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Used Car Buyer's Guide

Woman handing over car keys
One question we’re often asked is, “Is it better to buy a new or used car?” New and used cars offer their own benefits, as well as potential drawbacks. What’s important is what you stand to gain from your purchase. North Charleston drivers prefer new or used for different reasons. Keep reading to learn more about how new and used cars compare, and how to navigate used car buying if you decide to go that route.

What’s the Difference Between New & Used Cars?

New Car Benefits

  • Latest Infotainment: New cars debut the latest technologies from car manufacturers. It’s possible to find a used car with recent technologies, but you might not get the very latest version.
  • Greater Fuel-Efficiency: The rise in popularity of 4-cylinder engines, turbo engines, and hybrid technology has made new cars more fuel-efficient. A used car from ten years ago probably won’t be able to match the fuel economy ratings of a brand-new car of the same type.
  • Full Warranty Coverage: New vehicles come with a series of warranties. Used cars can be protected under warranty for a certain amount of time, but you may need to consider an extended warranty for additional protection.

What to Consider About New Cars

  • More Expensive: It’s common knowledge that new cars are more expensive than used cars. The cost of the car also includes expenses like sales taxes, dealer charges, and registration and title fees.

Used Car Benefits

  • More Affordable: If need a car, but your budget doesn’t allow for a brand-new one, a used good is the next best option.
  • Slower Depreciation: New cars begin to lose their value as soon as they’re purchased and driven off the dealership lot. Because they’re old and have already depreciated in value, used cars depreciate more slowly.
  • Less Chance for Negative Equity: Negative equity is when you owe more on your car than what it’s worth. This is less likely to happen with a used car, because used-car loans are generally smaller than new-car loans.

What to Consider About Used Cars

  • Higher-Priced Financing: While used cars are generally cheaper to finance, they do often come with higher interest rates. The value of a used car is less concrete than a new car, which affects the interest rates on a used car loan. 

What is Good Mileage for Used Cars?

Low-mileage used cars are generally thought of as being late-model cars with fewer than 50,000 miles on their odometers. That said, you can still find a good pre-owned car with 50,000 miles or more. When you’re shopping in Charleston for a used car, keep the following points in mind:

  • Age vs. Mileage: The average driver drives about 12,000 miles per year. So, if a car is two years old with 80,000 miles, it has obviously been driven more frequently than a three-old-year used car with 40,000 miles.
  • Year of Manufacture: Later-model cars with good mileage are commodities on the used car market. On the other hand, a car that’s over ten years can still be a good buy if it has a well-documented service record and a clean vehicle history report.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance separates reliable used cars from riskier buys. Whether you’re looking at a late-model car with low mileage, or an older car with high mileage, make sure it has a detailed service history.

Other Tips and Tricks for Buying Used

  • Model Generation: Every car model on the market has one or more generations. A generation of the car you’re considering might have documented issues that could make it a poor choice for you. Use Kelley Blue Book or to compare model generations, as well as ownership costs and reviews.
  • Vehicle History Report: Don’t buy a used car without a vehicle history report. You can use the vehicle history report to check service records, accident history, police records, and DMV records.
  • Location: Extreme heat and cold put mechanical stress on a vehicle. Use the vehicle history report to find out where a car was driven and the climate it could’ve been subjected to.
  • Foreign Luxury Car Brands: While foreign luxury cars can be exciting to own and drive, they can be expensive and difficult to service. Browse our selection of certified pre-owned vehicles to find a CPO Chevy that’s late-model and includes a ton of recent amenities and technologies.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

It’s common for used car shoppers to feel at sea. The main reason for that is the wide variety of options from different makes. Take the following steps to simplify the car shopping process and find a model that meets your needs:

  • Make a Budget: Setting a budget is always a good starting point. Figure out how much you can afford to put down on a car, as well as how much you can afford to pay monthly for the next few years.
  • Choose the Car for You: What kind of car do you need, and which features do you want? Create a list of must-haves for your next vehicle, and use it to whittle down your options.
  • Test Drive & Inspect a Model: Test drive the car you have in mind before buying. You’ll want to get a feel for the ride height and how the car handles. If possible, have a mechanic inspect the car for any issues that could be costly to fix.
  • Finance Your Car: If the car seems like a good fit, begin the financing process. If you have a car you’d like to trade in, you can put the money from the sale toward a down payment.

