7 Tips to Find the Perfect Pre Owned Car

When it comes to buying a pre owned vehicle, it’s important to make sure you find the vehicle you want, and that you’ve considered all nearby dealerships. If you haven’t purchased a vehicle in the past few years, you may be unaware of a new distinction of pre owned vehicle available for purchase!

Certified pre owned vehicles, or CPO for short, are a class of vehicle available that have been thoroughly inspected to ensure quality and safety for the next person to purchase the vehicle. The manufacturer of the vehicle creates a checklist of inspection points on a vehicle, and a vehicle has to meet these criteria to be considered a CPO vehicle.

In addition, the car has to be under a certain age and mileage, for example, Volvo will only certify a vehicle under 5 years old, and under 80,000 miles. The manufacturer will extend the warranty, and include benefits that may be usually only available with new vehicles, like roadside assistance.

However, there's no guarantees that these will be worth what you pay for them, relatively speaking given the price of the car, so these benefits should be examined with scrutiny to make sure it's not simply a sales gimmick as opposed to a guarantee.

The price may be a bit higher than a used car would normally be, which should be taken into account. If you’re looking for a CPO, we’ve compiled a little list that should make your next car-buying venture a bit more safe and secure, and help you decide which buying process will work best for you.

1. Know what type of vehicle you’d like to purchase.

While this is not universal, most people have a general idea of what type of vehicle they’d like to have. (Car, truck, SUV, etc.) Furthermore, people tend to have a brand they prefer, or at least have a familiarity with. Most dealerships will have a bit of variety where this is concerned, even a dealership that specializes in trucks may have a few cars, and vice versa. Don't be afraid to take a look at the inventory of dealerships that don't seem to be in your wheelhouse, necessarily.

If you already have this information in mind, you’re further there than you might think! Your needs will usually determine what you get, so know what you need from a vehicle, what you’d like to have, and what you can ignore entirely. If you specify what you're looking for to a dealer, whether they have the exact vehicle you're looking for or not, they'd happily point you to the closest thing they have on their lot. Pre owned dealerships will tend to have a lot more variety than a manufacturer-associated dealership, as a manufacturer-associated dealership will obviously have more of one particular brand than anything else.

At Castle Car Company, we focus on higher-end pre owned cars, Jeeps in particular being one of our hottest-selling vehicles. Our selection of Jeeps should certainly offer something that matches your needs, but we also carry trucks by Chevrolet and Dodge, Ford, GMC and more!

2. Find a vehicle that matches your needs!

Most online car buying resources, like AutoTrader, have a search section that allows you to select by any parameters you might want. Whether it be the brand, type of vehicle, year, mileage, or specific features you might be looking for, resources like this can point you in the direction of the vehicle you’d like to be driving.

Scrolling through and seeing if anything catches your attention can also be a good starting point, as the perfect vehicle for you might be one that you've not even heard of until you stumble across it. Keep an open mind, and you'll more than likely end up with a vehicle that you're happy to drive. We also have a wide inventory of vehicles for your consideration, and we offer delivery!

3. Make sure the vehicle is available pre owned!

While this shouldn’t be an issue assuming the car is more than a year old, don’t feel the need to buy a new car when a used one is just as reliable, and may be available for far less money. Since a new car loses a significant portion of its value from the moment it leaves the dealership's lot, you can take advantage of this price drop by purchasing a vehicle that's within the past few model years, gaining the majority of the vehicle's original value without that drop in price affecting your wallet directly.

A certified pre owned vehicle generally fills the price gap between a new car and a used car, without adding all of the extra cost that a new car would create. However, not all dealerships offer this, nor do all quality used vehicles have this certification. It’s not a necessary layer of security, but it can bring some extra peace of mind. That being said, experts are divided about whether CPO's are worth it, so a lack of certification is no reason to overlook a vehicle that otherwise catches your attention.

4. Shop around to find the best price for what you want!

It can be extremely helpful to know both the market value of what you’re asking for, but what’s even more critical is knowing what it’s costing in your area in particular. Some vehicles have a fairly universal value, while others can vary by scarcity and usefulness in your region. The MSRP should not vary, but the rules of supply and demand are always in play, and looking to find a particularly scarce vehicle for your area can drive the price up. Given that more and more dealerships offer delivery at this point, it's not unreasonable to expand your search area further than you'd normally consider.

Dealerships in your area may vary quite a bit from the information you’re seeing online, try to ensure that any information shown online by dealerships in your area is accurate. Less honest dealerships have been known to do what’s referred to as a “bait and switch,” where they attract potential customers with a deal on a vehicle that either doesn’t exist or has already sold, then try to talk the customer into a more expensive option.

Here at Castle Car Company, we specialize in vehicles that are as new as they can be without us being able to refer to them as new. Low mileage, late models, with quality inspections before we sell them, but be sure to do your research to ensure you’re going to the right dealership to begin with.

5. Don’t be afraid to call!

If information presented online seems inaccurate, or there’s something specific you’d like to know about a car, there’s nothing wrong with calling the dealership in question. In addition, salespeople and dealership staff may know more about the vehicle than the standard formatting of a website would allow them to list, so they'd best be able to give you this information over the phone.

This will also indicate to the dealership that you’re interested in the vehicle, meaning they may follow up with you if the vehicle hasn’t sold within a timeframe they’re comfortable with. If the vehicle hasn't sold within a few weeks, it's more likely that the dealership near you will call you back with a lower offer, in the interest of getting the vehicle off of their lot. It's not a guaranteed way of obtaining a vehicle cheaper, but when it comes to a purchase of this size, every bit of savings will help!

It's also worth noting that a working rapport with a dealership or other car seller could lead to a different purchase down the line. If you're looking for a Jeep for off-road purposes, but a dealership receives a Toyota Tacoma that's suitable for off-roading, they'll more than likely call you to see if you'd be interested.

6. Always, always take a test drive!

Don’t get blindsided by disappointment if driving a vehicle leaves a bit to be desired. You’re making a big purchase, make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.

Even if you’ve driven a virtually identical vehicle, it’s critical to make sure the one you’re driving off the dealership’s lot is one you’re happy with. Drive until you’ve gotten a feel for the car, and make sure to try out a few different traffic conditions for your own reference. (Standard suburban streets, highway, country roads, whatever is most similar to your own daily driving conditions.)

This drive is critical, as a lot of minor details that could lead to major expenses down the road can be discovered early with a thorough test drive. For example, the New Castle area around our dealership is perfect for showing off standard conditions in Pennsylvania, with two-lane streets, traffic averaging around 45mph, ample opportunity to test acceleration and braking, and country roads to test handling and suspension. Experts recommend your test drive should last between 15 and 30 minutes.

7. Consider the age and mileage!

Besides neglect and accidents, both of which should be fairly evident given the research you’ve done, age and mileage of the vehicle are critical to consider for value and maintenance purposes.

An older vehicle will virtually always require slightly more maintenance than a newer one, and more mileage will drive the value of the vehicle down. In addition, vehicles tend to have certain pre-scheduled maintenance that needs to be done, including oil changes, filter changes, coolant and other fluid. Making sure these have been properly administered, either by the dealership or the previous owner, will save you serious headaches in the long term. A good pre owned dealership will usually have done these upon receiving the vehicle, but make sure to ask to ensure that you won't have to change the oil on the vehicle you just purchased.

And if you want to make sure the vehicle you get will come with no headaches at all, take a look at our selection! We only buy and sell top of the line vehicles, for below the line prices! We’re located in New Castle, PA and we offer delivery within 300 miles of our headquarters.