Archive for the ‘Car Tips’ Category
Posted on: October 10, 2012 | In Car Tips
Buying a used car can be a tricky proposition under the best of circumstances. But when you throw in certain factors, like high mileage, it’s easy to end up with a car you would have been better off without. To help you in your search for a quality high mileage used car, we’ve compiled 10 common industry tips you can use.
Don’t forget to enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool to find the best online auto insurance rates for that used car you’re after!
As you read through our 10 tips, keep in mind there is no such thing as a perfect used car. Just about every pre-owned vehicle has at least a few quirks and issues with which you’ll have to contend. Your goal is to find a used car that meets your needs, yet won’t cost you a ton of money in repair bills.
Tip #1 – Verify the Mileage
When you first peer into the driver’s side window you can get a glance at the odometer, as long as it’s mechanical rather than digital. Don’t automatically be scared away if it reads in excess of 100,000 miles.
With the quality of today’s engines, there could potentially be plenty of life left in the car as long as its owners took good care of it.
On the other hand, if you see an odometer reading that seems a bit low in relation to the age of the car, don’t automatically assume the car is a gem. There are a number of factors that go into determining the truth behind the numbers you’re seeing on the odometer, and how those numbers relate to the quality of the vehicle.
You should verify with the car’s owner that the odometer reading is correct. You can do so by looking at service records, getting a CarFax or CarProof record, and checking with the owner’s primary mechanic. Most states have laws in place, similar to those in Ohio, that make it a crime to tamper with the odometer or falsely represent mileage when selling a used car.
Tip #2 – Check for Oil Leaks
One of the most important aspects of long automotive life is optimal engine performance. When an engine is leaking oil, there could potentially be a serious issue under the hood. Almost every engine will begin to leave a drip or two once you get around the 100,000 mile range, but if an oil leak is anything more than a drip, don’t take the risk.
The obvious first place to look for an oil leak is the ground underneath the engine compartment. Also, discreetly look around at the owner’s driveway for potential oil stains. Sometimes owners will move a car from its usual parked location in order to show it to a potential buyer.
Finally, pop the hood and look for oil on top of the engine compartment. Get on your back and check underneath for signs of oil leakage on the transmission and throughout the engine compartment.
Tip #3 – Check for Transmission Leaks
Though transmission leaks tend to be less frequent than engine oil leaks, they can be just as costly. If the transmission is leaking, you may see a light pink fluid on the ground underneath the car. But you’ll also need to get under the car and feel around with your fingers where the transmission meets the engine.
If you plan to check the level of the transmission fluid using the dipstick, remember that the engine needs to be warm to get an accurate reading.
Oil levels are just the opposite. So perhaps you can check the oil dipstick first, then start the engine and let it run for a few minutes before checking the transmission fluid. Neither fluid should be dark or cloudy in appearance.
Tip #4 – Look for Smoke
You want to start the engine of a high mileage used car and let it run for a few minutes. Then stress the engine by hitting the gas for a few seconds while looking in the rear-view mirror for smoke. Obviously, you should not see any; if you do, pay attention to the color.
According to O’Reilly Auto Parts, a Missouri-based auto parts retailer, black smoke is an indication of a potential fuel leak. Black smoke is caused when gas flows to the cylinders more quickly than the combustion process can handle.
If you see the white smoke, accompanied by a faintly sweet odor, there’s a good chance anti-freeze is leaking into the engine compartment. This could signify a blown gasket or a worn head. If you see blue smoke, that’s a sign of an oil leak.
Tip #5 – Check Tire Wear
When everything is working properly, the tires on a car should wear out pretty consistently across all four wheel positions. In addition, each individual tire should wear evenly across its entire surface.
If tread wear is uneven on any single tire, or from one side of the car to the other, there may be a problem with the suspension or alignment.
AutoZone’s ProCar Care website explains how to read and interpret tire wear patterns. If tires are worn just in the center or on the edges, it may just be an issue of under or over inflation. But if tires are cupped, feathered, or worn on just one side, there’s a high likelihood that something in the steering or suspension is out of whack.
Tip #6 – Look for Rust
Looking for rust is more important in cold weather climates, especially where road salt is used during the winter months. Surface rust can be eliminated through minimal bodywork, so you’ll need to look in other places like the wheel wells, the trunk, and the engine compartment, along the bottoms of doors, around the gas cap, and underneath the car.
Underneath the car, you should be looking for rust along the frame rails, on the gas tank, across the exhaust system, and along all the fuel line. Pay special attention to the brake lines, as excessive rust could cause them to rupture without warning.
Lastly, pick up the floor mats and check for rust underneath them. In cold weather climates where road salt is used it is quite common for floorboards to rust from the inside out. It’s okay to find a little rust under the mats, but it shouldn’t be anything excessive.
Tip #7 – Check Interior for Signs of Water
In most states it is a legal requirement to classify a flood-damaged vehicle as either salvaged or a wreck. It’s also illegal, whether you’re a dealer or a private seller, to sell a flood-damaged vehicle without providing full disclosure to the buyer. As a buyer, there are two ways you can check for signs that a car was previously flooded.
