Author Topic: Good resource for buying used car ??  (Read 1061 times)

albireo13

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 473
  • Location: New England
Good resource for buying used car ??
« on: May 25, 2018, 02:37:20 PM »
It's been a long time since I shopped for a used car.
I need to help find a car for my 20yo son over the next 2weeks. 
Ive been checking local Craigslist and local used car dealers
but that's all hit or miss.  Not sure who is good or bad.

Are there some other online resources people like to use for car shopping?

Thx
Rob

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3885
  • Age: 28
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2018, 04:00:37 PM »
If you're looking for cheap (<$5k) cars, avoid any used car dealers.  They're predatory at worst, overpriced at best.

Craigslist is the way to go.  I actually just bought a car this week on Craigslist.  My method for Craigslist are basically this:

Figure out exactly what you want.  This doesn't mean necessarily something specific (I want a green 2006 Honda Civic with exactly 122,513 miles on it for $4200.15) but some general parameters.  Maximum miles, minimum year, max price, list of makes and/or models.  Make it all into once search, and save that link.  Here's mine I was using: https://chicago.craigslist.org/search/cto?query=corolla%7Cyaris%7Cprius%7C%22honda+fit%22%7Ccivic%7Cscion%7Caccent%7Cspectra%7Cforte%7Cmatrix%7Cvibe%7Csentra%7Chybrid%7Celantra&sort=date&min_price=500&max_price=3000&min_auto_year=2003&max_auto_miles=140000&auto_transmission=2

Check the link every day, ideally multiple times a day if you can.  You'll pretty quickly get a good idea of what's out there and what's a deal and what's not.

Ignore any listings that are sparse on details.  Ignore any listing with super crappy photos, or no photos, unless it otherwise has a good lengthy description.

When you find something good, call (not text, not email unless there's no number) as soon as humanly possible.  Ideally within a few hours of listing.  If you don't get an answer, leave a voicemail, and text or email immediately after as well.  When you call, be able to look at it that day (not necessarily that instant); otherwise don't bother.

Research the model.  Know what flaws they tend to have, big or small (not just big scary engine/transmission troubles but common places they rust, certain things that tend to break or leak, etc.).  Know what expensive maintenance might not have been done (timing belt, etc).

Bring the asking price in cash when you look at it.  Have a plan to drive away with it that day, even if it's a bit silly (I drove our other car there alone, drove the "new" car home, and then Uber'd back to grab our other car).

Slowly look over the car.  Make observations and ask questions, but don't hand-wave away issues or talk too much.  Let them talk about the problems.  Pop the hood and check the fluids, even if you're not a car person and don't know what you're looking for 100%.  If fluids look old or low, comment on that.

When you take it for a test drive, accelerate up to highway speeds.  Do this both slowly and quickly.  Note how smoothly (or not) the transmission shifts through each gear.  Test the brakes.  Brake HARD at least once.  Take your hands off the steering wheel (safely) while driving but also slowing down at least once, to note if it pulls to one side in either situation.  Note any excess vibration in any circumstances.  Mostly drive with the windows open, so you can hear any potential weirdness.  Then roll them up and blast the AC for the rest of the drive to make sure it won't quit on you (I got bit my this once and ended up with a bad AC compressor).  Test the radio.  Press all the buttons.  Test all the features.  If there's a sunroof, look for signs of leaks.

After the test drive, check all the headlights/turn signals/bulbs, etc.  If a bulb is out, check to make sure it's just a dead bulb and the socket isn't damaged (not always easy to eyeball but sometimes it sure is).

If the ad said "FIRM", then hand them the money and sign the title. 

If it said "OBO" or specifically said flexible, mention that (again, let them talk).  Say something like "The listing said $xxxx, right?" acting maybe a little unsure.  You can probably get at least a few hundred off here, especially if there are legitimate (minor) issues with the car, or it was slightly overpriced in the first place.

Drive the car home, don't turn your celebratory music on until you're halfway and have driven with the windows down as a bit of a sanity check.

Trying2bFrugal

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 134
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2018, 05:14:25 AM »
If you're looking for cheap (<$5k) cars, avoid any used car dealers.  They're predatory at worst, overpriced at best.



On used cars, How long the hondas last? Can I get 2006 or 2007 models with 130k miles on them and keep them 15k per year for next couple years?

Should i buy a precertified vehicle?
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 12:29:50 AM by Trying2bFrugal »

Trifele

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2268
  • Location: US
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 05:37:51 AM »
It's been a long time since I shopped for a used car.
I need to help find a car for my 20yo son over the next 2weeks. 
Ive been checking local Craigslist and local used car dealers
but that's all hit or miss.  Not sure who is good or bad.

Are there some other online resources people like to use for car shopping?

Thx
Rob

For basic research while you are figuring out what you want I use ConsumerReports and Edmunds as resources.

