Used Car Buyers: What They’re Looking For and How to Finance Them

Trends in the used car market have shifted in recent years, and modern consumers are not only looking for different things in the vehicles they select, they are also expecting a more streamlined buying experience.

For buyers in the used car market, price has always been the number one constraint. These consumers are trying to balance mileage, model, model year, and features in order to find a suitable vehicle that fits within their budget.

By staying informed of what this market is seeking and understanding how to best sell and finance them, dealerships can adjust their approach to close more deals.


Today, consumers are buying higher-mileage vehicles with reduced residuals over low-mileage options.

When it comes to vehicle model, pickup trucks tend to be the most popular models across used car sales in the U.S. and many used car buyers will stretch their finances to attain certain luxury brands. Additionally, mid-size SUV’s are in higher demand than other mid-sized models.

Considering model year, dealerships are seeing an overabundance of newer, less expensive used models sitting in their lots, while older vehicles maintain a steady sales stream. The average age of a trade-in on a new car is six years, so buyers seeking a near-new used car have plenty of options. However, used cars that are 10-15-years-old only make up 10% of sales across the market.

For modern consumers, many vehicle features that didn’t exist a few years ago are now considered essential and practical features in their daily lives. Use car buyers can often be up-sold by models that offer technology including navigation systems, satellite radios, Bluetooth connectivity, mobile integration, emergency braking assistance, and rear camera and sensor options.


Financing can be more complex for a used car than a new car, and used cars often have fewer dealer incentives to capture buyers.

Used car buyers also tend to have tighter budgets than new car buyers, so price and monthly payments are still the most significant deciding factors. You’ll want to be upfront about all costs, and avoid surprising them with charges they weren’t aware of during the initial sale.

It’s also important to streamline the buying and financing process as much as possible—with the rise of online sales in this market, dealerships are rethinking their business model to better serve customers. You’ll always want to make the buyer feel like they have options and flexibility. Providing educational material in your dealership about things this segment is considering—certified pre-owned vehicles, aftermarket products, and payment options—is an easy way to support and encourage the buyer before completing the purchase.

Additionally, credit unions tend to offer better rates for their members than the majority of other lenders, and 70% of credit union auto loan portfolios are made up by the used car market. Taking this figure into account can be beneficial as your prepare your financing strategy and options for the used car customer.

Used car buyers also tend to purchase one or more aftermarket product, like a vehicle service contract (VSC) or maintenance plan, to protect their investment. By offering zero-interest or low-interest financing options, like Budco Financial’s Installment Payment Plan, your dealership can have more success bundling F&I add-ons into the total sale, when the products are unable to be included with the vehicle financing.

Additionally, working with partners who offer electronic communications, contracting, invoicing, and payment receipts further streamlines the process for the buyers.

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