Author Topic: Buying a used car off of Craigslist  (Read 7916 times)

clarkfan1979

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Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« on: July 13, 2014, 03:40:40 PM »
I've been searching for a used car and my wife is really concerned about getting a lemon. She only wants to buy a used car if the owner can prove that they are the only owner so she can ask them any question about the car.

While I understand her concern when you are looking at cars that are 10 years old and have 100,000 miles the odds of finding a single owner selling an original car is very low. It seems like most of the vehicles in this range are sold by car flippers. They buy old cars on the cheap, fix them up and then try to sell them for a profit.

From my perspective, it seems like you could make an argument that buying from a car flipper would be better because they can do a better job of getting the car in shape before selling in comparison to someone that doesn't know anything about cars. Am I wrong?

The good news is that I found a single owner car that has documentation. They are an older couple selling their 2003 Pontiac Vibe with 165,000 miles for $2500. The blue book price seems to be $2700 so I am hoping that this is the one. I am more excited than her because she says that is has too many miles. While I agree that 165,000 is a lot, these cars are supposed to go 200,000 to 250,000. Right? We will drive it about 12,000 miles a year (if we buy it). If she denies the purchase I am going to need some serious help and therapy. Does anyone have any general advice or advice specifically about the Pontiac Vibe that we are going to look at in 10 days? Thanks.


boarder42

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 04:01:55 PM »
You can buy a lemon brand new from a dealer. Lemons are lemons but the best way to have piece of mind isn't one owner its getting it checked by a trusted mechanic or if you don't have one you trust have 2 check it out.

MikeBear

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 04:22:05 PM »
If you go to look at that Vibe, make DEAD SURE it does NOT have the 1ZZFE 1.8l engine in it! Google that.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=1zzfe+oil+consumption

That engine is prone to develop massive oil burning issues, and you do not want it!

I owned a 1998 Chevy Prizm (Toyota Corolla) with that engine, that I bought in 2001 from the original owner. It was always used with Mobil-1 synthetic oil, and still developed the oil problem after I owned it a couple years. It burned through a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Toyota says " That's NORMAL"! They covered up all the issues, and refused to replace the engines.

It finally got to the point of 1 quart every 300 miles and I dumped the car.

I wouldn't buy a Vibe unless it was at least a 2005, and if you get one of those, make SURE the computer has been replaced under the recall for that.

I'll never buy another Toyota as long as I live. If you do any research, you will discover many hidden issues that they cover up and hide on all their various models.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 04:30:07 PM by MikeBear »

okashira

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 04:29:24 PM »
You can buy a lemon brand new from a dealer. Lemons are lemons but the best way to have piece of mind isn't one owner its getting it checked by a trusted mechanic or if you don't have one you trust have 2 check it out.

I'd be a lot more stressed out by a $20,000 lemon then a $5,000 lemon.
Your wife's request is reasonable if she is able to put in the effort to locate that car.

I suggest enthusiast forums? We bought an 2004 Acura RSX for $6500 and the car was babied, garaged by the original owner. Found it on local import forum.
Had to swap a couple things to make it stock, but it was worth it.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 09:13:20 AM »
Is there anything else to consider besides the cost of the oil? I asked the seller about the oil issue and he said that he has to add one quart of oil every 2 weeks. I had to do something similar with my Hyundai Accent when it went over 150,000 miles. I know that this is a lot of oil for cars but if I do the math that would be $75/year in oil. If everything else with the car is fine, that seems to be a small price.

MikeBear

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 01:20:48 PM »
Is there anything else to consider besides the cost of the oil? I asked the seller about the oil issue and he said that he has to add one quart of oil every 2 weeks. I had to do something similar with my Hyundai Accent when it went over 150,000 miles. I know that this is a lot of oil for cars but if I do the math that would be $75/year in oil. If everything else with the car is fine, that seems to be a small price.

If he already has to add a quart of oil every two weeks, you do NOT want to buy that car! It can get much worse very fast, just like flipping a switch. Of course if the engine runs dry and you drive it, the engine will fry.

