How to Find Reliable Affordable Cars for Sale in Janesville, WI

December 12th, 2023 by

Busy car lot from aboveIs it just you, or are cheap cars for sale in Janesville, WI, really becoming more difficult to find?

Well, you’re not imagining things, and it’s not only Janesville experiencing this issue. Cheap vehicles have gotten scarcer due to inflation and decreasing inventory. For the same reasons, both new and used vehicle prices have shot up throughout the country.

But don’t despair yet, as finding a reliable car that won’t break your budget is still doable. You just have to know what to look for, where to shop, and what to avoid.

In this guide, we’ve shared our top tips to help you find affordable and reliable vehicles. Read on to learn what you can do to take home your budget-friendly dream car soon! 

Know What Makes a Car Reliable

The three primary factors influencing vehicle reliability are safety, maintenance, and fuel economy.

First, a reliable car has passed the safety tests conducted by the IIHS and NHTSA. Its upkeep also doesn’t cost much, and it has low projected maintenance and repair costs. Lastly, it has a good fuel economy or fuel efficiency rating, as estimated by the U.S. EPA. 

That said, you can use the following factors when searching for cheap new or used cars in Janesville. They can help narrow down your search to reliable makes and models. 

IIHS Safety Ratings

IIHS stands for Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings. It’s an independent, non-profit organization that reviews vehicles for their safety. It conducts annual crashworthiness tests on new cars.

The IIHS awards those that pass its stringent testing procedures with either a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ designation. Vehicles awarded with either are among the safest in the market.

Mazda has done exceptionally well in this regard, with six of its 2023 models being Top Safety Picks. These include the Mazda3 Sedan and Hatchback, both in the small car segment, and the compact SUVs CX-30, CX-5, and CX-50. The sixth is the mid-size CX-9 SUV.

As for the 2024 Mazda CX-90 and CX-90 PHEV, both received the Top Safety Pick+ designations

NHTSA Safety Ratings

NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s a federal government agency responsible for enforcing vehicle performance and safety standards. Like the IIHS, it conducts annual testing but uses a five-star rating.

The more stars the NHTSA awards a vehicle, the safer and more crashworthy it is. So, when shopping around for a reliable car, check how many stars it got from the NHTSA.

An excellent example is the 2023 Mazda CX-9. The NHTSA awarded this mid-size crossover SUV with a five-star overall safety rating. Many of its earlier model years have also received top scores. 

Maintenance Requirements and Costs

The last thing you want is to buy a cheap car, thinking you got a good deal, only for it to break down in a year or even a few months. While this is more likely to happen if you buy a used car from a private party, it can also occur due to an unreliable model. Or, it could be just because it’s a high-maintenance vehicle.

To avoid those issues, do your due diligence and research a vehicle’s maintenance requirements before buying it. You should also determine how much owners pay for upkeep and repairs. You’ll find plenty of reviews like this online, which can also give you an idea of how satisfied owners are about specific makes and models. 

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is a rating that measures the distance a car can travel on a specific amount of fuel. The higher the number, the more fuel-efficient or the better the mileage of a vehicle is. 

In the U.S., the unit used for fuel economy is MPG or miles per gallon. So, if a vehicle claims to have 30 MPG, it should be able to travel 30 miles while consuming only one gallon of fuel.

Fuel economy is a vital metric for car reliability since the higher the rating is, the more you can travel for less. With a higher mileage vehicle, you’ll have to make fewer trips to the gas pump. You can worry less about it using so much fuel that it runs out while you’re driving on a long road trip.

What mileage should you aim for, then?

As per the U.S. EPA, the real-world average fuel economy is around 25 MPG, so you should go for something higher. You can use the Fueleconomy.gov site as a reference when researching vehicle mileage. 

Buy From a Local Dealership

From Craigslist to Facebook Marketplace and even Instagram, all these have become popular online platforms for buying and selling used items, even vehicles. But while they can be an ideal way to find your dream ride in the local car market, they can still be a risky method. One reason is that they’re exempt from many laws that protect consumers.

For example, no law requires private sellers to provide warranties and guarantees. And even if some do, their warranties may be scams, too.

You may not be able to test drive a car that you want to purchase from a private seller, either. Another risk is that you might end up buying a flood-damaged vehicle.

Conversely, many regulations govern dealership sales, including express and implied warranties. Authorized dealers also have to live up to the name of the car manufacturer they represent. All these make buying a used car or a brand-new one from a dealer much safer. 

Use Specific Search Terms

When searching for cheap cars online, use specific search phrases that apply to your circumstances.

Let’s say your car buying budget is $10,000. In this case, you can type “pre-owned vehicles under $10,000 in Janesville, WI.” If your upper limit is $20,000, you can use this in your search terms.

The results should give you a few names of local authorized dealers. Visit at least three to see if they offer anything that meets your needs and are running dealer specials. Reliable dealerships often run promotions and give discounts, especially to students, military, and healthcare workers.

Next, take note of the dealerships’ names. Then, run their names online to see if there are reviews or complaints about them. If it’s a well-established dealership, it’ll most likely have hundreds, even thousands of reviews.

Read as many of those customer stories as possible. They can give you a better idea of how they fare in customer service, vehicle quality, inventory, and pricing. 

Search for Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Certified pre-owned vehicles undergo comprehensive inspections and tests aligned with their maker’s standards.

For example, CPO Mazda vehicles have completed and passed a 160-point inspection. Only Mazda-certified technicians can complete these procedures. All parts are also OEM (original equipment manufacturer) in good condition.

That makes CPO vehicles nearly as good as new, but because they’re not brand-new, they cost less.

All CPO vehicles, regardless of make, also have warranties.

For Mazda, this includes the remaining portion of the vehicle’s original 3-year or 36,000-mile coverage. On top of that is the CPO warranty that provides additional 12-month or 12,000-mile coverage. You can also expect it to have a 7-year or 100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty.

Another perk Mazda offers to CPO owners is 24-hour emergency roadside assistance. This covers not just the vehicle owner but also their qualified family members. 

Always Look for Vehicle History Reports

If you’ve decided to purchase a used car, limit your options to sellers ready to provide a vehicle history report.

A vehicle history report contains detailed information about a car, including:

  • The name of the current owner
  • Names of previous owners
  • Any work done to the car
  • Accidents the vehicle may have been in
  • The car’s service history
  • Outstanding liens
  • Recall notices
  • Odometer readings

No law mandates sellers to supply such documents to potential buyers. However, honest sellers readily provide them since they have nothing to hide.

You can also double-check the information by requesting a vehicle history report yourself. To do this, you need the car’s 17-digit VIN, which you must then give to a reliable report provider like Carfax or Autocheck. You may also have to pay around $10 to $40.

It’s also wise to visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau website. Its free VINCheck database can help you ensure the car you want to buy is not a salvage or stolen vehicle.

It’s also worth noting that reliable dealerships selling pre-owned cars automatically make these reports available. This is another good reason to partner with a local dealer if you’re looking for a cheap yet reliable car. 

Need More Help Finding Cheap Cars for Sale in Janesville, WI?

If so, our team of experts here at Boucher Mazda of Janesville will be more than happy to assist!

Our dealership has been in service for many decades now, helping buyers find reliable, cheap cars for sale in Janesville, WI. And we can do the same for you. If you need to, we can even help you secure financing for your next Mazda!

So, leave us a message or call us today. We’ll gladly address all your questions and schedule your test drive.

Posted in How To, Local