What is THE Best Used Car To Buy?

When trying to decide on the best used car to purchase I recommend looking at three F’s: Form, Fit and Function; and three R’s: Reliability, Repair-ability and Resale.

The best car to buy is the one whose Form fits your needs best. That is, are you hauling a bunch of kids and their friends or is it just you and your best friend? Do you need back woods access or just urban roads? Are you towing a boat or RV?

At 6’3″, my choices for Fit are far more limited than if I were 5’8″. Long legs require moving the driver’s seat back into the rear seat area. Not a fun place for a passenger to be stuck.

The vehicle Functionality rounds out the three F’s. While a convertible subcompact may be great in summer, there is nothing like a four wheel drive car or truck for the rainy and icy winter months.

When evaluating used cars, have a pre-purchase inspection done to determine the overall Reliability of the car. Do your best to get repair records of the previous owner. Look for consistent service on wear parts like brakes and clutches. Make sure the tires have good tread depth. Has the timing belt been replaced recently? The money charged by a Certified Technician will be paid back many times over if you discover that wear parts are worn out and need to be replaced. A broken timing belt can result in a total engine overhaul.

While having the car checked by the Technician for Reliability, discuss Repair-ability with them. Find out how hard it is to get to the spark plugs, for example. I once owned a Porsche that had to have the exhaust manifolds removed to replace the spark plugs. I also owned a Volvo that had to have the fuel injection distribution system removed to change the points in the distributor. Those two examples alone made me far more cautious about purchasing a vehicle that is not accessible for the Technician.

Make sure the car wasn’t damaged in flooding in Alberta or Louisiana so there won’t be rust and electrical problems down the road. Drive the car through a car wash and look for leaks.

Resale values change over time. If, like most drivers, you are going to change cars every few years , check with companies like Kelly Blue Book to track resale values. http://www.kbb.com.