Today, even a pre-owned vehicle can be a big financial commitment. Before you start looking: 

  • Decide what type of vehicle you need and research it.
  • List what options you want.
  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Figure other costs, like insurance and registration. 

A dealership should provide a Buyer’s Guide, and you’ll want to ask about:

  • Any discounts
  • Information on major mechanical and electrical systems
  • A warranty and servicing
  • The vehicle’s history
  • Inspection by an independent mechanic
  • Extra services, like rustproofing
  • Any return policy

Warranties & Service Contracts

Some used vehicles come with full warranties or even an unexpired manufacturer’s warranty. Others have a limited warranty, which will cover some of the vehicle’s systems or components. If the vehicle you choose doesn’t have a warranty, the dealer won’t pay for any needed repairs.

Full and Limited Warranties: Find out what is covered, like some or all of the car’s components.

Manufacturer's Warranty: Ask if there is any warranty left on the vehicle. If there is, find out what is covered and when it expires.

Service Contracts: Consider a contract that covers certain repairs or services. Choose one with benefits like emergency roadside assistance and allows you to use the repair shop of your choice.

Whatever you choose, be sure to get and keep all paperwork regarding the coverage.

To find a car’s value, see the NADA Vehicle Pricing Tool and visit for more information.