program cars
Saving Money

Can You Save Money with Program Cars?

With prices continuing to go up on new vehicles and even used models, you may be looking for a way to save money on your next ride. While you may be shopping for the best deal in cars, you might not have thought about program cars as a way to get a reliable vehicle with a lower price tag.

What is a Program Car?

The term “program car” is a general phrase designated for vehicles that aren’t technically brand new. Some of them have a few miles on them while others may have a few thousand miles on the odometer.

Here are some types of program cars that you may find:

  •       A dealer demo vehicle
  •       Dealer model used in test drives
  •       Rental vehicles
  •       Loaner vehicle when your vehicle is being repaired

A dealer demo model is similar to a vehicle used in test drives. They haven’t been registered or licensed, but the dealer has used them to run errands or for short journeys.

The Benefits of a Program Car

For the buyer, the primary benefit of buying a program car is the lower price. Even though the vehicle hasn’t been titled or registered, it still has some extra miles. The dealer must account for these miles when figuring the price. For example, if you put a brand-new model next to a program car with a few thousand miles, the program car will have a slightly lower list price than the new model that has been sitting on the lot.

For most program cars, another benefit is regular service. If you buy a program car, you can be confident that it received service as recommended by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual. With other used vehicles, you don’t always know if they have been cared for as they should.

When it comes to rental companies, sometimes they do a good job of maintaining them and other times, you may find the vehicles have been abused. It’s always a good idea to ask for maintenance and service records for a program car.

The Disadvantages with Program Cars

If you want that new-car smell and a model with barely any miles on the odometer, a program car may not be right for you. Technically, these are used vehicles that have been driven even if some of them haven’t been registered. There will be some wear and tear on the parts, and you’ll only be getting the remainder of the original manufacturer’s warranty. You won’t get to drive it as long before you’ll either need to have an extended warranty or take the risk of any repairs coming out of your pocket.

Another issue is that the label, program car, can be put on various vehicles. Models bought from an auction can be listed under this category. Many of these vehicles aren’t under any warranty, and you won’t know the history or who owned it.

The Bottom Line with Program Cars

Can program cars save you money? Most of the time. They typical retail at lower prices. However, not all of them are a good deal. You could end up inheriting someone else’s problems and not even know it. If you want to take advantage of the lower sticker price of a program car, make sure you know where it came from. And don’t forget its repair history as well. That way, you’re more likely to get a good deal on a reliable vehicle. 


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Joyce Morse Farinella
Hello! My name’s Joyce Morse Farinella and I’m a full-time writer who loves to research interesting and strange topics and explain them to others. I also enjoy hanging out with my daughter and being a foster parent. I love to travel and hang out at home, getting writing inspiration from both."

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