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Used cars

  1. Dec 24, 2003 #1
    Anyone here buy a used cars before? If so what was your experience like and can you give us some tips.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2003 #2
    My 2 cents...

    (only applies to the US as far as I know)
    Any used car salesman that can be trusted at all will allow you to bring the car to a mechanic to have it checked out before you sign anything.

    Your average mechanic will do a thorough inspection for somewhere between $100 and $250.
    I highly recommend making this very sound investment.
    Even if you are a "car guy" and know a lot about mechanics, it is invaluable to get a car up on a lift, check all the seals, check engine compression, look at the "usual" corrosion spots etc.
    Things you can't find out by kicking the tires and running your finger inside the tailpipe.

    Also, many cars have certain problems that occur to them fairly dependably.
    Look those things up...
    For example, any Honda Civic with over 90,000 miles should have had the timing belt changed (whether it has problems or not) because it will likely go soon, and the cost of repair, if it DOES blow on you, could be several thousand dollars.
    Honda Del Sols all have this fuel injection module that usually burns out between 100,000 and 150,000 miles, so if the car has 100,000 miles or more, make sure that part has been replaced recently.
    1986 Mustang GTs had a problem with their catalytic converters breaking up somewhere around 80 - 90 thousand miles, and if you don't have it replaced before they break up, you could end up having to replace both mufflers too.
    Whatever car you are looking at, do your research, and ask the seller for reciepts for these repairs, or ask the mechanic that is doing the inspection for you to verify the issues do not exist, and if they do, get a written estimate for replacing the parts.
    Use that written estimate to haggle the price of the car (if you are still willing to buy the car and do the repairs).
    If you plan on using the repair estimate, it might be a good idea to bring printed articles that tell about these faliures as well.

    If you ARE getting it from a used car lot (rather than an individual) some of them will allow you to rent the car for a week or two to really try it before you buy it (and if you DO buy, will take the rental fees paid off the price). If they will let you, try the shoes on and walk around in them for a while.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2003
  4. Dec 24, 2003 #3

    Supposedly has any repairs or damagages in there. I just saw the commercial, but I'm assuming they go off DMV reports.
  5. Dec 24, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    In addition to the great comments made by one_raven, I suggest that you look at many used car lots and see what make and models are most commonly found. This can tell you which cars nobody wants because they're lemons. If you see lots on one model, stay away from that model.

    Expect that dealers typically seek profit as follows:

    Sales price......Profit
    < $1500.......~ 80%- 100%
    $1500 - 2999.....~ 50%
    $3000-4000.......~ 30%
    $4000 +.......~ 20% - 30%

    This scale helps to determine what the dealer really has into the car. Ususally, unless the dealer is selling cars like hotcakes, he will likely live with $1500 profit on most any sale.

    Never fall for the "this price is only good today" line.

    Never buy on your first visit.

    Never pay the sticker price; NEVER!

    Never trust a car salesman. There are a few nice ones, but forget it!

    Trade-ins are a suckers game. Know the real bluebook values on any car to be traded or purchased.

    Get a price before telling the saleman that you have a trade in.

    When you buy a used car, you stand a very good chance that you are buying someone elses problems.

    Private owners usually believe their car is worth more than in fact.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2003
  6. Dec 24, 2003 #5
    Do you have a particular model in mind? If so - what is it and what is your price range? Those two choices will determine how much poking and prodding you will need to do to make sure you are not buying a problem.
  7. Dec 24, 2003 #6


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    if you are financing it, get a warranty for the car...
  8. Dec 24, 2003 #7


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    Great advice, luckily my dad is a car mechanic so I should be able to get a good second hand car :)

    .. but for knowledge: is there any particular place I could go and find out the car model problem information you gave, one_raven?
  9. Dec 24, 2003 #8
    I’ve probably bought over 35 cars in my lifetime, new and used. In the 80’s, I had three kids in college for about 8 years, as each was about two years apart. Keeping them in running vehicles was expensive. I’ve never had less than 2 cars for the wife and me not including my 8 company cars. I think it can be summed up as:

    Low mileage – good results.
    High mileage – poor results.
  10. Dec 24, 2003 #9
    never ever buy from a dealer

    hunt for the fool selling the car you want
    who needs to sell quickly
    and has no idea of its true value

    as PT Barnum said there is a sucker born every min !!!
    so buy from them
    not the dealers

    buy a good car, one thats built to last, like a volvo bmw or MB
    do your home work
    learn what years and models are better than others and why,
    the net is great for this
    most cars have a BB run by owners
    read them to learn about the good and bad years and models

    check the BLACK BOOK values for prices
    do not pay more than LOAN value
    not retail

    check out the car at a shop
    reject any car that needs work
    it is cheaper to pay a little more to get a good car then fix a bad one
    be ready to look at and check out 10 or more cars to find a good one
    be willing to travel to look at cars out of your city
  11. Dec 25, 2003 #10
    I've been driving a used car for 3 years now, with little problem besides routine repairs...the secret is buy old people's cars. My mom works at a nursing home, and those old folks' last car before going into the home usually has really low milage and little wear and tear.
  12. Dec 25, 2003 #11


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    A friend of mine bought a second hand Japanese car (because those are reliable) well, it was nothing but trouble, one repair after the other, strange sounds etc.

