This is why new-car reviews with twenty-seven adjectives and thirty-two adverbs are given all the online exposure these days — while the more accurate long-term appraisals and information about a specific model from actual owners and enthusiasts are routinely ignored.
A lot of buyers believe that Carfax is the holy grail of information when it comes to shopping for used cars. It is not.
As someone who routinely sees wrecked used cars with clean Carfax histories, I can tell you that a lot of cars fall through the cracks. Most repair shops do not report their maintenance and repair history to Carfax, and many new car dealers still don't provide this critical need.
Carfax is really just a first step to eliminate many, but not all, of the substandard vehicles.
Accident history is one good example. Vehicles that have 'minor' and 'moderate' accidents may have needed only minor cosmetic repairs, while severe ones are an obvious cause for concern. Definitely eliminate the severe ones along with those that have salvage history and odometer inconsistencies which are not related to emissions testing.
Cars that have been owned for a long period of time by the same owner are often (but not always), in better condition than ones that may have seen two or three owners within the last few years. If you see a car that had two owners within the same year, it may have been repossessed or even damaged and then unreported. Give those cars a minus
Finally, the driving environment for a car has a unique impact on its longevity and condition. Places that are marred with stop-and-go traffic and bad roads tend to be far harder on a vehicle than a rural settings with a warm climate and plenty of highway cruising. If you want to avoid cars that come from the rust belt, pay particular attention to the registration history.
Step 3: Avoid the Mileage Trap
Miles are important, but only when you compare apples-to-apples in terms of environment.
I find that vehicles with higher miles that come from the right owners, and the right climate, tend to be far better values when it comes to a used car. Highway driving on smooth roads tends to put minimal strain on a car’s powertrain. Constant stop-and-go driving, along with long periods of idling, are far more taxing.
The driving habits of the owner, and the maintenance he performed on the vehicle, will be the big difference between those cars that are worth your investment of money and time, and those that should just be let go.
I'll put it to you this way. In the horse country where I grew up we used to say, "It's not the horse, it's the rider." When it comes to used cars the philosophy is the same.
A Carfax report will you help you eliminate many of the bad apples up front, and help you maintain the right mindset. This first step in removing the bad apples will save you time, cost, and aggravation when it comes to having that vehicle looked at by an experienced professional.
at interests you — and we'll focus on how to do that next time.