However, IF you can buy the car for a couple $100 dollars, and can yourself or know a friend that can tear the engine down, you need to replace the pistons with the upgraded ones and with new oil rings. A mechanic can do it for less than $400 in parts, but if you take it somewhere commercial, they'll charge at least $1,500. It's a lot of work (dual overhead cam engine), and not worth it if you aren't a mechanic yourself, or have a friend that is and will do it cheap. Here's the fix:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A595LR4SQpI
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 01:23:44 PM by MikeBear »

Meinurgill

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2014, 01:29:06 PM »
My DH and I have been wondering about this too. We have talked about traveling out of state to get a great deal, but I worry about buying a car that I can't have my mechanic check out. Makes me super nervous. Neither of us is equipped to inspect it ourselves in any meaningful way--we are totally not car people. I'm thinking if they can provide service records I'll feel better, but you're right, on a car that old it will be extremely difficult to find that.

Cwadda

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2014, 01:56:59 PM »
About a month ago I bought a used car off Craigslist. I did spend 6 weeks looking for the right one though. It was listed for $8000 and he took $1200 off right away for the necessary repairs. I also negotiated an extra $150 off for cosmetic damage.

I wouldn't say only look for an original owner per se.
1. Look for someone who has taken care of it (service records, regular oil changes, how often was it serviced)
2. Never purchase a car with a salvaged or rebuilt title.
3. Find out whether the car has been in any accidents and if there has been any body work done
4. Consider having a trustworthy mechanic come and look at the car with you.
5. Get a car that's known for its reliability. This is pretty much a given - you're a mustachian, after all.

JPier

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2014, 02:39:58 PM »
After 2 months of craigslist search ,i went to a dealer and bought a preowned suv(wife) hyundai tucson,
I know is anti- mustachian,lol
I got it with 0 down and 2.9% interest rate.
Yes its financed,lol ...i took money from credit union instead of paying cash

Very low millage and all the extras wife wanted :)
 
We wanted a 6-7k car from craigslist, found out too much scammers,shady cars...rebuild titles,engine or trans problems fixed cheaply...odometer missmatch (2. Times) 
Too many cosmetic issues,and wife wasn't happy ,so i bite the bullet and went to a dealer
$500 fee
Bought certified preowned ,with warranty and service history.
We got 1 year complementary service .
 
We stepped down from a v8 to a 4 cil
Im still driving my 4 cil econobox
Btw Toyota oil issue is nasty ,I sold my 2002 corolla with 129k consuming 2 quarts between oil changes,last time it was almost dry and decided it was enough.
Not a good thing for a woman that has little to no mechanical skill or interest.
And plastic trim inside was falling of including door handles ,inside and out.

I really don't like wife and kids driving an old unreliable car
I hate spending weekends fixing car or paying to fix it.
I hate the drama when wife car breaks down in traffic
I hate wife complaining about old squeaky,ugly car,lol
Happy wife ,happy life ...kind of



MillenialMustache

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2014, 02:55:17 PM »
My suggestion with Craigslist is to check it as often as possible for that good deal. I sold a 1997 Ford Taurus in 2007 on there with 150,000 miles, second owner, but we had all service records for ourselves and the original owner. Sold it for $1600 to someone who e-mailed us within the first hour of it posted. My sister just bought a Nissan Altima with 116,000 miles from the original owner for $4,900 - she e-mailed him within 20 minutes of it being posted. Within two hours, he had five people on a waiting list (she knows because the 5th person ended up being a friend of hers). They are out there - you just have to look. Also, try to find a mechanic you trust to look at it. Many sellers will let you drive it to a close mechanic.

Cwadda

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 05:02:01 AM »
Buying a used car is a royal pain in the rear. Yes there is a chance you'll end up with a lemon, but if you take the right steps, that chance can be dramatically reduced and/or your risk can be hedged.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2014, 06:15:54 AM »
Thank you for all the advice. The car is primarily for me. My commute is 4.5 miles each way and I have been riding my bike for the past 5 months. The only negative about not having a car is that I can't go fishing or golfing nearing as much as I would like to. I can get to work and back which is the main thing. I have been rained on a couple times, but that is fine.

My wife has a reliable 2007 Honda CRV with 117,000 miles. She bought it new. Her commute is 28 miles each way. If the Pontiac Vibe is up to her standards she would like to drive the car to work on occasion so she doesn't put so many miles on her car and I will ride my bike or drive her car to work. If this sounds weird, I agree. I'm just trying to make my wife happy.

