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Buying Used Vehicles

If you don't want to use a vehicle you already own for your business, there are numerous advantages to purchasing a used vehicle instead of a new one. The main advantage is this: as soon as you drive a new vehicle off of a dealer's lot, it immediately becomes worth much less than the price you paid for it. In fact, it is not unusual for a vehicle with just 10,000 miles on it to be worth several thousand dollars less than a new car of the same model.

We strongly discourage you from buying a brand new vehicle, especially if you are just starting out in business.

Tips For Buying Used Vehicles

Here are some tips for purchasing used vehicles:

  • When you find a vehicle that you are thinking about buying, research its value in a "blue book." Be wary if you are being charged significantly above book value. "Book value" is the amount that an auto dealer's guide says that a vehicle of a given make, model, and year is worth. Book values are usually compiled by polling a number of dealers to find out what prices they have been getting for vehicles they have recently sold.
  • Have any vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust before buying it.
  • Use any "defects" that your mechanic finds in the vehicle to negotiate a lower price.
  • Get any warranty information — especially guarantees that the vehicle will pass emission and safety inspections — up front and in writing. Most dealers are required to provide this under state and federal laws.

Business Tools

If you are concerned about whether a used vehicle that you purchase will be reliable, you should consider downloading a copy of the checklist for evaluating used vehicles from the Business Tools section.

Many items on this checklist are self-explanatory and you can carry the list with you when you visit dealer lots or explore advertisements in the newspaper.

For those items on the list that you don't understand, you may wish to consult the opinion of a mechanic whom you trust.

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