Buying a Used Car?

Transportation is generally the second biggest cost of living in our culture. Buying a used car can be overwhelming, so here are some tips that can save you both time and money:

  • If the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Call us to see if the car you are looking at as generally a good car or a lemon.
  • Do not inspect a car at night when lighting is limited. You may not be able to see the full body condition in the limited lighting. It is best to inspect it in daylight to look for body damage, rust, mismatching paint, different size wheels or rims, etc.
  • Pay somebody to hoist the car and give it a comprehensive inspection BEFORE committing to it. If the seller will not allow it to be inspected, walk away as they most likely are trying to hide something. We love to do pre-purchase inspections to advise on the vehicles condition and have sent many down the road as “Do not buy”. If you are out of town, there is generally always a chain store open to inspect it for you. A dealer should have no problem with you getting a second opinion.
  • If the seller wants to meet in a coffee shop parking lot, walk away. Meet at the local police station if security is a concern.
  • Just because they claim the car 'just' passed the safety, doesn't mean it actually did. Ask for their copy of the certificate if they have one and read the date on it. A lot of stuff can happen in 6 month (ball joints that passed then may fail now, tires worn out, etc) therefore have it inspected again. Many times the 'just' safety was over 1 year ago.
  • Test the AC system even in winter. The compressor will engage briefly in the cold when the defrost is on. If the compressor works, at least you will know that that part of the AC is working. It may need to be serviced when the hot weather comes, but it should save you from a compressor replacement.
  • Carfax reports are good but don't necessarily report all major repairs. A car repaired after a collision that is repaired out of pocket rather than through insurance will never show up on the report.
  • Call you insurance company to see what the new rates will be. Some cars are considered high risk for either theft or personal injury and will have higher rates.
  • Make sure that the ownership information matches the seller's ID. The seller may be selling for a family member, so use your discretion.
  • Inspect the dash to see if there are any warning lights on. Walk away if the airbag light is on as it may cost more than the car is worth if the system has to be replaced. Check engine lights can be either a minor repair or a major repair (timing chain replacement).
  • If the rocker panels are rotten, generally it is advisable to walk away. The rockers are part of the safety and must be properly repaired to pass.
  • Aftermarket warranty programs are not what they seem to be. Most will cover come major times (engine, transmission, water pump, alternator) but none cover EVERYTHING. We are mow in the age of expensive engine and transmission replacements (generally a minimum of $5000, some are over $10,000) and all policies have a maximum amount payable per claim which is often exceeded. If the dealer is trying to sell yo a warranty for $4500, we advise to keep that money and put it into a savings account as you will then have it available to you. I f you don't need to use it in the two years (or so) that the policy in in force, then you have some cash for a nice beach vacation or maybe a cruise!
  • Once again, please have the car inspected PRIOR to paying for it. We would rather slightly disappoint you that your find isn't a good deal than hand you an estimate for $7500 to pass a safety after it is paid for (and yes, that has happened).
  • If you do buy something, please oil spray/ undercoat it. You can easily extend the life of your car by 5 years just by keeping it from rusting out.