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Shopping for a Used Hybrid Car

Joining the green team isn’t as expensive as it once was. With new makes and models coming out each year, gasoline engines and electric motor cars are starting to look more attractive. In fact, 55 different hybrids are expected to be available by 2015, according to Whether it’s emission reduction that has you thinking hybrid or the idea of spending less on gas, there are reasons why hybrids are appealing to a wider audience. While not quite yet considered mainstream, these gadget-equipped cars with luxurious interiors are worth considering– especially used. Here’s why and how:

Incentives of a Hybrid

Besides saving gas and reducing emissions, consider the other benefits of driving a hybrid. The U.S. federal government and various state governments offer tax credits. Some cities allow single-passenger hybrids to drive in carpool lanes or park for free in municipal lots and insurance companies provide additional savings. Depending on your driving style, a hybrid might not be that much more economical for you than a standard vehicle. But, if you are regularly caught in stop-and-go traffic or mainly take short trips around town, a hybrid can help you save immensely. Hybrids mainly use an electric motor during low speeds, meaning they shut down the gas engine entirely when stopped.

Look at Alternatives

Sometimes just visiting a trusted used car dealership can land you the perfect car without doing any prior research. But before heading out to Drive Time or another reputable used car dealership to make your purchase, look at all of the options out there and consider the variety of vehicle styles. If you are sure you want a hybrid (as opposed to a plug-in hybrid or an all-electric vehicle), what specific type do you want? Mixed hybrids are the most common, but full, mild, parallel and series hybrids are also available. After deciding what type you are interested in, weigh the pros and cons of purchasing from a dealership or a private party. Buying from a private owner can help you get a good idea of how the car runs and what kind of gas mileage it averaged. However, buying from a dealership might provide more variety, leasing options and incentives.

Why Buy Used

Hybrids have been on the market since model year 2000, making buying used a viable alternative for those who want to go green but are unwilling or unable to buy the latest model. Though older makes may not have the newest technology, any used hybrid still offers the same great benefits of emission reduction, saving money on gas and other government incentives. Plus, you conveniently don’t have to pay for the first year of depreciation in value.

A major concern for used hybrid buyers is the car battery and its replacement and warranty. Check with the manufacturer’s customer service for specifics, but generally an 8-10 year/80,000-100,000 mile warranty will cover battery replacement. According to, battery replacement could cost about $2,000 to $3,000, though often the manufacturer will cover most of the cost.

Educate Yourself

Do enough research to know the vehicle’s worth before visiting a dealership. Educate yourself about the vehicle you plan to buy using online tools such as Kelley Blue Book, a fair market vehicle value resource. You should approach a car negotiation with confidence, knowledge and a price goal in mind. Ask for the vehicle’s title history before agreeing to purchase it. A website like Carfax allows parties to order a report for about $30.



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