Four Steps in Deciding to Buy a Used Hybrid Car

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Published December 07, 2012

| Bankrate.com

Buying a hybrid car may be an appealing way to save money on gas and to be environmentally friendly, but the price premium of a new hybrid car is often a stopper for many new-car buyers. One way to avoid the extra cost of many hybrid cars (versus their gasoline counterparts) is to buy a used hybrid car. Now that hybrid cars have been on the road for several years, it is easier than ever to find a used model that suits your needs for a reasonable price. Make sure you're satisfied with these four factors to determine if a used hybrid car is right for you.

You drive at least the average number of miles or more. While you can save money by buying a used hybrid car, some used hybrids still cost more than their used gasoline-fueled counterparts. While the price difference typically isn't as dramatic as it is on new cars, you will still take longer to recoup your additional investment. Hybrid cars get better fuel economy, so the more miles you drive, the faster you will recoup the extra cost. To get to the break-even point the quickest, you'll want to be someone who logs at least an average number of miles annually (12,000 is typical) or more.

You have a dealer or independent hybrid mechanic conveniently located. While any mechanic can handle some of the repairs and maintenance on a hybrid car, you will still need to bring your hybrid car to the dealership or an independent mechanic with hybrid training for certain maintenance and repairs. Make sure there's a dealership or mechanic located near your home or work that is qualified to work on the hybrid car you are considering buying to save time and prevent hassles.

You are comfortable with the extra cost of auto insurance. Hybrids are often touted as cheaper to own because of the cost savings in fuel, but many hybrids cost a bit more to insure than their gasoline-fueled counterparts. Contact your local car insurance agent or get an auto insurance quote online for any hybrid cars you are considering buying (as well as any gasoline-only models). You'll be fully aware of your car insurance costs before you make your purchase.

You want to buy a certified preowned car or you have a qualified independent mechanic who can thoroughly inspect the car before you buy. Being confident you are buying a used car that is in tip-top shape is important regardless of what model you buy, but with hybrid cars there is often a greater concern due to the hybrid powertrain. For added peace of mind, use an independent mechanic with hybrid car expertise to thoroughly inspect any cars you are interested in buying from private parties. Or, buy a hybrid car that has been certified preowned, or CPO, through the automaker. Toyota has a separate CPO program for hybrids. All of the automakers that sell hybrid cars will certify these cars through their standard CPO program.

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