Buying a Used Car, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
The Automobile

Buying a Used Car
Buying a Used (Pre-Owned) Car is even more dangerous than buying a new one. The “used car salesman” is a clich‚ in American culture for a predatory merchant. “Would you buy a used car from this man?” is a metaphor that questions a person's honesty. Of course there are many reputable used car dealers. Just bear in mind that a car can be made to look beautiful on the outside and be diseased on the inside. It's easy for a dealer to tell you that “The car was owned by a little old lady who only used it to drive to church on Sundays.”

Many new car dealers also sell used cars. If the dealer is reputable and has a good service department, you might find a good deal. A “late-model” used car, which is only two or three years old, can--theoretically--be an excellent deal, since most of the depreciation (decline in the car's re-sale value) has already taken place. Of course a used car sold by a major dealer may cost a little more than a car sold by a “no-name” lot.

You can also buy a used car from a private individual. People advertise their cars in local shopping magazines (“Pennysavers”), newspapers, on, on various internet automobile sites, or even by placing signs on the car itself. It's up to you to judge who you are buying from.

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