remaining life. The report then ranked these models based on a cost-per-mile remaining calculation to determine which used cars are the best deal.

Top 10 best used cars for the money

In first place, a 10-year-old Chevrolet Impala costs about $9,700 with an average remaining life of nearly 120,000 miles.

The Toyota Prius is the next best deal, with up to 130,000 miles of driveability remaining for under $14,000 – plus substantially lower fuel costs.

Other major competitors – such as the Kia Sedona, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Ridgeline and Ford Fusion – included a variety of sedans, SUVs, minivans and a pickup truck.

The median price of the 10-year-old cars and trucks in the top 10 is just $11,819, with more than 105,000 miles left, the report says — or more than 47% of their lifespan left.

“Buyers can buy a 10-year-old car that costs substantially less than 1- to 5-year-old used models, yet these vehicles still have 80,000 miles or more of life,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars. with.

“Some, like the Toyota Prius, Toyota Avalon and Honda Ridgeline, have over 125,000 miles to go.”

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Among 5-year-old cars and trucks, the Honda Fit topped the list, costing $18,486 on average with a remaining life of more than 150,000 miles – or nearly 75% of its total life, followed by the Civic and Prius.

Overall, five Toyotas made the Top 10 Best 5 Year Used Cars For The Money list, also including the Camry, Corolla, and Avalon.

The report analyzed 10-year models priced between $9,000 and $19,000 with an average remaining life of more than 100,000 miles, as well as 5-year models priced between $18,000 and $26,000 with a remaining average over 150,000. miles.

Important tips for buying a used car

In addition to the standard advice to check for excess wear and tear, request a vehicle history report and take the car to a shop for an inspection, according to Ivan Drury, chief information officer at car comparison shopping site Edmunds. He offered these five tips for anyone in the used car market.

1. Mileage is a myth: “Don’t be afraid of the 100,000 mile marker on your odometer,” said Drury. As durability has improved significantly over the past decade, “100,000 isn’t the mileage cap it used to be.”

“Used car values ​​don’t fall off a cliff at 100,000 miles,” he said. “Instead, they continue to follow a very linear reduction in value up to and beyond 100,000, almost down to 150,000.”

2. Being “basic” has its perks: Going with wildly popular models has an added advantage when it comes to buying a used car, Drury said.

“Buying high-volume conventional models almost guarantees you’ll be near a dealership or repair shop that is familiar with your model and has replacement parts readily available for repairs, translating to easier and more affordable maintenance,” he advised.

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3. Stick with what you know: Likewise, buying from a brand you’ve had a positive experience with can give you added security compared to buying something else that might save you money upfront “but stresses you out every time you start the car,” Drury said. .

4. Check the compositions: Check out comparable models — or older models of the same vehicle — on marketplaces like Edmunds, CarMax, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to see which models are truly capable of going the distance, he said.

“Even if you’re looking at something like a 2015 model year, research even older model years of that vehicle to see how many miles others have racked up and their prices for future predictions of value retention,” Drury advised.

5. Be ready to make a good deal: With demand still high, the lower priced used vehicles won’t arrive more than a few weekends before they go on sale, so be prepared to act quickly, he said.

A five-year-old, $25,000 car lasts just 39 days in the parking lot, on average, according to data from Edmunds. For a 10-year-old, $12,000 car, that number drops to just 27 days.

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