Research your next used car with these helpful tips.
There are so many things to consider when buying a used car, from size and style to interior tech and convenient features that make driving more comfortable. If you're wondering which vehicle to choose, you're not alone — many shoppers have this question!
As with any major purchase, it's important to do your research. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of five things to do before deciding which used car to buy.
1. Evaluate your needs
Before booking a test drive, think about how you'll use your vehicle and what you want from your ownership experience. This will help you narrow down which vehicle types work best for you, both now and in the future. Which of these statements echoes your needs?
"I want a daily driver that's lots of fun": If you're looking to add excitement to your commute, a sporty coupe, a manual transmission car, or a four-door sports car are designed to deliver the spirited performance you crave.
"I need more room for my growing family": Families need lots of space for passengers and belongings, which is why minivans and three-row SUVs with seven-passenger and eight-passenger cabins are so popular. With enough room for your precious cargo, you'll be able to travel comfortably.
"I want a capable vehicle that's versatile": The best crossovers and SUVs provide powerful performance and a flexible interior to keep up with your active lifestyle. Many models also offer all-wheel or four-wheel drive.
"I need a truck for tough jobs": Whether it's a small pickup, a full-size truck, or a popular pickup, you're bound to find a model with the capability you need. There are many high-mpg trucks to choose from, too.
2. Set a budget
Once you figure out your ideal vehicle type, the next step is setting a budget. A car payment calculator can help you determine how much you want to spend each month.
With a wide range of used car prices, you're sure to find many vehicles that fit your budget. To help you compare your options, we've compiled a list of research articles on the best used cars, SUVs, and trucks by price range:
You can also check out these used vehicle ranking guides by type and price to narrow down your options:
3. Pay attention to reliability
You don't have to buy a new vehicle to get a dependable ride. Many used models boast strong reliability ratings, providing the peace of mind that your used car, truck, or SUV will be with you for the long haul.
When shopping for a used vehicle, always look for RepairPal reliability ratings. These ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2010–2019 vehicles. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features, but it's an excellent tool to help you find a reliable vehicle.1
To learn about the used models and brands that have strong RepairPal reliability ratings, read these CarMax articles:
4. Research, research, research
When buying a used car, knowledge is power — so you must do your homework. Researching your next vehicle will not only help you find the right model to suit your needs and budget, it can also ensure you get the features that matter most.
CarMax has an extensive library of vehicle reviews with car buying guides and comparisons to help you do your research. You'll also find comprehensive reviews on some of the most popular models:
5. Consider your personality
Whether you're shopping for a cool-looking commuter or a family-friendly ride, you deserve a car that matches your style. For example:
If you appreciate the finer things in life, a luxury car can provide a premium experience, with high-end features and materials.
Have you always dreamed of owning a muscle car? From Chevy to Dodge to Ford, you'll find many models sporting a ferocious growl.
If you like cruising with the top down, these top-selling convertibles will let you feel the wind in your hair.
Craving heart-racing acceleration with tight cornering? These sports cars will have you living life in the fast lane.
Are you ready to find your next used car, truck, or SUV? CarMax can help you discover the one that's right for you. Start your used car search today.