The first method is to check the interior for watermarks. Once a car is flooded, it’s very difficult to get rid of watermarks without replacing the entire interior. If you see watermarks on the carpet or the seats, or the interior looks exceptionally new compared to the rest of the vehicle, this should be a red flag.
If you suspect flood damage, you can run a VIN (vehicle identification number) check at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) website.
If the car’s owner was compensated by an insurance company for flood damage, that information will show up in the NICB database.
Tip #8 – Take the Vehicle for a Test Drive
Our last three tips are just a few common sense things you should do before you purchase a high mileage used vehicle. The first is to simply take the car for a test drive, if possible. A few minutes around the neighborhood should be sufficient.
During your test drive, be sure to challenge the acceleration and brakes; be safe, of course. Also pay attention to unusual noises, vibrations in the steering wheel, engine temperature, etc. If the car is not registered and insured, you may have to settle for just a brief test drive on the owner’s property.
Tip #9 – Take the Car to Your Own Mechanic
If the car is currently registered and insured, insist that the owner allow you to drive it to your own mechanic for an inspection. A mechanic may charge you $50 or so, but it’s well worth it if he can save you from making a mistake worth several thousand dollars. If the car isn’t registered and insured, bring your mechanic back for a second visit.
Tip #10 – Take the Time to Think
A good rule of thumb when buying any used vehicle is to never make a decision right away. For better or worse, sometimes our first impressions of a car cloud our rational decision-making mind.
After you’ve seen a vehicle, take a day or two to think about it. During that time you might be able to ask advice from your friends or do a little research.
If you just recently purchased a high mileage used car, now is a great time to enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool to find the best deals on car insurance for it!
Posted on: October 3, 2012 | In Car Tips
If you have a used car you’d like to sell, you’re not unlike millions of other Americans who do the same thing every year. Fortunately for you, there are lots of different ways to go about it. In the following paragraphs we’ll discuss eight of those ways, along with giving you some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and easy transaction.
As long as we’re talking about used cars, you can search for the best deal on auto insurance for your used vehicle by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool located on this page!
Before we get into the eight ways to sell your used car, keep in mind that there might be certain rules and regulations that apply in your state. Also keep in mind that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, federal rules require used car sellers in 48 states to follow certain dealer rules if they sell more than five used cars in a 12-month period. The two states exempt from federal regulations are Maine and Wisconsin (they have their own regulations in place).
#1 – List Your Vehicle in Your Local Newspaper
Though the days of printed newspapers are gradually coming to a close, there are still enough of them to consider listing your vehicle with one or two. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you should have several newspapers from which to choose. If you live in a rural area or a small town, you may only have one paper.
Better yet, many of the major newspapers print both paper and digital editions. The Washington Post is a great example, and they have one section dedicated exclusively to buying and selling cars. Listing your vehicle with a newspaper like this gives you maximum exposure.
#2 – List Your Vehicle in a Trade Magazine
Another great way to take advantage of print media is to list your car in a trade magazine like AutoShopper. First published in 1979, AutoShopper is one of the oldest such trade magazines in the business. They face a lot of stiff competition from online resources, but for people who don’t like using the Internet, they offer a great way to find a car.
Trade magazines like AutoShopper might be the best way to sell a used car in a small-town or rural environment.
The magazines are typically free to readers, so they’re supported by ads purchased by sellers. Most of them allow you to include one free picture; you can add more pictures for an additional charge.
#3 – List Your Vehicle on a Website
The Internet equivalent of a magazine like AutoShopper is a site like AutoTrader. According to Bloomberg Business Week, the AutoTrader website has been around since 1998, providing a marketplace for both private sellers and dealers.
The advantage of listing your used car on the Web is that your audience is so much larger. AutoTrader, for example, provides you with a listing on their site as well as a free listing on their partner sites whenever you buy a basic ad. Though it might be more costly than a local print magazine, the wider audience might make it worth it.
#4 – List Your Vehicle on a Retail Auction Site
You can get maximum exposure without having to use a site like AutoTrader by going the auction route instead. We’re all familiar with sites like eBay, and many of them have automotive sections specifically designated for sellers of used cars.
If you plan to use an auction site, there are a couple of things you need to remember. First of all, it’s not uncommon to be allowed to list your vehicle for free and then be charged a fee based on the sales price of the car. The higher the selling price, the higher your fees.
Second, when you sell a car this way you are selling it sight unseen in most cases. If you’re not careful to list all of the details regarding your vehicle, and you’re not completely upfront and honest, you could find yourself entangled in dispute with an unhappy buyer down the road.
#5 – List Your Vehicle with an Auto Broker
The next method in our eight ways to sell your used vehicle is to list it with a local, state, or regional broker. As explained by career and employment website CV Tips, an auto broker acts as an independent sales agents for dealers and private sellers.
A broker’s responsibility is to match sellers and buyers according to the needs of both.
Although most states allow car dealers to also be licensed as brokers, the rules they must follow in a broker transaction are very specific. Legally, a broker cannot make any representations as to the quality of a used vehicle being sold. He can only act as a facilitator between buyer and seller.
The advantages of listing your car with a broker comes by way of the sheer number of connections he has.
