There are a number of options in southern Utah when it comes time to purchase a used car. You can search online classified ads; browse social media listings; visit a local car lot or a reputable dealership; or you can even just jot down the phone number written on a sign in the window of a car parked on the road near Lins in Washington Fields.
Each option has pluses and minuses. You may get a better price buying a car from a private seller, but that cheaper price comes with zero guarantees that the car will last. You may pay a little more for a car at a local lot or a dealership but they’ll make the process quick and easy. They’ll handle the financing for you and fill out all the paperwork. Plus you’ll usually get a vehicle history report if you purchase from a dealership. And you’ll have the added option of buying a certified used car. That certification allows you to rest assured knowing the chances of having an issue with the vehicle right after you buy it are slim to none.
No matter which option you choose for buying a used car in St. George, there are a few ways you can make sure you get the car you want without getting swindled.
It can be tempting to stretch your budget and spend a little more on a vehicle. But the cost of used cars in St. George can make for some pretty hefty monthly payments. If you purchase a car from a dealership, you can give them the amount you want to pay per month and they’ll show you the cars they can get you into for that payment amount. It makes life a whole lot easier.
Purchasing from a private party and getting your own financing can mean you don’t really know what your payments will be until you’re well into the process.
In either case, you should try and stay away from longer-term loans. A six or seven-year loan will mean smaller monthly payments but that will also mean your used car will have to last six or seven years. Otherwise, you’ll still be making payments after your used car has reached the end of its life.
CarFax and Autocheck are the big three sources for vehicle history reports. If you’re buying a used car in St. George, you want one of those three companies' names on the report. At most major dealerships like those at the Stephen Wade Auto Center, all you have to do is ask to see the report and you’ll have one in your hands in minutes.
You want to know you’re not buying a car that’s been previously totaled or suffered flood damage and the only way to really know is to get that vehicle history report.
And here's a tip if you ever want to sell your used car in St. George or anywhere else - be wary of potential buyers who ask for a vehicle history report and insist you get one from a service you've never heard of before. These are often phishing scams trying to get your personal and banking information with fake car report websites.
Are you worried about taking the leap and buying a used car on faith with no warranty? There is an option to purchase a used car with factory warranty coverage. Manufacturer-certified pre-owned cars (CPO cars) offer used-car affordability with manufacturer-backed warranty coverage. To become a Certified Pre-Owned Car, they have to meet low-milage and age requirements that vary by manufacturer but they are generally under 50,000 miles and 3-4 years old. These are often cars returned at the end of leases, loaner vehicles, or vehicles that were driven by staff at the dealership or the automaker.
They undergo a comprehensive inspection and refurbishment process and are required to meet strict quality guidelines set by the original manufacturer.
On the other hand, most used cars are sold as-is, with no warranty. Certified Pre-owned Cars in St. George, Utah, and around the country come with warranties from the manufacturer that generally exceed the car’s original coverage.
You’ll only find a brand’s certified used cars at their own franchised dealerships. If you see a Toyota marked as a certified used car on a local dealer’s lot, you’ll know it’s not truly part of Toyota’s Certified CPO program.
Some dealers will label cars “certified,” but unless a vehicle is inspected and refurbished to the original manufacturer’s standards by one of their own dealers, it is not manufacturer certified.
Only manufacturer-certified pre-owned vehicles will come with warranty coverage that allows for repairs to be performed at any of their dealerships anywhere in the country. So if you purchase that Certified Pre-Owned car at Stephen Wade Honda in St. George, Utah, you can get warranty service no matter where you are in the country.
A dealership can offer its own personal warranty on any used car, but it's likely much more limited than a manufacturer's CPO warranty.
Of course, this warranty coverage comes at a price. CPO cars are typically more expensive than equivalent non-certified used vehicles. However, a CPO car will likely have a lower total cost of ownership – at least during the warranty period. You'll need to balance the higher initial cost with the potential for savings in mechanical repairs.
When budgeting for a used car, you’ll want to think about the additional costs of owning the used car you purchased here in St. George. Fuel costs, repair costs, maintenance costs, and insurance are just a few items that can rack up the true cost of ownership.
You may get a lower payment on a gas-guzzling muscle car but if you’re paying hundreds of dollars per month for fuel, the extra $50 in payments on an electric car may make a lot more sense. Price out insurance costs as well. The costs to insure a vehicle can vary widely and may surprise you if you haven’t done your research. Owning a two-door car may seem like a great idea until you get the insurance bill on a car your insurance company considers a “sports car.”
Think about the maintenance costs and reliability of your potential new used car as well. The price of parts and services can be significantly higher for certain brands of vehicles. And the reliability scores on every make and model can also vary wildly from year to year.
Especially if you’re purchasing from a private party, you’ll want to mitigate the chances you’re purchasing a lemon. If you’ve found the car you want, taken it for a test drive, and are ready to take the next step, visit your mechanic. Even if you’re purchasing a used car from a dealership, there is no harm in asking for a second opinion.
The one exception to this rule would be for Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. In that case, the low mileage and age restrictions for certification and the warranty that comes along with the certification mean an independent inspection from your mechanic is unnecessary.
At the end of your car-buying journey, if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll more likely than not drive home in a used car that fits your needs and will last. If you have any questions or are interested in seeing the Certified Pre-Owned vehicles we have on the lots at the Stephen Wade family of dealerships, come on down and see us at Southern Utah’s Auto Mall on Auto Mall Drive in St. George.
We can help you find the Certified Pre-Owned vehicle you’re looking for from any of our 13 brands.