I have 34K of student loans at 6.8% and 16K at 2.4%. If the Vibe can last me 3 years that should give me enough time to pay off my 34K of student loans at 6.8% and at that point I would feel more comfortable buying a new car.



MikeBear

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2014, 02:02:27 PM »
If you are just dead-set in buying THIS Vibe even though you know it already has the oil burning issue, at least try to get them to lower their price to 1/2 what it is now. Print out some of the pages explaining the oil burning issue with these engines, and take them with you. Let them read those, and then tell them you only feel comfortable in paying $1,200 as you'll have to get it repaired and that cost $1,500.

That doesn't mean you really have to get it repaired, but if you DO, you'll then have room to do so at a purchase price of $1,200.

http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/131-8th-generation-1998-2002/402362-diy-oil-consumption-fix.html

Good luck.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2014, 02:20:22 PM »
Thank you for all the advice. I feel very prepared for this experience. I'm not dead set on buying the Vibe. I still have to test drive it tomorrow and also take it to a mechanic. However, I am dead set on looking at it and giving it a test drive. My last car burned oil and I didn't have a problem. That is not a deal breaker for me.

They are asking $2500 and blue book is $2700. Most people ask quite a bit over blue book for these cars stating that they have a Toyota Engine. Below is an ad for the same car with 208K miles and they are asking 4,000 which is more normal.

http://tampa.craigslist.org/hdo/cto/4545552543.html

MikeBear

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2014, 02:33:41 PM »
Asking for a price reduction can't hurt. You can after all always pay the asking price. But maybe you'll save $1,000 or so.

Blue Book prices and what people ask mean nothing. The price they'll take is all that's important, and you now have ammunition to ask for more of a reduction. Lay out $1,500 in $100 dollar bills on the table, and tell them that's what you want to pay. It's never failed for me. Once they SEE that money sitting there, they don't want it walking out the door.

Part of being a Mustachian is trying to limit your costs of things you really need, which means you should always try to negotiate (unless the price is stupid cheap already).


irishQ

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2014, 06:53:33 PM »
really, a pontiac!

come on man never mind they are no longer around, dont you know about "your keys are too heavy and may turn the car off and loose all control".

find an old toyota or honda

okashira

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2014, 07:21:10 PM »
really, a pontiac!

come on man never mind they are no longer around, dont you know about "your keys are too heavy and may turn the car off and loose all control".

find an old toyota or honda

Isn't it a Toyota?

Goldielocks

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2014, 07:41:40 PM »
Don't worry overmuch about lemons. but check the CARFAX.  No vehicles pulled out of hurricane katrina, then sold up north for you!


Have mechanic (not dealership) check it over before purchase, and offer a price with repair costs in mind.  Rust underneath can be a problem, so look for that too.

2 owners is ok for this age of vehicle.     

Look for a great body, which are harder to find as you get older vehicles.   Great condition does not cost a lot more vs average condition.

.Some mileage is OK especially if mechanic is OK with it and you will not be driving a lot yourself.

MikeBear

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2014, 08:39:45 PM »
really, a pontiac!

come on man never mind they are no longer around, dont you know about "your keys are too heavy and may turn the car off and loose all control".

find an old toyota or honda

Isn't it a Toyota?

The majority of the parts is in fact a Toyota. The real Toyota version is called the Matrix, but the Pontiac version actually looks better if you ask me. It's basically a Corolla station wagon. They are good cars, and get good mileage, you just have to be careful which model you get due to the oil burning issue in that 8th generation model year. Then the 2005 models had bum computers that were replaced under a recall, etc.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 08:41:21 PM by MikeBear »

Joel

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2014, 10:55:21 PM »
I was looking for a Honda civic coupe with an automatic, a clean title, and approximately 5-6 years old. It took me almost six months to finally find what I was looking for on craigslist. I finally found it. It just took patience.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Buying a used car off of Craigslist
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2014, 05:53:15 AM »
Thank you for the word of patience. I have been casually looking for about 4 months. I have only been looking aggressively for the past month since I have the money to pull the trigger. It's great that I can ride my bike to work and take my time in looking for a car. It would really suck if I had a long commute and had to buy whatever was available at the time.