Buying a Used Car, a Professional’s Perspective

Joy Wineman, Staff Reporter

I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Warner, the owner and manager of AutoSearch USA. This is a company that buys and sells used cars.

Q) What price ranges do used cars typically come on?
A) Used vehicles…range from $3000-$250,000.  Typically most consumers purchase vehicles with an average price of $13,790 according to AutoMotive News.

Q) How long does the process of buying a used car usually take?
A)The average shopper spends over 26 hours researching, shopping and purchasing a vehicle at a traditional dealership. Additionally, it takes an average of 2 hours 15 min, to sign the purchase documents once the purchase decision has been made. At AutoSearch USA the average customer spends approximately. 1 hour for the entire process.  We save the customer over 27 hours and 15 min.

Q) What is the first thing one should be sure to do when starting this process?
A) Most customers begin the process by researching the vehicle they are considering on the internet. But, the real place to start is to consider your budget.  Understanding how much you can afford to spend on a vehicle and being disciplined enough to stick to your budget is essential.  If you plan to finance your vehicle you should get pre-approved for your loan prior to shopping for your vehicle.

Q) What are some things to keep in mind as an owner of a used car? (for possible resale).
A) The best thing a vehicle owner can do to maximize the resale value of their vehicle is to take care of it. This includes keeping it clean and free from interior and exterior blemishes. Additionally, it is very important to make sure all the manufactures recommended maintenance is performed on the car including regular oil changes, brake maintenance and checking and replacing any worn belts and  hoses.  Keeping records of all maintenance items will assist in the resale value of the vehicle.

Q) What are red flags to look out for when buying a used car?
A)There are many, but most importantly you should focus on value for your automotive dollar.  Looking at the general condition of the vehicle is essential and that includes reviewing the current maintenance records on the vehicle you are considering.  Making sure all the maintenance records are up to date will indicate how the previous owner took care of the car. If the exterior and interior condition of the vehicle meets your quality standards it is important to test drive the vehicle.  Though it seems obvious to test a vehicle to see how it drives you also need to be aware of other factors.  During the test drive you should see how you fit in the vehicle, can you comfortably reach all the controls and do you have good vision out of all windows while driving and parking. Consider what you will primarily use the vehicle for and will the vehicle fit those needs.  If you play in the school band and continuously haul your tuba back and forth to school, a small 2 door coupe, no matter how cool it looks, will not fit your needs.  Buying a car should be fun and exciting.  It should be a good emotional experience. But don’t let the emotions of the moment create buyer remorse later when you realize your drum set can’t fit in the backseat of your lime green 2 door coupe.

Q) How much research is necessary before buying a car?
A) Research is extremely important in any big dollar purchase but it should not create paralysis by analysis.  Over researching your purchase can create an unrealistic expectations that may never be filled.  It is important to check the safety ratings of the vehicles you are considering, reliability ratings and expected annual ownership costs. (this would include automobile insurance rates and anticipated annual fuel costs). These ratings and projections can be found in many sources including consumer reports, consumer guide or websites like or .

Q) What is your biggest piece of advice for someone buying a used car? (specifically teenagers).
A)  AutoSearch USA would advise all teenagers to do your research and make sure they purchase a vehicle that fits their needs, is reliable, has good safety ratings and fits their budget.  Entering into a vehicle transaction with a firm but somewhat flexible budget is essential. Many young people are often “upsold” by a traditional dealers and end up purchasing a vehicle that costs more than they can afford.  Understanding that your “dream” car will not likely be your first car can help you properly set your expectations.  Above all, have fun….you will always remember your first car. Being an intelligent buyer make sure those memories are good ones.