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Car Buying Tips

Debunking the Myths of What Makes a Good Used Car

(ARA) - For those in the market to buy a used vehicle, there is definitely some homework to be done. Online price comparisons, vehicle ratings, personal inspections, professional inspections and vehicle history checks are all critical parts of the process.

Despite all this information gathering, however, even the most savvy and educated used car buyers can sometimes fall back on folklore passing as common wisdom about what is or isn’t a good purchase. Unfortunately, myths and assumptions can keep people from choosing the vehicle that is truly best for them.

For instance, most everyone is drawn to the idea of a car that was owned by another person – someone like them. However, when many used car buyers happen upon a former rental car, it typically sends up a red flag. But should it?

According to research from Experian Automotive, being a former rental car is not necessarily a negative for potential buyers. Short-term rental cars tend to have been through strict maintenance regimens, which can help ensure their longevity even though they may be driven harder than non-rental vehicles.

Another common misconception is that cars with only one prior owner are automatically better than similar vehicles that have had more than one owner.

Though farfetched, the notion of a car owned only by some sweet elderly woman whose commutes were restricted to church and the grocery store remains appealing and sought after. However, Experian’s vehicle history research shows that unless a vehicle is 8 years or older, the number of owners isn’t a major factor in the vehicle’s projected longevity.

Other people avoid buying used cars from the “saltwater states” bordering the ocean, or those that may have often been driven on bumpy, unpaved roads. Geography, in fact, has little to do with the longevity of a used vehicle. Whether a vehicle was used on highways or rural routes, in icy, northern winters or balmy, southern summers, statistics show that location has no material bearing on the projected longevity of the car.

Cars having been through a wholesale auction are also frequently seen as less favorable. But these auctions are and have been a common way for used car dealers to find vehicles for their lot or to eliminate excessive inventory. Many times vehicles at auctions are fresh off a lease – usually meaning they are only slightly used with relatively low mileage – which statistics show is a definite positive for potential buyers.

A new feature of Experian’s AutoCheck ( called the AutoCheck Score takes statistical analysis of millions of vehicle histories and compares that to an individual used car you may be considering. Like a credit score, it produces a numeric summary for that specific car based on dozens of factors in that vehicle’s past, and compares it to the scores of similar vehicles. It’s the picture of a vehicle’s history based on real research, not on myths and guesses.

“There is no safe or sane way to buy a used car or truck based solely on common myths or assumptions. Buy a vehicle history report that makes it easy to understand and compare a vehicle’s history. The best way to do this is to purchase a report with a score, which offers the quick and easy information you need to buy with confidence,” says Adam Goldfein, host of consumer automotive show AutoScoop. “Buying a used car without a vehicle history report, especially without one that includes a score, is asking for a lot of expensive trouble.”

Besides its age and odometer reading, the AutoCheck Score factors in reported events such as title and registration information, collisions, auction data, the vehicle’s emission history, whether it’s ever been repossessed or stolen, whether the vehicle has ever been a government car, police car or taxi and whether it’s ever been leased. The AutoCheck Score does the analysis, helping you easily understand what a vehicle history report really says about that used car and buy with more confidence.

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