I've bought and sold cars on Craigslist and agree that is usually the best way to go, especially for a cheap car.  Great post by Ketchup on how to go about that.  I've also surfed Autotrader.com a lot.  That can be useful for finding a 'unicorn'/specific vehicle (you can widen the search parameters to a huge geographical area).  I found my last car (a fairly low-miles, not-cheap vehicle at a small local dealer) on Autotrader. 


a1pharm

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 03:53:22 PM »
Use these 3 websites:

cargurus.com
autotrader.com
cars.com

albireo13

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 473
  • Location: New England
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 04:18:09 PM »
ketchup.
  Thanks for the reply.  I think I may stick with Craigslist. 


Rob

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1649
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2018, 08:43:02 PM »
If you're looking for cheap (<$5k) cars, avoid any used car dealers.  They're predatory at worst, overpriced at best.

Craigslist is the way to go.  I actually just bought a car this week on Craigslist.  My method for Craigslist are basically this:

Figure out exactly what you want.  This doesn't mean necessarily something specific (I want a green 2006 Honda Civic with exactly 122,513 miles on it for $4200.15) but some general parameters.  Maximum miles, minimum year, max price, list of makes and/or models.  Make it all into once search, and save that link.  Here's mine I was using: https://chicago.craigslist.org/search/cto?query=corolla%7Cyaris%7Cprius%7C%22honda+fit%22%7Ccivic%7Cscion%7Caccent%7Cspectra%7Cforte%7Cmatrix%7Cvibe%7Csentra%7Chybrid%7Celantra&sort=date&min_price=500&max_price=3000&min_auto_year=2003&max_auto_miles=140000&auto_transmission=2

Check the link every day, ideally multiple times a day if you can.  You'll pretty quickly get a good idea of what's out there and what's a deal and what's not.

Ignore any listings that are sparse on details.  Ignore any listing with super crappy photos, or no photos, unless it otherwise has a good lengthy description.

When you find something good, call (not text, not email unless there's no number) as soon as humanly possible.  Ideally within a few hours of listing.  If you don't get an answer, leave a voicemail, and text or email immediately after as well.  When you call, be able to look at it that day (not necessarily that instant); otherwise don't bother.

Research the model.  Know what flaws they tend to have, big or small (not just big scary engine/transmission troubles but common places they rust, certain things that tend to break or leak, etc.).  Know what expensive maintenance might not have been done (timing belt, etc).

Bring the asking price in cash when you look at it.  Have a plan to drive away with it that day, even if it's a bit silly (I drove our other car there alone, drove the "new" car home, and then Uber'd back to grab our other car).

Slowly look over the car.  Make observations and ask questions, but don't hand-wave away issues or talk too much.  Let them talk about the problems.  Pop the hood and check the fluids, even if you're not a car person and don't know what you're looking for 100%.  If fluids look old or low, comment on that.

When you take it for a test drive, accelerate up to highway speeds.  Do this both slowly and quickly.  Note how smoothly (or not) the transmission shifts through each gear.  Test the brakes.  Brake HARD at least once.  Take your hands off the steering wheel (safely) while driving but also slowing down at least once, to note if it pulls to one side in either situation.  Note any excess vibration in any circumstances.  Mostly drive with the windows open, so you can hear any potential weirdness.  Then roll them up and blast the AC for the rest of the drive to make sure it won't quit on you (I got bit my this once and ended up with a bad AC compressor).  Test the radio.  Press all the buttons.  Test all the features.  If there's a sunroof, look for signs of leaks.

After the test drive, check all the headlights/turn signals/bulbs, etc.  If a bulb is out, check to make sure it's just a dead bulb and the socket isn't damaged (not always easy to eyeball but sometimes it sure is).

If the ad said "FIRM", then hand them the money and sign the title. 

If it said "OBO" or specifically said flexible, mention that (again, let them talk).  Say something like "The listing said $xxxx, right?" acting maybe a little unsure.  You can probably get at least a few hundred off here, especially if there are legitimate (minor) issues with the car, or it was slightly overpriced in the first place.

Drive the car home, don't turn your celebratory music on until you're halfway and have driven with the windows down as a bit of a sanity check.

What about having a mechanic check it?

RWD

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3253
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2018, 08:45:57 PM »
Copy/paste from my post in another thread:


Research
Fuel economy: https://fueleconomy.gov/
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
Reliability: http://www.dashboard-light.com/

Shopping
Craigslist
AutoTempest
Autotrader

Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection
Read and understand all paperwork (dealer purchase)
General, misc.

Purchase
Read up on your state's policies for transferring a car title and registration
Inspect the title (no brands, in the name of the person selling the car, etc.)
Get pre-approved for financing ahead of time, if applicable (credit unions tend to be the best). You can get some really low rates, even on used cars (I got 1.69% recently).

