IntroductionSo the big news five months in to 2009 is that people are shopping for more used cars, and shopping for more of the same used cars too. We took a look at tens of thousands of used car transactions across our sites from January through May to give you the Top 20 Most Popular Used Cars in 2009. On a side note, we decided to list only the make and model, and not the year, because we felt year would reflect more on available inventory while make and model is the best relfection of consumer preference. We also looked back at this same period in 2008, and there are a couple new faces this year (GMC Yukon, Pontiac Grand Prix, Honda Odyssey, and Honda CR-V), and a couple that weren't invited back (Jeep Wrangler, Ford Expedition, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen New Beetle). As you browse through this year's hot sellers, check out our used car tips for when you decide to start looking for your next vehicle on the pre-owned lot. All photos courtesy of the respective manufacturers
2009 Rank: 20
2008 Rank: Not Ranked
Used Car Tip: A big mistake buyers make is going to auto dealers and buying used cars for sale that "catch the eye." Seeing used cars for sale with a low price is enticing, as buyers feel they need to move quickly before someone else grabs the deal.
Pontiac Grand Prix
2009 Rank: 19
2008 Rank: Not Ranked
Used Car Tip: Auto dealers will find every reason to convince you to buy used cars for sale while you are in their lot. Auto dealers also know that car buyers who are buying used cars for sale and decide to take a car home for an overnight test drive are much more likely to buy it, because they feel obligated to pay for something in their possession.
2009 Rank: 18
2008 Rank: Not Ranked
Used Car Tip: Even if you need to buy used cars for sale now, taking your time is important. Having to carpool or use public transportation for several days rather than rushing into a decision can avoid additional costs with maintenance and fuel for inefficient used cars.
2009 Rank: 17
2008 Rank: 18
Used Car Tip: Used cars for sale are more reliable than ever, especially those made within the past 10 years. However, not all used cars for sale are durable; some research is needed. Once you decide whether you need a compact or mid-size, a sedan or a pick-up/SUV, you should consult a buyer guide to that particular vehicle.
2009 Rank: 16
2008 Rank: 17
Used Car Tip: It is important to know what your car is worth, so check with resources like Autobytel to avoid overpaying for used cars for sale. You can find a number of resources online, including full reviews and ratings of used cars for sale and recommendations of the best used cars for sale on the market.
2009 Rank: 15
2008 Rank: Not Ranked
Used Car Tip: When you choose a car, stick with it - don't get pressured by auto dealers or be won over by seeing a particular car on the lot. Buyers who are looking at used cars for sale will often purchase more car than they need, such as by buying an SUV when they need a smaller commuting car for work, which means more money spent on gas and maintenance.
2009 Rank: 14
2008 Rank: 14
Used Car Tip: Used auto dealers have a less than stellar reputation, but the industry has changed. With national chains like CarMax and new auto dealers carrying more used cars, buyers looking for used cars for sale have more options to buy high-quality used cars.
2009 Rank: 13
2008 Rank: 12
Used Car Tip: An alternative to leasing is assuming someone else's lease. This is advantageous because you can take over a lease without having to provide a down payment, and the car will often still be under warranty. Check out Swapalease.com for more information.
2009 Rank: 12
2008 Rank: 11
Used Car Tip: Lift up the hood and look for indications of leaks around the engine seams and hose connectors. If the vehicle is an automatic, pull out the transmission dipstick and observe the color of the fluid. It should be pinkish or pale red and sweet smelling. If the fluid is brown or burnt, there may be a transmission problem.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
2009 Rank: 11
2008 Rank: 13
Used Car Tip: Drive the vehicle on the highway and in the city, listening for rattles, squeaks and wind leaks. The transmission should shift seamlessly, and the car should not pull to one side when you are driving or braking. The brakes should not squeak or squeal when applied. A vehicle equipped with power steering should not whine when you turn the steering wheel; the wheel should return to a straight position after you turn a corner.
2009 Rank: 10
2008 Rank: 10
Used Car Tip: It is important that you know the auto dealers you are considering buying from before viewing their used cars for sale. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to find out about possible complaints, or ask your auto dealers about their policies should there be a problem with your purchase.
2009 Rank: 9
2008 Rank: 8
Used Car Tip: A thorough inspection of used cars for sale is important and could reveal any problems that may be "glossed" over by the auto dealers. If you have a trusted mechanic, have him inspect any used cars for sale that you are considering.
2009 Rank: 8
2008 Rank: 7
Used Car Tip: If auto dealers resist having one of their used cars for sale inspected by a third party, beware. You can also do an in-depth inspection yourself. Check under the seats and under carpets if possible, and inspect under the trunk lining. Water damage would be especially visible there.
2009 Rank: 7
2008 Rank: 6
Used Car Tip: Consider what the previous owner of any used cars for sale used the car for. If a used pickup has a winch, a trailer hitch and large all-terrain tires, look for evidence that it may have been used for off-roading, or it may have been pulling heavy loads, which could have put strain on the body frame that you cannot see.
2009 Rank: 6
2008 Rank: 9
Used Car Tip: Samarins.com offers a free printable checklist that lists a number of things to look for and ask auto dealers about. Among their suggestions: Ask auto dealers how many owners any used cars for sale have had, check if the car's exterior body lines match up for evidence of previous wrecks or body damage, and look under the hood of any used cars for sale for evidence of poor maintenance, including a dirty oil cap, corroded battery terminals or a burned oil smell when the engine runs.
Ford Mustang2009 Rank: 5
2008 Rank: 5
Used Car Tip: Nervous about the quality of a used car? Buy from a Factory-certified pre-owned program which means the vehicle as comes with a thorough inspection, needed repairs, and possibly a warranty. This of course will be built into the price, and will typically be costlier than an equivalent non-certified pre-owned used car.
2009 Rank: 4
2008 Rank: 3
Used Car Tip: Check the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the dash, engine and major body parts to ensure they are the same. If any numbers are different, something has happened to this vehicle that made a major replacement necessary. You should also run a vehicle history report.
2009 Rank: 3
2008 Rank: 4
Used Car Tip: Buyers of used cars for sale are often so eager to make a purchase that they neglect to get a history of a car. Some sites provide reports (often for a fee) that could save you from potential trouble. Take the time, get the facts and ask auto dealers if they can provide a car history for free, which could save you time and money.
2009 Rank: 2
2008 Rank: 2
Used Car Tip: If you do get a lemon from auto dealers, you need to know your rights. Lemon laws vary state to state, and CarLemon.com provides information on each state's law and provides tips should you have a problem.
2009 Rank: 1
2008 Rank: 1
Used Car Tip: Buying used cars for sale from auto dealers shouldn't be rushed. It also shouldn't be a negative experience. Buyers who do their homework on used cars for sale, who refuse to be pressured by auto dealers, who negotiate a firm lower price with auto dealers and who are willing to walk away from auto dealers will not only get the used cars they want, but they'll get them at the best price.