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Anyone younger than 30 might not realize how much things have changed around used car buying. For those who are Millennials or younger, we’ve assembled this used car buying and then and now so you can fully appreciate how much easier your life is these days when it’s time to buy your next used car.


Seeing What’s Available for Used Car Buying

When you’re driving your current ride and it’s making strange sounds or doesn’t handle well, you might think it’s time to start looking around for a great deal on a used car. Here’s the then/now breakdown on seeing what’s available when you’re shopping for a used car:


THEN: First, you’d get out your trusty phone book (if you even know what one of those is) and go to the yellow pages and find the section listing car dealerships. Then you’d write down a list of the ones that interest you most (yes, on a piece of paper using a pen or pencil). You might even call ahead on your land-line telephone (yes, people could still make phone calls before there were cell phones) to get a sense of what they have on the lot for used cars.


NOW: Now all you have to do is use your favorite internet-connected device, whether it’s your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Type a few words into your favorite search engine and start browsing used car listings in your local area, or anywhere else if you felt like it. You can easily see what’s available from the comfort of your couch, bed, or just about anywhere else if you want to.


Peace of Mind About Vehicle Safety and Quality

Everyone buying a used car wants to have the peace of mind that it’s a safe, quality vehicle that hasn’t been in an accident, hasn’t been through a flood or other natural disaster, and has been properly maintained. Here’s the then/now breakdown of getting that peace of mind in used car buying:


THEN: As you visited each dealership lot in-person, you’d walk around and look at the cars that interested you. There might be a salesperson hovering over your shoulder telling you it’s such a great car (of course, they were all great cars), but it was really up to you to figure that out. You might kick the tires (yes, that really did used to be a thing), ask to look under the hood, and of course take it for a test drive.


NOW: But today, most dealerships will give you a vehicle history report for free! Thanks to companies like CARFAX, AutoCheck, and others, it’s easier than ever to find out some of the key safety and quality information about a used car being offered for sale at a dealership. Are those reports perfect? No, but they’re a heck of a lot better than what used to be available, which was next to nothing. A good vehicle history report will tell you if the car has ever been in an accident, if it was ever totaled or had a salvage title at some point, and sometimes even has a decent record of service and maintenance that has been performed on the vehicle.


Deciding What Kind of Car to Buy


One thing that’s always useful to think about ahead of used car buying is what you really want. Some people are totally devoted to a specific make and/or model. Others are more open-minded and don’t really know how to decide what they want. Here’s the then/now of how people go about deciding what kind of used car to buy:

THEN: Way back when, there really weren’t a lot of ways to figure out what you wanted to buy. Lots of people just went with what they were used to. If their parents always bought a particular make, their kids were likely to go in that direction as well.


NOW: These days, once again thanks to the information age and the internet, you can find all kinds of great information to help you decide what to buy. For example, let’s say reliability is your most important consideration. Search “most reliable used cars” and you’ll get all kinds of great articles about the reliability factor for used car buying.


Finding a Reputable Dealership


Another major aspect of used car buying is the who – as in who will you buy from? If you’re leaning towards buying from a dealership, you want to know if they’re going to deal with you honestly and fairly, right? Here’s the then/now breakdown of determining dealership reputation:

THEN: Just like when the only way you could see what a dealership had in the way of cars was by physically going to their lot, the only way you had to find out about whether or not a dealership was reputable was by visiting them, or talking to other people who had been there before.


NOW: Once again you can thank your lucky stars you live in the digital age of the 21st century. Finding out the reputation of a dealership is as easy as using your favorite device to jump online and check things out. You can start by visiting the dealership’s website just to get a general feel for how they present themselves. See if they mention winning any recent awards.



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