#6 – Sell to a Cash-and-Carry Company
A brand-new option just beginning to gain traction in the United States is a cash-and-carry operation. These types of companies look for late-model used cars that they can clean up and turn around quickly. They are the automotive equivalent to house flippers, whose number one goal is to make money by keeping inventory moving.
Using a cash-and-carry operation is a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to sell your car. Many of these companies will complete the transaction within 24 to 72 hours of being contacted. The downside is that you won’t get top dollar.
Remember that a cash-and-carry operation must make a decent profit in order to stay in business. They will pay you based on a wholesale price as determined by a number of factors. Then they turn around and resell your car at a retail price that will both cover their expenses and put some extra money in their pockets.
#7 – Sell Your Car to a Local Dealer
If you’re buying a new car, you should be able to dispose of your old used vehicle by taking advantage of the dealer’s trade-in option. But what if you’re not purchasing something? Can you still sell your used car to a local dealer?
In all likelihood, a franchised dealership (one that sells branded cars from companies like Ford and Chevrolet) won’t be interested in purchasing your used car if you’re not buying something else from them. As a matter of fact, they have no incentive for doing so. But local used car dealers are a different story.
Used car dealers tend to be independent, so they need to take advantage of as many sources of inventory as possible.
If your used car is in good condition, and is a brand and model that’s fairly easy to sell, a local used car dealer might be interested in purchasing it from you.
Like a broker, however, remember that you’re not going to get the best deal.
#8 – Sell Your Vehicle from Your Own Front Yard
Despite all of the options listed here, the one that remains the most popular among used car sellers is to simply park the car in the front yard with a “for sale” sign in the window. Owners have been selling cars this way for generations. As long as you live on a street with a decent amount of traffic, it is a good option.
The greatest advantage of selling this way is the fact that it costs you very little money. It also enables you to get a better price than selling to a dealer or broker, if you know how to negotiate. Unfortunately, selling your car from your yard does have its drawbacks.
First among them is the fact that you are completely responsible for the entire transaction. Consumer Reports Magazine deals with this very topic, along with offering a lot of great suggestions to help you sell your car more easily. Keep in mind that selling from your yard requires you to do your homework so you know what you have before you place the car in the yard.
Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Buyer
The last thing we want to address is the necessity for you to always put yourself in the shoes of the potential buyer. While it’s true that buyers can sometimes be unreasonable in terms of what they’re looking for and a price they want to pay, sellers are just as unreasonable at times.
Remember that your car is worth only what others are willing to pay; that price may not be exactly what you have in mind.
Also remember that the buyer wants to make sure he knows exactly what he’s getting for his money. So always be up front, honest, and of the highest integrity. If the buyer wants to have your car inspected by his own mechanic, by all means let him do so.
Though private sellers are not covered by lemon laws, you still don’t want to sell that stranger standing in your driveway a lousy car without telling him up front. The last thing you need is an angry customer showing up at your door, three weeks later, demanding his money back.
Whether you’re buying or selling a used car you can find the best deals on car insurance by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool.
Posted on: September 26, 2012 | In Car Tips
Buying late model used cars is an option being exercised by more and more Americans. With the economy struggling to recover and consumer prices continue to rise, buying used just makes sense to a lot of people. If you’re in the market for a late model used car, we’ve listed below five ways to find that great vehicle you’re looking for.
While you’re shopping for cars, you can also shop for car insurance online by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!
For purposes of definition, we’ll use the state code of Michigan and its reference to what qualifies as a late model used car. According to Section 257.2 4b, a late model passenger vehicle is one that weighs less than 8,000 pounds and has been manufactured sometime within the last five years.
Advantages of a Late Model Used Car
Before we get into discussing the ways you can find great used cars, you might be wondering what the advantages are of going with this option. There are a few, but the primary advantage is financial.
Consumer Reports Magazine did some extensive research back in 2008 to compare the total cost of ownership between a brand-new vehicle and a late model used car. Though the study is four years old, not much is changed since then.
Consumer Reports’ research showed that, in most cases, purchasing a three year-old vehicle provided the best value for the dollar over the first five years of your ownership.
They estimated that most consumers would save enough money to pay for all of their gas during that five-year period based on a price of $4 per gallon.
The numbers they arrived at were based on number of factors, including average maintenance and repairs, insurance costs, and the amount of interest the typical consumer would pay on a loan. For one of the vehicles they researched, the savings amounted to $13,000 over five years. That pretty much sums up why more and more people are opting for late model used cars.
Your Local Franchise Auto Dealer
Perhaps the most common place Americans look for quality late model used cars is their local franchise auto dealer. A franchise dealer is one that works with a specific manufacturer to carry that company’s vehicles. The dealer will use the manufacturer’s logo and name, and will participate in all of their normal marketing programs.
Franchise dealers usually only carry the best late model used cars available in the local area. If they take a car on trade that doesn’t meet minimum standards of quality, they will often sell that car to a wholesaler or a junkyard. The ones for sale on their lot are almost always the best of the best.
One of the main advantages of buying your late model used car from a franchise dealer is the support they provide after the sale.
Some offer lifetime oil changes, others help owners stick to a regular maintenance schedule, and still others offer a number of other benefits.
