17 Myths About Used Cars People Just Believe

Most people in the market for a new car know that they're going to get fleeced by the dealer when they make a purchase. After all, every new car plummets in value as soon as it's driven off the lot, then continues to depreciate over the rest of its life. Plus, salespeople at dealerships are always trying to tack on unnecessary add-ons like service plans, extended warranties, window tints, and more.

The high-pressure sales situation at most dealerships is enough to turn plenty of car buyers away—not to mention the financial hit a new car represents. However, with financing, reliability, and style coming into play, a new car purchase becomes more understandable.

Plus, finding and buying a solid used car also has its challenges. In many ways, the old saying that buying a used car is buying its owner has been proven true over the years. But buyers need to beware, so keep scrolling for 17 used car myths that people seem to just believe, for some reason.

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17 CPO Woes

via Cars

Many car buyers think they can save time and money by purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned car from a dealer. But CPO cars don't always come with the same kind of warranty coverage that a brand might offer on their new cars, so inspecting the CPO language with a magnifying glass is important before just assuming a car is covered bumper-to-bumper.

16 Low Mileage

via Diminished Value of Georgia

Most people who are in the market for a used car place an obsessive level of importance on finding low-mileage examples of whichever make and model they have decided is their favorite. But low-mileage cars can be just as ragged as high-mileage cars, especially if they've sat for extended periods of time while their seals and gaskets have corroded.

15 Kelley Blue Book

via Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book can be a useful tool when buying or selling a used car, but too many people overemphasize the price estimates the company offers on its website. Just flipping around and entering the same car multiple times can result in wildly different valuations, and the true value of a car is the market price someone is willing to pay on any given day.

14 List Price Vs True Price

via YouTube

Many things are negotiable in life, though finding a used car may be one instance where the difference between list price and sale price can vary the most. Most sellers have added on at least a 10% bump over what they expect to get, while buyers can confidently earn larger price drops with friendliness, knowledge, and a good PPI.

13 Online Shopping

via CBT Automotive Network

In the modern era, plenty of Silicon Valley executives have noticed that the used car market offers enormous potential for technological innovation. From car history reports to connecting buyers with inspections, financing, and aftermarket warranties, there are websites that provide many services for the used car buyer. Just be aware that these websites don't always have the buyer's interest in mind.

12 Carfax Will Be Factual

via Framestore

Carfax earned their place in the market with excellent advertising, a clever name, and by providing a good amount of information about most vehicles just using the VIN number. But Carfax has its limitations, mainly because it struggles to deal with title transfers accurately and is also unable to report on any damage or maintenance that wasn't logged into online databases.

11 Cash Is King

via Gizmodo

For the most part, the process of buying a used car is a great arena for proving that cash is king. Many people espouse the belief that a wad of cash that's 25% of a car's initial asking price will get the deal done, though in reality, this only applies to a small market of collectible cars. For most buyers, financing through banks can allow for a greater offer, improving the chances a seller will agree to part with their vehicle.

10 Clean Titles

via YouTube

On Craigslist, plenty of sellers will say that their car has a clean title, acting as if that means it has received all the maintenance in the world and is ready to run for another 200,000 miles. Buying from a used car lot makes it more likely that a clean title car will actually have a clean title, though private sellers can simply use an older pink slip from before the car was salvaged or rebuilt.

9 Salvage Titles

via Capital One

Most buyers shy away from purchasing a car with a salvage title, for the obvious reason that most cars with salvage titles have experienced some kind of damage. But with the proper documentation of theft with no damage or minor paintwork, like after a keying, this means that a salvage car can actually be a great deal—provided the new owner doesn't want to sell it any time soon.

8 Investment Potential

via CNBC

For a certain subset of the population, collectible cars can be a prudent investment opportunity. But plenty of car buyers searching for a great deal on a used vehicle seem to think that because they aren't buying new, their car offers investment potential. Cars are depreciating mechanical assets that wear down over time, though, and just keeping them running almost 100% of the time makes them the opposite of a wise investment.

7 Worse MPGs

via YouTube

A commonly propagated myth in the modern media atmosphere is that more people should be incentivized to buy new cars because newer cars are more efficient and safer than older cars. This isn't necessarily true, though, given how much efficiency varies from model to model. Plus, it doesn't take into consideration what happens to the old cars getting thrown away.

6 Aftermarket Warranties

via Endurance

Buying an aftermarket warranty for a used car can be a good idea. However, just purchasing a warranty without reading the fine print can be disastrous. From limits on what's covered to limits on how much a mechanic can charge hourly, aftermarket warranties are further proof that these companies don't have their customers' best interests at heart.


via VideoBlocks

Getting a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) before buying a used car is a must for anyone that isn't a trained mechanic. A PPI can ensure a car is mechanically safe and sound, while also providing the kind of negotiating leverage that can bring a price down significantly. But a PPI won't catch everything, so buyers should be aware that unexpected issues can, and will, still crop up.

4 Maintenance History

via CarGurus

Anybody selling a used car should provide maintenance records to go along with the vehicle. This helps the new owner understand what has already been covered, what kind of intervals the work has been completed at, and how much work might have been neglected. But extensive vehicle history isn't a guarantee that the car is in great shape, so yet again, buyers must beware.

3 Tires

via The Maritime Executive

One common refrain from people selling used cars is that the tires have lots of tread left. First of all, most people don't know how to judge a tire's tread—typically just putting a finger on the outermost edge of the tread pattern. But more importantly, tires have date codes on them that show how old they are, which is just as, if not more, important than how many miles they've traveled.

2 Mods Add Value

via Digital Trends

One hilariously common detail typically found on Craigslist and other used car websites includes owners who seem insistent that all the mods they've done on their car add value. They'll even include dollar figures for that wing, those rims, the Bluetooth radio, and the subwoofer in the trunk. But for 99% of buyers, all those mods are a turn off because they point to someone who has abused the car while driving, messed with the sensitive electronics, and generally thought that looks are more important than mechanical soundness.

1 Low Tech

via Country Living Magazine

Another commonly propagated myth that the media and politicians can't stop spreading about new cars is that they're more technologically advanced than old ones. Features like Bluetooth, driver's aids, sunroofs, and adaptive cruise control might dominate most car ads nowadays, but the era when cars and trucks were built to last a lifetime has gone by the wayside.

Sources: Car and Driver, Jalopnik, and Wikipedia.

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