What to Ask When Buying a Used Car

When in doubt, ask questions. The history of a used car can be somewhat murky, so it’s a good idea to ask questions about accident history, mileage, service, and more. Here’s a list of example questions you should ask:

  • Is the car as is, or is it under warranty?
  • Does this vehicle affect your insurance premiums?
  • Is there a history of maintenance?
  • Is the vehicle history report available?
  • Do the amenities and features work like they’re supposed to?
  • What is the ownership history?
  • What is the vehicle’s mileage?
  • Are there any current recalls on the vehicle?
  • How was the vehicle priced?
  • Can I take the car to a mechanic for an inspection?
  • Do you have the title in hand?

Steps After Buying a Used Car

Take the following steps to set yourself up for success after purchasing your new-to-you vehicle:

  • Get Car Insurance: Driving without insurance is illegal, so make sure you have your insurance policy on your new-to-you car ready to go. If you know which car you’re buying, you can call your insurance company before visiting the dealership. This will save you some time.
  • Complete Registration & Title Transfer: When you buy a car at a dealership, they’ll take care of the title and registration paperwork. No need to go anywhere else.
  • Find a Reliable Mechanic: Keep your new-to-you car in good condition by regularly visiting a dependable mechanic. Routine service and maintenance will help you hold onto your car for longer.
  • Book Service: After you buy the car, schedule a service appointment. It may need small services like an oil change or brake fluid replacement.
  • Read the Owner’s Manual: Familiarize yourself with your car’s features. Your owner’s manual will also tell you more about recommended service intervals and the kinds of fluids your vehicle needs.
  • Check for Recalls: As the owner of a car, you should be notified of any open recalls on your car. If you own a Chevy and receive a recall notification, you bring your car to Rick Hendrick Chevrolet for a recall repair.
  • Consider an Extended Warranty: An extended warranty can be a worthy addition to your service budget if you plan to keep your car for several years.

Finance a Used Car for Sale at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Today!

Take one of our used cars for sale for a test drive around Charleston! Contact us online or call us at (843) 405-2995 to schedule an appointment Mount Pleasant and James Island. In the meantime, browse our used vehicle specials for opportunities to save even more on a reliable used car.

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Hendrick Vehicle Disclaimer:
$699.00 Closing Fee is not included in advertised price.

All prices exclude all taxes, tag, title, registration fees and government fees. Out of state buyers are responsible for all taxes and government fees and title/registration fees in the state where the vehicle will be registered. All prices include all manufacturer to dealer incentives, which the dealer retains unless otherwise specifically provided. Dealer not responsible for errors and omissions; all offers subject to change without notice; please confirm listings with dealer.

All vehicles may not be physically located at this dealership but may be available for delivery through this location. Transportation charges may apply. Please contact the dealership for more specific information. All vehicles are subject to prior sale.


Additional Disclaimers:

Well-qualified customers who purchase a new, used, or certified pre-owned vehicle, 4 model years or newer with less than 60K miles between June 3, 2024, and July 31, 2024, and finance through a participating dealer and lender have the option to defer monthly payments for 90 days from contract date. Finance charges begin to accrue on the date you sign the Retail Installment Sale Contract at the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the contract. May not be combined with other preferred lender financing offers. 72 months maximum term limit. Equal monthly payments only. Not available to Pennsylvania residents; see your dealer for details. Must take retail delivery by July 31, 2024. See dealer for complete down payment options and details.

*1.9% APR for 36 months. Monthly payment is $28.60 for every $1,000 you finance. Example down payment varies by model. Must finance with GM Financial. Down payment required at signing, if applicable.1.9% APR available for 36 months. 10% Off MSRP Based on an MSRP of $57,490. Must trade in a 2010 model year or newer vehicle. Not available with special financing, lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 7/1/24.


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