Used car buyers have historically been faced with a lot of both hazard and opportunity.
The hazard comes into the equation because used cars come with a history and you don’t want to be buying someone else’s headache.
But the opportunity comes because buying used can save you thousands of dollars over buying new.
In fact, the difference between buying new and buying used is so extreme that it’s a key tenet of money expert Clark Howard’s keys to building long-term wealth.
He’s long talked about buying a two or three-year-old used car and holding it for a minimum of three to four years — the longer, the better — as a smart money move.
Now, Walmart wants to help take some of the hazard out of buying a used car…
CarSaver: Walmart’s foray into the used-car market
Last year, Walmart announced it was teaming up with online car-seller CarSaver for a pilot program at 14 Walmart Supercenters in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Oklahoma City.
The “CarSaver at Walmart” program offered used cars at fixed prices with no games and no gimmicks. It was such a success that it’s now being expanded to 250 Walmart stores across the country.
CarSaver simplifies the used-car buying process by letting you shop one of three ways: via a dedicated website, through an app on your smartphone (Android and iOS) or through in-store kiosks at Walmarts.
Rather than competing with local dealerships, Walmart and CarSaver are working together with them, so you take delivery of your vehicle at a dealer’s used car lot.
But CarSaver offers something most dealers don’t on their used car stock: A comprehensive unlimited mileage lifetime warranty.
The lifetime warranty covers your engine, transmission, and drivetrain for as long as you own the vehicle — all at no cost to you.
You may be noticing that giant asterisk on the image above and wondering what the gotcha is.
The only disclaimer here is that you must perform all schedule maintenance on the vehicle in a timely manner and document it. If you fail to do that, you void the warranty. You can check out the full lifetime warranty FAQs here.
CarSaver says the average customer saves more than $3,500 off MSRP by using their service, not to mention saving $3,900 on repairs covered by the lifetime warranty.
Listen to Clark discuss CarSaver on The Clark Howard Show podcast
What Walmart and CarSaver are doing is just the latest in a string of business models that have tried to shake up a tradition-bound industry.
For example, Carmax was one of the first to come out with a “the price is the price” promise so that you wouldn’t have to deal with any games or gimmicks when you set foot in their dealership. They also offer a five-day right of return on all car purchases — no questions asked.
In more recent years, services like Carvana have stretched that return policy out to seven days and will even deliver your vehicle right to your door.
Having a return period of several days allows you to get a potential used vehicle you’re thinking about buying inspected by a diagnostic mechanic of your choice.
That’s perhaps the most important of all Clark’s key rules of used car buying!