LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – With a lot of people are looking for ways to save money, the family car might be a good place to start. Consumer Reports says owners are holding onto their vehicles longer, which means fewer options and higher prices for people looking to buy used.
There are literally thousands of used car choices out there, and it can be overwhelming to figure out how to make a safe investment. But a little research can go a long way.
It might look good sitting on the lot, but it's important to know what's lurking under the hood when buying a used car.
"The seller is moving on potentially for a reason," said Jeff Bartlett, Online Autos Editor for Consumer Reports. "It may simply be it's just a lifestyle change, or they would like something fresh. But there also may be an underlying cause."
Bartlett helped Consumer Reports develop a cheat sheet to find the most reliable used cars for any budget.
"We don't necessarily see surprises," Barlett said, "because when we dig down to the used cars, often what we are finding is the very same cars that we emphasize when they are new, are holding up well over time." Barlett said that includes the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Fit and Mazda CX-9, used cars priced between $15,000 and $20,000 rated as best used cars according to Consumer Reports.
The Toyota Camry and Toyota Prius also made the list, but at Toyota of Louisville, managers said used Priuses are so popular they sell as soon as they hit the lot.
Consumer Reports says used cars outsell new ones three to one as people look to save money, but that doesn't always mean consumers are getting a good deal.
BMW's X5 and 7 series, Ford Explorer, Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan landed on the Consumer Reports worst used cars list because of low reliability ratings and in some cases safety concerns.
"Used cars are often bought under pressure or due to convenience," Bartlett said. "It may be for sale on the corner lot or you may be desperate because your own car just broke."
Bartlett said choose wisely and always have an independent mechanic check the vehicle out before you buy. It may cost an extra $100 or so, but Bartlett said that investment will surely pay off down the road.
One other thing to keep in mind when shopping for a used car is financing. Getting a loan from the dealer may be convenient but a better interest rate might be available from a local bank or even an online lender.
To see the complete Consumer Reports article on the best and worst used cars, click here.
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