The downside of purchasing from a franchise dealer is the fact that their prices tend to be fairly high. Remember that the franchise dealer has a sales team and a facility to pay for. Those things aren’t cheap.
Your Local Independent Dealer
The next way to find late model used cars is through your local independent dealer. An independent dealer does not work with any given manufacture or participate in their marketing programs. As such, the dealership is free to sell any cars that the owner wishes to.
Independent dealers tend to be smaller and less bogged down with overhead; thus, their prices can be a little more affordable.
It’s also not uncommon for them to limit their sales force to just the owner and his immediate family. This also means lower prices because cars are free of commission mark-ups.
The downside to the independent dealer is the reality that some of them are dishonest, fly-by-night operations. Those without long-standing reputations may offer poor quality cars, poor service, and less-than-desirable finance options. To find a reputable independent dealer in your area, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or organizations like the Alabama Independent Auto Dealers Association.
Car Shopping Websites
The age of the Internet has given way to all sorts of online shopping options, including purchasing used cars. Online car shopping websites can be broken down into three different types: auction sites, dealer websites, and broker sites that match sellers with buyers.
Auction websites are great place to find a great deal on a quality late model used car. However, you really need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to go this route. Otherwise you could find yourself being scammed in a number of ways. Be very careful when buying a car from an auction site.
The dealer websites we won’t get into, due to the fact that they are simply an extension of your local franchise or independent dealer. As for the broker websites, they might be the most popular of the three online options.
The broker website compiles information provided by auto dealers, print publications, and independent sellers in a searchable database that allows buyers to find what they are looking for quickly. When you shop for cars using one of these sites, you won’t be buying directly from them; rather, you’ll be put in touch with the individual or company selling the vehicle.
Broker websites usually earn their money through advertisements or by charging sellers who want to be included in the database. This makes the broker website as independent as possible. It also makes it the best choice of the online methods.
Your Local Impound, Repo, or Classic Auction
If you like the excitement of the auction experience, you might prefer to shop for your late model used car by visiting local auctions. Car auctions can also be broken down into three types: impound, repo, and classic.
Impound auction, like the ones regularly held by the city of Philadelphia, sell off cars that have been seized by the police or abandoned by their owners on public roads. Wholesalers and independent dealers love these auctions because they’re great places to find a really good deal.
A repo auction is one in which vehicles repossessed by banks are being sold off to satisfy loans. Almost every major city has at least one company that handles repossession auctions. You’ll have to check in your city as to the availability of such auctions and whether or not you’re allowed to attend. Some of them restrict bidding to dealers only.
The classic auto auction is one that focuses on cars 25 years old or older. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find late model used cars at one of these auctions.
It’s not uncommon for an owner selling multiple cars to include both his classics and some late model used cars he no longer wants. If you’re unfamiliar with these types of auctions you can look up a company like Mecum.
Lastly, you can purchase late model used cars by going directly to private sellers. The main advantage of purchasing this way is the opportunity to deal with, in most cases, the original owner. These types of transactions tend to be easier to negotiate as well.
The biggest downside to purchasing from a private seller is the fact that he has no reputation he needs to protect.
A private seller might be more likely than a dealer to lie about the condition of the car he’s selling. He may also not be willing to allow you to have your own mechanic inspect the vehicle.
On the other hand, if you find a private seller who has taken every effort to meticulously care for the car, then you probably have nothing to worry about. These types of sellers can furnish you with records of all the maintenance and repairs, records of any accidents the car might have been involved in, and so on.
The one thing you should absolutely do when purchasing from a private seller is insist that he allow your mechanic to inspect the car. Even among the most honest sellers, you can run into problems with the car that he really didn’t know about. Unless the seller is experienced as a mechanic himself, you really need the opinion of a professional.
Stay within Three Years
If you’re considering purchasing a used car rather than new, it’s wise to go with a late model in order to avoid extensive maintenance and repair issues. As a general rule, new cars usually remain trouble-free for the first five to seven years of ownership. That means, if you follow the advice from Consumer Reports and purchase a three-year-old vehicle, you could easily drive it for an additional three to five years before you start sinking money into repairs.
Be sure to realistically assess your financial situation as well. If you really can’t afford a late model used car without stretching your budget, you might be better off purchasing something older, for cash, and putting some money away until you can purchase something newer.
Don’t forget to enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool if you want to find the best auto insurance policies at the best prices!
Posted on: September 12, 2012 | In Car Tips
Purchasing a used vehicle can sometimes feel like you’re doing head-to-head battle with the salesman. You are sure there is a price threshold you’re not willing to exceed, while the sales associate is determined to get as much from you as possible. You can help your cause by learning how to determine sales margins on used cars.
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When you know sales margins and some of the other things that go into determining the cost of a used vehicle, you’re in a better position to negotiate. That’s because you’ll know the position from which the salesman is bargaining, what his weaknesses are, and where you can save the most amount of money. Not that you’re trying to steal from the used car dealer; you’re just trying to get the best price you can.
Definition of Sales Margin
Sales margin is often referred to as “gross margin” or simply “profit margin.” According to Investopedia, it is not the same thing as revenue or income. In other words, the company’s total income takes into account only the amount of money they received through sales during the year.