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3885
  • Age: 28
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 09:26:36 PM »
If you're looking for cheap (<$5k) cars, avoid any used car dealers.  They're predatory at worst, overpriced at best.

Craigslist is the way to go.  I actually just bought a car this week on Craigslist.  My method for Craigslist are basically this:

Figure out exactly what you want.  This doesn't mean necessarily something specific (I want a green 2006 Honda Civic with exactly 122,513 miles on it for $4200.15) but some general parameters.  Maximum miles, minimum year, max price, list of makes and/or models.  Make it all into once search, and save that link.  Here's mine I was using: https://chicago.craigslist.org/search/cto?query=corolla%7Cyaris%7Cprius%7C%22honda+fit%22%7Ccivic%7Cscion%7Caccent%7Cspectra%7Cforte%7Cmatrix%7Cvibe%7Csentra%7Chybrid%7Celantra&sort=date&min_price=500&max_price=3000&min_auto_year=2003&max_auto_miles=140000&auto_transmission=2

Check the link every day, ideally multiple times a day if you can.  You'll pretty quickly get a good idea of what's out there and what's a deal and what's not.

Ignore any listings that are sparse on details.  Ignore any listing with super crappy photos, or no photos, unless it otherwise has a good lengthy description.

When you find something good, call (not text, not email unless there's no number) as soon as humanly possible.  Ideally within a few hours of listing.  If you don't get an answer, leave a voicemail, and text or email immediately after as well.  When you call, be able to look at it that day (not necessarily that instant); otherwise don't bother.

Research the model.  Know what flaws they tend to have, big or small (not just big scary engine/transmission troubles but common places they rust, certain things that tend to break or leak, etc.).  Know what expensive maintenance might not have been done (timing belt, etc).

Bring the asking price in cash when you look at it.  Have a plan to drive away with it that day, even if it's a bit silly (I drove our other car there alone, drove the "new" car home, and then Uber'd back to grab our other car).

Slowly look over the car.  Make observations and ask questions, but don't hand-wave away issues or talk too much.  Let them talk about the problems.  Pop the hood and check the fluids, even if you're not a car person and don't know what you're looking for 100%.  If fluids look old or low, comment on that.

When you take it for a test drive, accelerate up to highway speeds.  Do this both slowly and quickly.  Note how smoothly (or not) the transmission shifts through each gear.  Test the brakes.  Brake HARD at least once.  Take your hands off the steering wheel (safely) while driving but also slowing down at least once, to note if it pulls to one side in either situation.  Note any excess vibration in any circumstances.  Mostly drive with the windows open, so you can hear any potential weirdness.  Then roll them up and blast the AC for the rest of the drive to make sure it won't quit on you (I got bit my this once and ended up with a bad AC compressor).  Test the radio.  Press all the buttons.  Test all the features.  If there's a sunroof, look for signs of leaks.

After the test drive, check all the headlights/turn signals/bulbs, etc.  If a bulb is out, check to make sure it's just a dead bulb and the socket isn't damaged (not always easy to eyeball but sometimes it sure is).

If the ad said "FIRM", then hand them the money and sign the title. 

If it said "OBO" or specifically said flexible, mention that (again, let them talk).  Say something like "The listing said $xxxx, right?" acting maybe a little unsure.  You can probably get at least a few hundred off here, especially if there are legitimate (minor) issues with the car, or it was slightly overpriced in the first place.

Drive the car home, don't turn your celebratory music on until you're halfway and have driven with the windows down as a bit of a sanity check.

What about having a mechanic check it?
You could do that too.  Most people selling cars cheap want them gone yesterday, and there's always someone behind you willing to drive it away 10 minutes after looking at it.  If you do go that route though, I would recommend a mobile mechanic that you have visit the owner the day after you look at it first.  You want to make it easy, and make it clear that you're not a tire-kicker and are willing to pull the trigger once the mechanic gives the OK.  My dad did that with his last car purchase and it went fairly smoothly.

If you know a mechanic personally, that's even better.

iwanttobelive2

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Good resource for buying used car ??
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2018, 11:38:59 AM »
I've seen some cheap $6K cars from Carmax. Like a Hyundai 2 door coupe with a manual or a Ford Focus. That might be something to consider, the cars will get good MPG and carmax does go over the cars. I have had a good experience with that company in the past. They don't bargain and they don't have the best deal as far as what you could get at a private party but I trust them enough that I'd consider doing business with the again if I was in the market for a cheap car.

Craigslist might be something else to consider. As other have said if you can take the car to a trusted mechanic to look it over that is a good idea. Auto trader sometimes has good deals if you're wiling go out of state.  I've found most compact 4 door Japanese/Korean cars to be pretty bullet proof, especially in the basic trims with roll up windows and no fancy extras.