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How do you feel when you see a cheap car for sale? If you’re shopping for an automobile, you might feel like you hit the jackpot and need to snag this ride immediately — before someone else does.
Take a moment to pause and think before making any major purchasing moves like this, though. Why does this car have such a low price tag? What kinds of questions should you ask before deciding whether to buy or not? Here’s what the experts have to say about whether a cheap car is always a good deal — of if you should steer clear.
Factors That Determine If a Cheap Car Is a Good Value
It would be irresponsible to call a car a good deal just because it has a cheap price tag. Rather than focus on the price, Robert Harper, director of product development and technical support at Ziebart International Corporation, recommends consumers learn why the vehicle is priced so low.
So how do you figure it out? One of the best approaches is to consider factors that affect the value of a car. Here are a few key ones to consider.
How old is this car for sale? Charles Cannon, general manager at Lexus of Serramonte, said a car’s age is one of the most important factors that affects its value. Generally, older cars are worth much less than newer cars.
Along with a car’s age, its mileage is another important factor to consider.
“Cars with higher mileage are generally worth less than cars with lower mileage,” said Cannon.
If the car is in good condition and has less visible wear and tear, it’s worth more than a car in poor condition.
In addition to checking out the condition of the paint and car’s interior, Harper recommends assessing the car’s structural integrity, especially in areas which are tough to see. If you notice substantial rust or corrosion on the frame or unibody, it could be very dangerous to drive and expensive to repair, said Harper.
A car’s features, such as having a rearview camera or an anti-lock braking system, affect its value.
Cars with more features tend to be worth more than cars with fewer features. Cannon said this is because features add value to a car and cars with fewer features are less desirable to buyers.
Has the car been in any accidents? Has it been subject to flooding? Dealt with any other major problems?
Unfortunately, incidents like these noted in a car’s accident history would result in a lower value than cars with a clean history. According to Cannon, accidents can damage a car and damaged cars are generally worth less than undamaged cars.
One more factor that impacts a car’s value is its maintenance records. Harper recommends checking these documents before purchasing.
“An inexpensive car that hasn’t been properly maintained by previous owners could become very expensive if the engine needs to be replaced,” he said.
Before buying a cheap car, make sure to review each of the above aspects first. By doing your research and considering all the factors involved, Cannon said you’ll be able to increase your chances of getting a good deal on a cheap car.