Buying a used car is almost always a good idea for most consumers, because used cars are typically thousands of dollars cheaper than new models. According to Edmunds.com, car values drop significantly as soon as they become used and then again after the car becomes five years old. Choosing a nearly new car is not so different than choosing a new car, but you will have to be ready to do the homework to ensure you get the best possible deal.
Research local auto auctions. Local car auctions often have nearly new cars for sale. These can be both police or government fleet auctions, as well as auctions with lender-repossessed vehicles. Look in your local newspaper for auction notices, or go online and search for local car auctions.
Find dealer promotional vehicles. Dealers often sell promotional vehicles or vehicles they've used as showroom display models shortly after the new models arrive. Contact the dealerships in September or October after the next year's models arrive.
Research model depreciation. Some nearly new cars depreciate much faster than others. Find the models that depreciate the quickest and find dealers or private sellers who are selling these models.
Establish a price ceiling and negotiate. Your price ceiling should be the highest price you're willing to pay and should be based on your research. Begin your negotiation by asking the seller to name a selling price. Always counter this initial offer with a lower price. If the seller accepts, congratulations. If not, accept an offer below your price ceiling but be willing walk away if the seller's price is not below your price ceiling.
- Wince or scowl when the seller tells you the initial sales price.
- While many, if not most, nearly new cars are still covered under a manufacturer's warranty, they may not be covered under your state's "lemon law" protections. Contact your state's Attorney General's Office for information about any consumer automobile protection laws that may apply.
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.