how to buy a used car

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by boatnut, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. ok, i know this is silly, but i'm looking for an inexpensive car for the kids to drive. They will be getting licenses soon (twins). I have no clue as to how to judge a cars condition other then test driving it. Should i use that "carfax" service? What does that do exactly? Any hints?? Check "bluebook"? how much markup does a used car dealer typically have on a 4,000 dollar car? Am I better off buying from private owner?


    alot of times a dealer will have a warranty on a vehicle depending on the price and where a individual person u wont be getting any warranty. the carfax thing will show some things but not all things. if it was wrecked and insurance paid for it then it should show up on a carfax but if it was paid for out of their own pocket then it wont show up on carfax. i would defineatly check blue book value , loan value and retail value. and see if there was any kind of maintenance record.

  3. Carfax is bunk IMO if you know anything about inspecting automobiles. I just bought a Blazer last Friday and had been looking for several weeks. The wifey found a nice looking Bravada down in Cinci - she stopped and got the VIN, etc. She ran a $40 carfax report (before even asking me) that showed up clean as a whistle.
    I drove down that sat morning and drove/inspected - it was wrecked badly at some point! Definately rear-ended hard. I could see a few very slight dimples in the rear hatch when in bright sunlight. When I crawled underneath the transmission support that is connected to each side of the frame went in 3 directions and was rusted through on passenger side from a "garbage" repair job. I took my finger and pushed completely through it!!!

    When you cut the wheel and turned sharply you could feel the frame wobble.
    Wasted day:(

    Run NADA and Kelley's blue book; inspect the car heavily (wear old clothes & get underneath, etc.) Run it at highway speed (and beyond) for several minutes to check for any alignment problems, shaking, etc.

    If they will let you and you are serious about the car - take to your mechanic and pay him the $100 to hook it up to the computer and inspect the car (worth every penny). When I sell used cars I pay the $100 and show the report to interested parties. Ask for any records (cars with 100k+ are typically due for timing belts, etc. and that gets expensive).

    Good luck in your search!
  4. some of the cars on the used car dealers lot had like a 4000 mile/3 month warranty but it was thru one of those hokey warranty companies like "guardian warranty" etc. The prob with one of those warranties for me is...the kids will mainly just be "practice driving" for the next 3 months and car wont see a lot of use until spring probably, which kinda makes the "so called" warranty useless.

    thanks for all the other tips though!
  5. Found this post on a blog called the consumerist:

    tell them that you will not talk price until YOUR mechanic looks over the vehicle and gives you a report on it. Watch how much the squirm. I also learned the basics of car inspection, and perform my own pre-inspections right there on the lot -- 90% of used cars have a defect so serious they don't pass 5 minutes of my inspection! The best one (if any) goes to the mechanic.

    Have the mechanic lined up for the time you will be needing the car checked out. I prefer to have my mechanic pick up the car from the dealer directly. The mechanic should be one you have had good experiences with previously. NEVER use a mechanic who is near the dealership. I tell my mechanic "check this car like you would if your 16 year old daughter was going to have to drive it to Alaska and back -- alone."

    Go back to the dealer with a list of all defects and an estimate to fix them. Negotiate a price adjustment. In some cases, you may agree to let the dealer do the repairs, BUT specifically put in writing that these repairs will be accepted only after a re-inspection by your mechanic and no crappy used or after-market parts will be used.

    Figure on devoting at least a month and looking at 200+ cars to find a good used car.
  6. KBB and NADA are good starting points, and always start at the lower price dont ever give them what there wanting, i always check the tires, the tires can tell alot about how the vehicle was driven cause normally used car lots dont change or put new tires on, look for wear patterns for alignment issues like previously stated u should be able to tell right away without even driving the vehicle if its outta alignment, check engine area for any fluids on in our around the engine compartment, check the battery date, check the oil, check the dexcool/antifreeze, if it has a trans dipstick check that, if the oil or trans is milky or smells toasted steer clear, turn the key check for warning chimes and codes, check the body over make sure lights and electronics work properly and i agree with the comments u found on the blog Onion. another options is Certified Used Cars they do have specific inspections that dealers do on these vehicles and normally u could say there new/used vehicles that people put low miles on normally, and if its Certified u can hold them to pretty much anything like a new vehicle cause they was supposed to CERTIFY IT.

    as far as pricing goes, i normally take 20-25% off the price there asking and start there.
  7. willy

    willy no boat

    and I agree with most of the comments made, but their is no substitue for experience. By that i mean you can get some good deals from private owners but you really have to know what your doing and looking at. My best suggestion for you would be to get yourself a mechanic if you dont know one and I would suggest you do that before you even start looking. Maybe explain your situation and agree to a finders fee for them for their time. Remember they are working peeps too and i've never met one that doesnt do side jobs for some extra cash, so if you explain your budget up front and what your looking for and give them some time you may be suprised with what they can do for you. the alternative is to go to a reputable dealer that does certified cars, but you will pay for that too. It's all a trade off in the end. I know of peeps that have done carfax and I wouldnt waste your money on it, any real mechanic worth his salt wouldnt bother with any report. they also can tell you the good deals - as in yeah it need a new set of tires and brakes but its solid and I can get them down on the price because of thoses issues. good luck to you, and dont let them two kiddies talk you into lambo kit car on the fiero frame lol ...
  8. Find a good used HONDA . Try not to buy a used american car . I know this sounds unamerican or something but they dont last like the honda's.