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How to Use Edmunds to Buy a Used Car

Resources to Make Your Shopping Easier

Edmunds offers a wide range of resources for you if you're shopping for a used car, from the early stages of figuring out what cars to consider and how much you can afford to finding those cars and getting the best price. Here's an overview of the Edmunds articles, data and used-car resources that can help you.

Where to Start? 10 Steps to Buying a Used Car

This article is a good place to start. It breaks down buying a used car into 10 steps, from figuring out how much you can afford to outlining how to close the deal.

What Can I Afford? Car Affordability Calculator

When buying a car, be it new or used, it's vital to know how much you can afford. There's no point in getting excited about this model or that one if you discover late in the process that it will empty your bank account. The Edmunds Car Affordability Calculator asks for some basic information, including your target monthly payment and cash down payment, to give you an idea of the price range you should consider. You can also use this calculator for new cars.

How Much Should the Car Cost? True Market Value®

How do you know if the asking price for a used car is a fair one? Edmunds' True Market Value (TMV®) is there to answer that question by drawing on the average transaction prices in your area for used cars, such as the one you want. Knowing this figure can help you determine what others have been paying to private-party sellers and dealers.

Of course, no two used cars are exactly alike, so the values of specific cars differ. One could have low miles, but the previous owner could have smoked in it daily for years. Another car could have high miles but could have been meticulously cared for. Still, TMV should provide a baseline to determine whether an asking price is fair.

Which Cars Should You Consider? Edmunds Reviews

Edmunds reviews every car every year, providing the latest information about features, specifications and how it compares to other vehicles in its class in that given year. That means we provide a snapshot of what you can expect from just about any used car you'll find on a lot. The easiest way to see a review from any given year is to go to the top of any Edmunds page and put the make, model and year of car you're looking for in the search box. You'll come to the unique page for that car, including pros and cons, a review, models for sale by dealers in your area, and other useful information.

How Much Will the Car Cost Over Time? True Cost to Own®

Of course, those Edmunds reviews cover what the car was like when new. Things change over time with used cars, specifically in depreciation, maintenance and repair costs. To see how much a used car on average will cost over a five-year period, check out Edmunds TCO®. Using this tool, you'll be able to see how cars of different years, makes and models compare in terms of depreciation, annual taxes and fees, fuel costs, insurance rates, maintenance costs and repair costs. Just because two cars have the same purchase price doesn't mean they'll cost the same down the road.

How Can I Find a Used Car? Edmunds Inventory

Once you've decided on the type of car you want, Edmunds helps you by displaying dealers' used-car inventories. Beyond make and model, you can break down and filter your choices by mileage, trim level, engine and transmission choice, specific features, and exterior and interior color. Availability in your area is another option. You can search nationwide or shop close to home. You can also look at several model years at a time and easily carry on simultaneous searches of different makes and models without opening different browser windows.

What Are Certified Pre-Owned Cars? Compare CPO Programs

Manufacturer-affiliated dealerships offer certified pre-owned (CPO) cars, which have undergone a multipoint inspection. The certification means that the car meets manufacturer requirements. The car also is being offered with an extended warranty. It's important to note, however, that not all CPO programs have the same offerings. Edmunds lets you compare CPO programs and provides details about each manufacturer's program. Edmunds TMV appraisals also show you what people are paying for certified pre-owned cars in your area.

How Can You Avoid Trouble? Vehicle History Reports

Edmunds has many articles intended to help you avoid buying a troublesome used car. One goes into detail about vehicle history reports, which will tell you about accident information, the number of prior owners and, depending on the report's provider, a service history. Getting a vehicle history report from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System is an absolute must when you're purchasing a used car. One of the things that might show up is whether the car in question has a salvage title. Buying such a car can save you thousands of dollars, but there are almost always serious reasons for that title designation, such as severe accident or flood damage. We provide a guide, "What Is a Salvage-Title Vehicle?"