Sales margin is a different figure derived from taking the total income and subtracting the total amount of annual expenses.
It is a more accurate representation of the health of a given company. It also shows a company where improvements need to be made.
Let’s use a small company with $100,000 in sales as an example to illustrate sales margin. If that company’s total expenses for a year amounted to $90,000, that would mean a profit of $10,000. Sales margin is determined by comparing profit to total sales.
In this case it’s a simple mathematical formula most of us can do in our head. With $10,000 profit on sales of $100,000 the sales margin is 10%. This would be considered low in most industries; a good margin would be considered 15% or better.
Sales Margin in the Used Car Industry
In the used car sales industry, the margin is not so easy to figure out because expenses aren’t static. But consider the following types of things that the used car dealer must take into account: the cost of purchasing the used vehicle; the cost of paying the salesman’s commission; the cost of necessary repairs and upgrades; and overhead costs.
Perhaps the easiest of these factors to deal with is the sales commissions. When you first arrive at a used car dealership, simply ask whether or not the sales associates are paid based on commission, straight salary, or a combination of both.
If their income is a straight salary, you can figure that paying the associate doesn’t add a lot to the price of a vehicle.
For associates who get paid straight commission or commission and salary, their pay does significantly affect the price of a vehicle.
Being paid straight commission typically means a sales associate will be earning anywhere from 8% to 12% of the vehicle’s price.
When combined with a base salary, the commission is closer to 3% or 5%.
It’s a good idea to take a calculator with you so you can run these numbers. For example, if a car is listed at $10,000, you can figure the sales commission to be about $300-$500 for an associate who works on a combined commission and salary basis.
By far, the biggest expense for the dealer is overhead. In most states a used car dealer is required to meet minimum standards of business operation in order to get and maintain a license. Let’s look at the state of Montana just as an example.
In Montana, used car dealers are required to establish a place of business with a physical structure that can be clearly seen from the road. They must have Internet access, telephone access, the proper signage, and the means on-site to provide the proper printed materials and records.
Furthermore, the dealership must maintain normal operational hours with verifiable employees on site during those times. The dealer must also maintain proper liability insurance and a minimum $50,000 surety bond. Finally, there is a renewal fee every year to maintain a license.
Adding Overhead into Sales Margin Calculations
Autoincome.com is a website dedicated to providing information to people interested in obtaining a used car dealer’s license.
They estimate that the average monthly overhead for America’s dealers is between $1,000 and $1,500.
Obviously, geographic location and state regulations can make that more or less in some areas.
Assuming $1,500 on the high side, casually ask your sales associate how many cars the dealership sells in a month. That number will be slightly higher than reality in most cases, but it’s still a good benchmark. If the sales associate tells you 100 cars, it means that $15 from each sale goes to pay the overhead.
Cost of Purchasing Used Cars
The last thing to consider in calculating sales margins is how much the dealer paid for the used car they are now trying to sell to you. The place to start is to look at standard used cars’ values using something like the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) or the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) guide.
For example, the NADA listing for a 2010 Ford Focus four-door sedan is about $11,800 retail. For an exceptional trade-in, a used dealer may spend about $9,500; the average trade-in value is about $8,700. If the car is in rough condition, a dealer may spend about $7,700.
Using our $10,000 car as an example, let’s assume the dealer paid closer to the $7,700 mark. Add in the $300 for sales commission and $15 for overhead, and you’ll see that the profit on a $10,000 sale is $1,985. That works out to a 20% sales margin for the dealer.
Negotiating Your Price
Keeping in mind that a 15% sales margin is generally acceptable for most industries, you have a little bit of wiggle room based on our example. If you could bargain the dealer down to $9,500, his profit would still be $1,485 for a sales margin of 15.6%.
To find out the sales margin as you reduce the price, simply figure out the profit at the current sticker price, then reduce both the profit and sales price by the same amount. Divide the new profit number by the new sales price and the resulting number will be the new sales margin.
To illustrate, we reduce the original profit of $1,985 and sales price of $10,000 by $500 apiece. Then we divide the new profit of $1,485 by the new sales price of $9,500 to get a sales margin of 15.6%.
Never Reveal Your Numbers
It’s best to never reveal your numbers to a salesman when you’re negotiating a price. That’s why it’s also a good idea never to buy a used car on your first visit. Instead, look a car over and find out what condition it’s in.
Get all the information you can in order to come up with an approximate guess about the car’s condition, the overhead a dealer might pay, the NADA value of a vehicle, and whether or not sales associates work on commission or salary.
Then go home and run the numbers to find out approximate sales margins.
At the same time, you can also determine how much negotiating power you have. If you’ve estimated the sales margin to already be near the 15% mark, you’re probably not going to have much room unless the dealer is desperate for sales. That’s something else you can gauge on your first visit.
When you go back for your second visit you should already have in mind a top price you’re willing to pay and a low price you’d like to pay. As you negotiate, you’re most likely going to agree on something in the middle.
Be Fair and Flexible
Although some people treat buying a used car like a sporting event, it’s not necessarily a wise idea. Don’t forget that used car salespeople and dealers have to make a profit in order to feed their families too. Don’t go into the deal with the idea that you’re going to pay just $100 more than it costs the dealer to do business.
