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What Do You Need in a Used Car?

Michael Jones

Auto Loan Expert

You’ve decided that it’s time to buy a used car. But now what? Many people realize they need a car but don’t know what they need in a car. There’s the obvious answers like “an engine” or “doors” but that’s really just avoiding the question. In order to understand what you need in a used car, you need to understand how you’re going to be using it. Making decisions about a few different factors can help clarify the situation and help you figure out what you’re looking for in a used car.

Daily Use

What Do You Need in a Used Car?

The first thing you should think about is how you will most frequently used the car. If you’re only using it to go to the store and work then your needs won’t be the same as someone who is planning on using their used car to haul farm equipment. This is an important consideration because you don’t want to get more loan for used car than you need.

Your daily use will also determine how reliable you need the car to be. While everyone wants their used car to be as reliable as possible, those who drive 50 miles to work have a greater need for reliability than those who only drive five miles to work.

Planned Lifespan

Another important factor to consider is how long you plan on your used car lasting. In an ideal world cars would never break down, but it does happen. If you are expecting to need another car in a year or two, then your needs will be different from someone who intends to utilize their used car for the next decade. If you want your used car to last longer then you should focus on buying newer used cars, those with one or few previous owners, those with low mileage, and those with no history of accidents.

Moreover, if you are planning on keeping your car for a long time, you can take out different loans, a five year loan on a car that you’ll only have for two makes no sense, but is a sound financial decision for one that will last a decade. It’s also important to know that rates for used car loans for older cars are often higher, so you may wind up paying more for an older car than a newer one.

Features and Extras

Finally, most people spend a good deal of time in their car, so it is important to get a car that you’re comfortable in, especially given today’s used car loan rate. If you’re a music lover, look for a car with satellite radio and a good speaker system. People who are stressed or perform physical labor may prefer a car with built in massagers. Those who are in the cold might prefer heated seats. Some individuals prefer a manual transmission, while others might want an automatic.

Given how many options there are, and how much you’ll pay for a car loan for used car, you’ll want to make a list of features that are important to you. It’s essential to be aware of the fact that you may not find all the features you’re looking for in a used car, so rank them by priority, that way you’ll be able to figure out what cars you’re most interested in, and figure it out faster. This will save you time as well as make the used car buying process less overwhelming.

Finances and Loans

Finally, you’ll need to determine what kind of used car you can afford. Many websites have used car loan calculators that can give you an idea of the interest rates you’ll get. It’s to your advantage to have as large of a down payment as possible because that will lower the amount of your loan and also lower your interest rate. The pre-qualification process can be helpful in determining what lenders will offer you the best rates, as well as in helping you set a budget for a car that you can afford.


As you can see, it’s not so hard to figure out what you’re looking for in a used car. It should do what you need it to do, last as long as you plan, have the right features and extras, and be within your budget. If you can make those decisions then you’re well on your way to getting a used car.