Whether you change your car every few years, or run it to the ground where not even the best mechanic in town can fix it, when purchasing a car, you will have to decide whether a new or used vehicle is right for you.

Here are several things you should consider before buying a used car:

Dealer or Private Sale?
A dealer is always going to be a better bet; a private sale might be honest in every way, the vehicle may have a full service and maintenance history. However, if that “one careful driver” had a habit of riding on the brakes, you’re in for an expensive brake replacement bill very shortly. A responsible dealer would have gone over that car with a fine-tooth comb, and fixed any problems waiting to happen.

As a buyer, it is also better to purchase a used car through a dealer. If you have an ongoing relationship with any business – for example, many of the best auto repair shops will have a dealership attached, you may find your deal sweetened by extras such as cash discounts, new tires, or even attractive trade-in deals for your existing vehicle.

Do Used Cars Retain Their Value?
While buying a new car may be ideal, they tend to lose up to 60% of their value within three to five years, especially the high-end models. If you’re really looking for more value for your money, a three-year-old top of the line model tends to sell at the same price as the same manufacturer’s brand new base line of cars. If the driving experience is an essential item on your list, the increased comfort and responsiveness of a higher-end model would provide the best value to you.

Check the Annual Consumer Reports
Check consumer reports to find out the used car’s reliability. This guide shows detailed reliability ratings compiled from reports on common issues on over half a million cars that are on the road.

Get the Used Car Inspected by Your Auto Mechanic
Don’t rely on what the salesperson tells you about the car. Never fully trust the employee at the car dealership or the independent seller. Get the used car checked by a trusted auto mechanic. They will give unbiased feedback of the car.

Also, while buying a used car, make sure that it is mechanically sound and buy it at the right time.