It is always nice to be able to buy new things. ..the smell of a brand new car, the fit and texture of new clothing, the look and feel of new furniture… can all be quite intoxicating. Even better than that, however, is the feeling of having saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on a good deal. Let’s look, for example, at purchasing a used car. Why not let someone else pay all of the fees associated with a new car purchase, or take the 20 to 30 percent depreciation in value during the first year or two. Sounds like a no-brainer, but when purchasing a used car you really have to do your homework. You’ll want to check out Consumer Reports’ Car Buying Guide. Make a copy of Consumer’s list of reliable used cars, as well as those to avoid. When you decide which car you are most interested in start comparing prices and features. Go to edmunds.com, craigslist and kbb.com (Kelly’s blue book). You should know what the average sales price is so that you recognize a good deal when you see one, as well as to avoid getting scammed by someone trying to sell the car for more than its worth.
When you have found the car you want to purchase, get the vehicle identification number (VIN) and run a car fax report at carfax.com. This will run you about $35, but is very much worth it. A car fax will tell you if the car has been in a severe accident, was flooded, leased, the number of owners, etc. Take a friend with you to test drive the car and make sure you have a reliable mechanic check it out before buying – not your cousin who works on cars. A good mechanic will give it a good over-haul as well as run diagnostic tests. Lastly, negotiate the price; you don’t have to pay the asking price. If the seller won’t budge, give them your number and ask them to call you if they consider lowering the price. If repairs are needed, the price should also be adjusted for the cost of repairs. Generally speaking, I would not buy a car that needed major repair work. When you buy used, you want to go with someone who has taken pretty good care of the car. The down side to used car buying is that there are lemons out there, so take your time and be careful. There is a good deal waiting for you. Patience and persistence will help you find it.