by: Steve Gillman
Some of these used car buying tips won’t be new to you. Often the trick is just to apply what you already know. On the other hand, when it comes to expensive areas of life like buying a car, one new thing learned can save you hundreds of dollars. Try some of the following.
1. Make a low offer. Okay, you knew this one. A trick you may not have used, though, is to make a low offer, and then leave your phone number with the seller. Time has a way of making sellers desperate, especially after you just helped convince them that they are asking too much.
2. Be careful with car price guides. Use the “blue book” etc, but try not to pay more than wholesale. I can’t think of many times when people I know have paid more than “bluebook,” so these “average” sales prices are doubtful.
3. Talk to people. This is one of the simplest and effective used car buying tips. Just let friends, family and others know you’re looking for a car. Quite often people would be happy to avoid the whole process of advertising and showing their car if they could just get rid of it by giving a good deal to a friend.
4. Check out the engine. Have a mechanic look at the car, and tell you what it’s likely to need in the next year or so. Then make a list, so the seller can see in writing why you are offering less than he wants.
5. Auctions. See if there is a public auction in your area. If not, maybe you can go with a dealer friend and give him a $100 to buy a car for you.
6. www.carfax.com. It’s around $25 to run vehicle background checks for a month – long enough to find your next car. They’ll show the chain of title, accident reports for the car, and even safety and reliability scores for that model.
7. “Ugly” cars. Watch for cars that sit on the lot for months. Dealers will often sell these “ugly ducklings” at a loss just to move them. Again, you may want to leave your phone number with a low offer.
8. Rental company cars. They are sold fairly cheap when they get the new ones in. Buy at bluebook wholesale or less, because they have had many different drivers, so they’ve more wear than normal.
9. Repos. Credit unions and some small banks do their own selling of repossessed cars. You usually bid on paper, maybe with a $50 deposit, and then get your $50 back if you’re not the winning bidder. If they don’t sell their own repossessions, ask where they are sold.
10. Consider gas mileage. High mileage may be better, but maybe a car that costs $500 less will use only $400 more gas in the two years you expect to own it. Do the math.
Use the tips here the next time you are shopping for a used car. Meanwhile, why not learn a few negotiating strategies. This helps in many areas of life, and is the most important of these used car buying tips.