That $100 may pay the salesman’s salary, but it won’t be enough to keep the dealer in business. And he likely has mouths to feed, just like you.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with the 15% sales margin whenever you can.
This is a fair deal for everyone involved. At 15% the dealer can afford to remain in business, the salesman will be able to earn a decent salary, and you’ll still be able to get a fairly good deal on a used car.
Of course, all of this is based on the assumption you know enough about used cars to make a wise decision. You should always have a used vehicle checked out by your own mechanic just to make sure you’re not buying a piece of junk. And you should also look around at a handful of different dealers to see what else is available.
If you’re shopping for used cars, you should shop just as aggressively for car insurance by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!
Posted on: September 5, 2012 | In Car Tips
Buying a used car from a dealer can be quite an experience. It can be good or bad, depending on what the customer makes it. To help you make it a good experience for you, we’ve assembled some great tips for buying used cars in dealerships.
No car is complete without insurance, so enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool right now to find the cheapest car insurance possible!
Our first tip comes by way of inventory. Due to the economic slump we’ve been in for the last few years, more people are choosing to buy used as long as they can find a quality vehicle. The increased demand for used vehicles means inventory is not as high as it once was; retail prices are also higher. You may have to look around for while to find the car you’re after at a price with which you’re comfortable.
Tip #1 – Determine Your Standards ahead of Time
It’s no secret that selling cars is about getting the customer to purchase as much car as possible while, at the same time, protecting the dealership from having to give too much. Sales associates are trained extensively in the various tactics and techniques used to make a sale. They are most successful when customers are not fully prepared before pulling into the lot.
Perhaps the best thing you can do as a used car buyer is to determine your standards before you ever leave home.
According to Kelley Blue Book, that starts with determining how much you can afford. You can base this number on one of two things: the total amount you’re willing to pay when all is said and done, or the amount of a monthly payment as it relates to your budget.
Experts recommend you determine how much you can afford using the first method. In so doing, you can later negotiate financing in order to get a monthly payment that fits in your budget, without paying too much for the car.
By contrast, when you work based off a monthly payment amount, the dealership is able to game the system in a way that enables them to charge you as much as they can while staying within a few dollars of your desired payment.
To determine your standards you need to decide how much you’re willing to pay, the type of vehicle for which you’re looking (i.e., sedan, minivan, sub-compact, etc.), the maximum amount of mileage you’re willing to accept, and what extra features you’re looking for.
Once you determine those things, don’t budge. The minute you’re willing to budge, you open the door to being sold a car you don’t really want.
Tip #2 – Never Buy Right Away
The other important thing to know about used car sales is the fact that dealerships want you to make a purchase decision before you leave their lot for the first time. They know that if they allow you to drive away and think about it, you are less likely to return and make a purchase. While this is bad for them, it’s good for you.
Even if you see the perfect car at the perfect price, don’t purchase it on your first visit.
At least take a few hours and scour a couple of other dealerships nearby to find what they have. It’s possible you could find an even better car at a better price by looking around. Comparison shopping also allows you to look at vehicles a bit more objectively so that you can make a better decision.
When you do settle on a car, go back to the lot and play up your shopping experience to your own benefit. Rather than allowing a salesperson to control the conversation by telling you how many other people were interested in the car you’re after, you can take control by telling him about all the other great cars you’re considering purchasing.
Tip #3 – Ask to See the Buyer’s Guide
The Federal Trade Commission requires that every used car dealer create a detailed buyer’s guide for each individual car they sell. A buyer’s guide must include certain things such as whether or not a vehicle is sold with a warranty or if there are any potential mechanical problems for which you need to look out, and information about having a car inspected by your own mechanic before making a deal.
When you do make a purchase, the dealer is required to give you a copy of that buyer’s guide for your own reference.
Tip #4 – Ask about Lemon Laws
Just about every state has lemon laws in place protecting consumers against dealers that sell defective cars without informing customers. Some states, like West Virginia, require used car dealers to inform customers of their rights under the state’s lemon law. You should always ask for that information even if dealers in your state are not required to furnish it.
If your state does require a used car dealer to provide lemon law information, and the dealer refuses to do so, report that dealer to your state attorney general.
In states like West Virginia, failing to provide lemon law information is a serious offense. By reporting such dealers, consumers are helping to keep them honest.
Tip #5 – Get a Second Opinion
You have the legal right to have any used car you’re considering purchasing from a dealer inspected by your own mechanic. Ask the dealership to provide dealer plates so you can drive the vehicle to your mechanic’s shop right away.
If the dealership balks at this request, you can walk away or try and make arrangements for your mechanic to accompany you back to the dealership at a later date. In either case, if the dealership is not amenable to you getting a second opinion, don’t purchase the car.
Along those same lines, don’t be afraid to ask to take the car for a test drive. There’s no need for you to spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle only to find out later it’s not worth the money you paid.
A test drive can go a long way in helping you determine whether or not you’re getting a good car at a fair price.
