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SmartMoney podcast: ‘How Do I Buy a Used Car?’

Sept. 23, 2019
Personal Finance
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Welcome to NerdWallet’s SmartMoney podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions — in 15 minutes or less.

This week, Sean and Dayana settle a debate they’ve been having: What’s the best way to buy a used car? Sean’s been prowling Craigslist, while Dayana is set on a more traditional route. 

Our tips

Before shopping around, set your budget. Aim to keep the total cost of owning a car, including maintenance, gas and insurance, within 20% of your monthly take-home pay. 

Find the car-buying route that works best for you. If you’re a pro haggler, you might be able to find a deal on Craigslist. CarMax, meanwhile, offers a more relaxed car-buying experience that doesn’t involve negotiating. New options, like Carvana, make it easy to buy a car from the comfort of your couch and have the car delivered to you.

Know how to vet a used car. Examine the vehicle history report of any car you’re interested in, looking for things like serious accidents and how many owners it’s had. And consider the car’s mileage; about 12,000 miles annually is typical.

CAR COSTS ALL OVER THE MAP?

Track your car expenses and find the best route to savings.

More about car buying on NerdWallet

How to buy a used car

How to buy a cheap, drivable used car

Ditch the dealership with online used car sellers

Your car-buying cheat sheet

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at [email protected]To hear previous episodes, return to the podcast homepage.