America has fallen in love with the SUV, a cross between a car and a truck that has offered another option than the minivan to the families who have plenty of people to haul and a passenger-friendly option for those who want the size and brawn of a truck. As the love affair with the SUV has continued, automakers have adapted their offerings from full-size options on truck frames, like the Suburban or the Expedition, to everything from the slightly taller hatchback subcompact versions like the Escape and the Juke to the just-right middle ground of a Sorento or an Explorer. How do you know which one is the right choice for you?
The Different Types of Used SUVs
If you're in the market for a used SUV, your first goal will be deciding what size you want. Most used SUVs on the market likely fall between the subcompact to the mid-size range, as these have been the most popular in the last few years. These kinds of used SUVs are essentially built on car frames, called unibody frames, with unique SUV styling. The bonus of this type of design is that you get better handling and better fuel economy, which may make the transition from car to SUV easier for some drivers.
A full-size SUV, however, is a different story. These types of SUVs are body-on-frame constructions, which means that the body of the vehicle is separate from the frame. This type of construction gives the vehicle more resistance to off-roading and hauling stress, as well as giving it more weight. That may mean less budget-friendly fuel economy, but it definitely means that you can carry heavier loads and handle more rugged circumstances.
Checklist for Buying a Used SUV
Unless the SUV you're looking at comes with extra options, like a 4x4 or AWD, you can pretty much treat the subcompact to mid-size used SUVs you're looking at the same way you would treat any used car you're looking to purchase.
1: Do Your Research On Used SUV Models
Every model has plenty of reviews on it, especially once it has been on the road for a few years. Do your research with reputable sources like Consumer Reports to ensure that the model you're looking at is as reliable as you want. Check to see what maintenance issues owners are running into and what issues have been reported.
2: Know What You Want in a Used SUV
Obviously, every trim level on a used SUV will have different features and elements that you may want to make a part of your used SUV purchase. When you're researching the reliability records of the models, make sure you know if the models you're interested in have the features and options you want. For example, if you're looking for all-wheel drive, you may actually be limited to certain manufacturers and certain trim levels of smaller SUVs. The same could be true of leather interiors, certain infotainment options, or some safety packages. Knowing exactly what you're looking for--and what models offer it--will help you stay focused in your search.
3: Find a Reputable Used SUV Dealer
Obviously, when you're looking for a used SUV, you have a lot of options--private party, auction, or used car dealers come to mind. However, when you choose a reputable used SUV dealer, you get a lot of perks from your choice. A dealer depends on their good name and reputation to continue to do business. Take a look at their reviews and their background. Find out what other buyers' experience has been, and then go with the best possible used SUV dealer you can find. Make sure that you feel comfortable and confident. Dealers like Idaho Falls Cars & Trucks have the ability to do full inspections of the vehicles they buy, which means they're unlikely to sell vehicles that are less than the highest quality. The owners of Idaho Falls Cars & Trucks have been in the automotive business for nearly 50 years, and they're not willing to let anything less than the best into their inventory.
Another benefit you can get from a dealer like Idaho Falls Cars & Trucks is a warranty. While many used SUVs bought private party are a cash and carry purchase, with no recourse if you find problems later on, Idaho Falls Cars & Trucks offer certified-grade used SUVs, often with manufacturer's warranties that are still in place. If the used SUV you're interested in does not have an existing warranty, you can learn more about third-party warranty options through your dealership.
4: Inspect the Used SUV
When you go to look at the vehicle, make sure that you inspect not only the exterior, but the interior as well. Even if you're not a car expert, you can look for certain red flags on the exterior: --Body: look for rust in the wheelwells, rocker panels, and door bottom; misalignment of body panels; paint differences --Glass & Lights: look for pockmarks in the glass and make sure that all the lights work properly, including indicator lights on the dash --Suspension: bounce each corner of the vehicle up and down, and if the vehicle rebounds more than once, question the suspension --Tires: look at wear the tires are worn--for example, aggressive drivers wear out the outside shoulder of the front tires on the edge of the sidewall.
The interior should be inspected as well, with attention paid to any signs of water intrusion. --Odor: when you enter the vehicle, do you notice any particular odor? Pay attention to musty or mildew odors, as well as smoke. --Seats: is the upholstery in good condition? --Pedals: are the pedals worn in proportion with the mileage? If you notice a difference, you might consider the wear and tear on the vehicle --Roof and trunk: look for wear and especially for any indication that water has intruded into the car, like water marks or lines
5: Enlist a Trusted Mechanic to Inspect the Used SUV
Make sure that you have the vehicle that you are interested in purchasing inspected by a trusted mechanic. Ideally, that mechanic will be experienced in diagnostic inspections, so that s/he can take a look at all of the different systems at work. Make sure that your mechanic takes a look underneath the vehicle, for evidence of leaks, structural damage, or welding that may indicate a past accident.
The Difference for Full-Size Used SUVs
Because full-size SUVs have the capacity to haul more and handle off-road adventures, you'll want to make sure to take those elements into account as you are evaluating a potential used SUV purchase. Ask your mechanic to check out the undercarriage for scrapes, scratches, and bent parts, which would indicate a tough life and may mean additional wear on the suspension and chassis. Also ask your dealer for the vehicle records, which should tell you if there have been any accidents and if maintenance was carried out regularly.