If your current ride is long in the tooth, the tires are bald and the engine is ready to quit, this might be when it makes sense to buy a used car (as opposed to new). But there are a few other times that used is perhaps more appropriate than new. Here, we take a look at some of them.

  • Get more car for less money. Obviously, if you can get more of what you want and need and pay less money for it, that’s a good deal, right? Buying a used car, instead of going for the brand-new model, allows you to get a lot of the features you want without having to ante up lots of extra cash to do so. You may also want to buy a more upscale model in the same vehicle line or move up from a brand-new compact to a nearly-new two-year-old midsize sedan. It’s all in how you stretch your available car-buying budget.
  • Depreciation hit is already out of the way. True, cars will continue to depreciate the older they are, but if you look at a newer used vehicle, say two years or so, the bit hit of depreciation is already past. Really, a new car depreciates as soon as it rolls off the lot, so if you can save a big chunk of change by buying used, it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
  • No headaches with Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. If you’re leery of buying used because you think you’d be inheriting someone else’s problems, consider looking at a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. These go through 100+ point inspections, may even have their own extended warranties, and can allay your worries about buying used.
  • Extra set of wheels for the family. Another time when it makes sense to buy a used car is if you need an extra vehicle in the family to help out your spouse, or if your teenager needs wheels to get to and from school, or you just want an inexpensive commuter car to save on gas.  A good used vehicle is not only generally less expensive to insure, but if you choose one with good reliability, will also save you money on maintenance and repairs in the long run.
  • Less expensive when money is tight. Maybe you really want to buy that brand-new car, but financing is difficult or money is just tight. You may find a more reasonable alternative in a well-cared-for used car, provided you have sufficient cash to pay for it up-front. That’s because used car financing may be also out of reach, although you should still investigate this option, since you might be able to secure the amount you need to buy the used car you’re considering.

Check Out Most Reliable Used Cars

How can you know which used cars are the most reliable? Check out listings of the Best and the Worst Used Cars from Consumer Reports (full details require a subscription, or pick up the April 2012 issue at the newsstand).

As the publication points out, used vehicles from Toyota and Honda again top the list of the best used cars, but General Motors also has eight of 24 vehicles in the best used cars list. The Consumer Reports list comprises 2002 to 2011 models.

Another source is Edmunds 2011 Used Car Best Bets which lists as category winners: 2004-2009 Hyundai Elantra (compact sedan); 2004-2009 Nissan Altima (midsize sedan); 2004-2009 Honda CR-V (compact SUV/crossover); 2004-2009 Ford Explorer (midsize SUV/crossover); 2004-2009 Honda Odyssey (minivan); 2004-2009 Toyota Prius (hybrid), and 2004-2009 Infiniti G35/G37 (luxury).

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