Tip #6 – Beware of Title Washing
Title washing is a practice employed by some used car dealers to dispose of vehicles that can’t be sold on the lot because of mechanical or accident issues. The USA.gov website explains title washing as a process by which a dealership will have one of its salespersons attempt to sell a vehicle through a classified listing to make it look like the owner is a private seller.
One of the ways to spot title washing is to compare the name on the title with the name of the person allegedly selling the vehicle. If they don’t match, it could be a case of title washing.
Before you agree to purchase any used car, always ask to see the title first. If you have any suspicions that something shady might be going on simply turn around and walk away.
Tip #7 – Check for Recalls and Safety Issues
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a database of safety issues and recalls in the United States. Consumers have free access to this information through the NHTSA website. You can find out if there are any known issues with the make and model you’re considering purchasing by entering that car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) into the online database.
When shopping for a used car, get the VIN number off the title and run it on the NHTSA website. If a dealer has nothing to hide, he might even be willing to allow you to use one of the computers he has on site. If there are safety or recall issues for a particular vehicle, the dealership ought to be able to tell you whether or not they’ve been addressed.
Tip #8 – Be Clear on Warranty Questions
Our final tip has to do with used car warranties. In most states, used car dealerships are required to provide at least a basic, 30-day limited warranty to cover most major defects. By law, a dealer must disclose warranty information at the time of sale. However, most of the time that disclosure is nothing more than the salesman handing you a piece of paper and asking you to read it.
Don’t turn down the opportunity to do so.
Read the warranty information thoroughly and ask as many questions as you need to make sure you understand it.
Once you agree to a sale and sign the papers, you are stuck with the warranty you’ve been offered whether you like it or not.
Along those same lines, also be aware that most states do not require a three-day “cooling off” period for used car sales. In other words, you won’t be able to purchase a used car and then simply return it within three days for a full refund. If you want a cooling off period you’ll have to ask for it in writing at the time of the sale.
Buying a used car certainly has its benefits over purchasing new. Yet, despite all of the tips we’ve offered, there’s no guarantee that a used car will provide the years of reliable service you want. There’s always a gamble involved, so be careful.
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Posted on: August 29, 2012 | In Car Tips
Have you ever gotten ready to sell a used car only to struggle over deciding how much it’s worth? Or perhaps you’ve been a used car buyer questioning whether or not a car you’re interested in is really worth what the current owner is asking for it. If you’ve experienced either of these scenarios, you’re not alone. To help you in the future, here are five things to look for when trying to determine how much a used car is worth.
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Used car values are a difficult thing to nail down for several reasons. There are so many different factors that go into determining the value of a used car it is difficult to say with certainty how much a car is worth on any given day. In the end, a good rule of thumb is to trust your gut. It’s better to avoid a transaction you’re unsure of than to make it and regret it down the road.
Consider the Mileage
At the top of our list in determining a used car’s worth is its mileage.You’ll need to pay attention to two things: total number of miles and how those miles were racked up. Both factors give you an idea of how much wear and tear the engine has seen.
In terms of total number of miles, what’s important is the current engine. In other words, you may find a 15 year-old car with an odometer reading of only 60,000 miles. But if that 60,000 miles is on the original engine, the car will likely have a higher value than if you’re talking about a second or third engine.
The odometer reading tells you how many miles are on the engine that is currently installed in the vehicle.
It is illegal in every state to tamper with the odometer to make a vehicle appear as if it has fewer miles on it than it really does.
In the state of Maine, for example, it is a crime for anyone to alter an odometer reading with the intent to deceive. Resetting the odometer back to zero with the installation of a new motor is not considered deceptive, since the odometer reading is directly related to the engine rather than the vehicle as a whole.
As far as how the mileage was achieved, there is quite a difference between highway mileage and city mileage. It is generally accepted that the stop-and-go driving we do around town is harder on an engine than highway miles. So if you were to purchase a fleet vehicle from a company whose employees put on excessive highway miles, the car still may be in better shape than a similar vehicle with fewer city miles. Keep in mind that you are relying on seller honesty in this area.
Consider the Body Condition
The condition of the car’s body goes a long way in determining its worth. First and foremost, being visual creatures we are unlikely to be interested in spending a lot of money on a car with a body ravaged by rust and accident damage.
That’s why used car dealers go to such great lengths to repair damage before putting a used car back on the market. Then again, there’s also the issue of safety.
If the body of a used vehicle appears to be excessively rusted, there’s a good bet you could crawl underneath it and see similar amounts of rust. Rust is a big problem in terms of safety because it can destroy brake lines, cause fuel leaks, weaken the car’s frame, cause engine mounts to break loose, and so on.
Accident damage can also be a safety issue if the frame and other critical components were not properly repaired after a crash.
If you’re purchasing a used vehicle from a dealer, they may be required by law to disclose the extent of body damage. In North Dakota for example, any vehicle less than nine years old and being sold by a dealer must come with an appropriate form explaining the damage, if the monetary value of that damage exceeds 40% of the retail value of the car. Most other states have similar laws.
Consider the Geographic Location
One of the things that people forget to look at in terms of a used car’s worth is its geographic location. For example, cars from the northeastern United States tend to be of lower value than those in the southwestern states because of the difference in weather conditions.