    Finally he sold it for the symbolic amount of $1, just to get rid of it..
  13. Dec 25, 2003 #12


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    I have owned nothing but used cars since about 1980. We have had pretty good luck so far. Currently have a '94 Ford Probe, has ~78Kmiles and is doing great. We have had Our '98 Grand Prix for 3.5 yrs it now has ~120Kmi (most of those are ours!) and is going strong, the wife likes it alot so we will keep driving it.

    I think low milage is a key, we have not had any inspections done, so have been pretty lucky, no total lemons so far. The '92 Saturn we drove for a while was a good car, but seemed to be a fender bender magnet (3 in the 1.5yr we had it) and was way under powered so we traded it for the Gran Prix. Good trade!
  14. Dec 27, 2003 #13
    I have and some experiences were good, some horrible. I have found that buying from an individual can be just as much a gamble as buying from a dealer with no warranty. You have to be able to examine a vehicle on your own and have a reasonably good feel for auto mechanics so as not to wind up with a lemon.
  15. Dec 27, 2003 #14


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    i think low mileage is definitely a plus...i bought my 96 VW when it was 5 years old with 36K...in nearly 3 years i have put on over 60K miles on it, and so far (knock on wood) it has been an excellent car...the best thing to do is to stay on top of maintenance before the car has major problems...
  16. Dec 27, 2003 #15
    Always take somebody with you, and tell them to be really objective and point out the tiniest little faults, eg, scratches, dents abit of rust whatever. But if you want the car you may overlook little things liek that.

    My cars a used car, but it was very cheap and i knew i was gonna get a heap for the price i paid for it, but touch-wood i havent had any problems yet, just a bit of rust on some of the body panels.
  17. Jan 4, 2004 #16


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    well, i followed my own advice on buying used cars and got me a good one yesterday! low mileage and extra warranty on my "new" 2000 VW Golf in midnight blue...only has 21K miles on it and going on 4 years old! after reading this thread, i began looking at getting a better car and found it :)
  18. Jan 4, 2004 #17


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    Lots of good advice here. I'm actually in the same spot as Geniere described having been in.
    So just a few points.
    1. If you do buy from a used care dealer realize that they have probably purchased the vehicle from auction which can mean a few things. a) It may have been insurance totaled and then repaired by the dealer. b) It may have had problems that the new dealerships decided were to great for them to take a risk on or invest in repairing. Keeping this in mind I would always use one of those dmv checks to check the history of the vehicle and/or get a full mechanic check. Although I've never paid the $100+ that was mentioned above. It's usually been around 35 or 40 but that may be a regional difference. As my mechanic here charges $25 an hour and I know in Mass it's double to triple that.
    2. Don't buy a ford taurus or mercury sable :wink:
    3. We've had great luck with our used Saabs and Toyota Camry. In fact Our present saab 900 has almost 350K miles, looks and still drives beautifully. we junked the toyota at 321k miles. It probably would have gone further but we did go lax on maintenance and I think that shortened her life a bit.:wink:
    4. Always ask for maintenance records and if possible talk to the vehicles mechanic.
  19. Jan 5, 2004 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Tsunami and I have driven a combined total of well over 500,000 miles in Toyota vehicles. I try to buy American products when possible, but from my experience, its hard to beat a Toyota. On our first Celica [purchased new], at 300,000 miles we sold the car running with a total of three non-standard maintenance items in its history: The front crankshaft seal started to leak, a metal A/C line was finally damaged by rubbing, and one heater fan. All other maintenance was standard: Brakes X 3, clutches X 2, std tune up items, fluids and filters. That's it folks; for 300,000 miles

    I was and am very impressed with their product.
  20. Jan 5, 2004 #19


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    A lot of the old rules for buying used cars no longer apply. The popularity of 3-year leases means new car dealers have fleets of used cars they have to get rid of quickly. Pick a big dealer, monitor their selection and wait. They will have a glut eventually, and they'll need to sell. They will advertise their stock discreetly on the web. They will generally offer a low, no-haggle price without advertising it much.

    Most of these cars will be high milage company cars, but they have been well maintained. Good models can easily go 200K miles with only a few major repairs, so high miles after 3 years is not a big deal, within reason.

    The cars that they have a huge stock of are not lemons. The lemons go to purely used car dealers (never ever buy from a used car only lot).

    Obviously, to use this method, you should not be in the position to need a car. You should never need to buy. Find a seller who needs to sell.

    One other note. Never buy from Carmax. They make a big deal out of no-haggle prices. This seems attractive for people who hate bargaining. But their no-haggle prices start higher than most dealers, who will come down.

  21. Jan 5, 2004 #20


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    Njorl, exactly, the car I just purchased was a lease return, which means low mileage and a good deal...i went through the internet and received 20% off the sticker price...plus, buying at the beginning of the year helped too as they wanted to decrease the inventory...
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