In the Northeast, is not uncommon for communities to use road salt as a means of combating winter snow and ice. Unfortunately, road salt is extremely corrosive, according to the Salt Institute. If a car from the Northeast has had proper rust coating applied and maintained throughout its lifetime, it will retain a higher value than one that has been neglected.
By the same token, cars from states like Arizona and New Mexico tend to have a greater probability of engine damage due to exposure to high heat. If an owner pays attention to regular maintenance by keeping coolant levels high, performing regular oil changes, and paying attention to belts, his car’s engine will endure less wear and tear. That will make his car more valuable on the resale market then the driver who fails to perform the same tasks.
Consider the Blue Book Value
Dealers typically use one of two guides in order to determine the value of a used vehicle on the retail market. Those two guides are known as the Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) guide. Both of these guides are put together using a variety of factors that take into account a used vehicle’s reliability and future life.
The one caution involving these guides is that they should not be taken as the final word in a car’s value. According to a 2010 article featured in the Washington Post, organizations like Kelley Blue Book don’t do any independent testing of vehicles; they use the research and testing results of others. That means their valuations can be somewhat skewed depending on the sources they use.
That aside, resources like Kelley Blue Book and the NADA guide can at least tell you whether or not the value placed on a specific used car is in the right ballpark.
On average, the valuations from these guides are fairly close. You can view the guides online or purchase paperback versions from the appropriate organizations.
Consider the Current Market
The fifth thing to look at when trying to determine a used car’s worth is the current market for that vehicle. This is a big issue for a lot of private sellers as they tend to think their used vehicle is worth more than the market will bear. In reality, the value of any product or service is only what the average buyer is willing to pay for it. It is not determined by some mathematical formula or a cost analysis offered by an industry expert.
Where you see market conditions really become an issue is in the area of used cars that have been modified.
For example, consider the vintage Rolls-Royce shown on an episode of TV’s Pawn Stars this past spring. The owner had heavily modified the vehicle during the restoration process and was asking for some $30,000. He could not make the sale when it was explained to him how vintage car collectors want to see vehicles restored to their original condition rather than being modified.
The point to understand here is that, just because a car owner puts thousands of dollars into a vehicle installing high-performance parts or other customizations, doesn’t mean its market value is going to go up.
What one owner may find attractive as an upgrade, a purchaser may find to lessen the value of a car. It is rare for a restoration hobbyist to get all of his money out of a vehicle unless he restores it to near original condition.
Buying or Selling
Determining a car’s value is a different process depending on whether you’re the buyer or seller. If you’re the buyer, you want to get as much vehicle for your dollar as possible.
You need to consider all the things we’ve listed here in relation to how long you think the car will last, how often you intend to drive it, where you intend to drive it, and so on. If you suspect a vehicle will not perform up to your expectations, it’s certainly not worth a high price tag.
If you’re the seller, you want to get as much for your used car as you can. But be realistic in assessing the worth of your car based on the realities of the current market. Be realistic about mileage, overall mechanical and body integrity, and how your vehicle will be perceived by purchasers.
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Posted on: August 22, 2012 | In Car Tips
Car purchases are one of those things that some people find a bit frightening. Knowing that you’re about to spend an awful lot of money on a vehicle you’ll most likely be driving for years is enough to intimidate even the most savvy consumer.
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If you’ve decided to purchase used, where you make your purchase goes a long way in determining whether or not you end up with a reliable vehicle. Keep reading to find out where you can find used cars for sale.
When you purchase a used car, a professional opinion is very helpful. Even the most experienced amateur doesn’t have the same amount of experience with specific vehicle makes and models to always get it right. Be sure to ask your mechanic to check out any used vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing before you make a decision. He’ll probably be happy to do so for a nominal fee.
Retail Automobile Dealers
According to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), it represents some 16,000 retail dealerships across the nation. Among those dealerships are more than 32,000 franchises covering all of the major brands, from Chevy to Ford to Toyota. Retail auto dealers are also a good source for quality used vehicles.
These days it’s not uncommon for a retail dealership to have a specific selection of certified used vehicles. These are used cars the dealership has taken in on trade. They are typically put through a comprehensive inspection, maintenance, and repair schedule before being put back on the lot for resale.
Because the process is so extensive and time-consuming, most retail dealers won’t put older or questionable vehicles through the process.
The advantage of purchasing a used vehicle from a retail dealer is the fact that you’ll probably get the best quality car from them.
They’re also more likely to give you a warranty that’s somewhat more substantial than a 30-day lemon law guarantee.
The downside of this type of purchase is the price. Remember that the dealership must cover the cost of the trade-in, the labor and parts put into maintenance, and the required profit in order to make the sale worthwhile.
Wholesale Used Dealers
The National Independent Auto Dealers Association (NIADA) is similar to the NADA, except for the fact that their members are not affiliated with any specific brand. They also tend to be more oriented to wholesale vehicles rather than retail.
By wholesale, we mean that they source their vehicles from repossession auctions and retail dealers looking to reduce their used car inventory.
These independent dealers are every bit as reputable in most cases.
The NIADA represents some 20,000 independent auto dealers in the United States. If you’re purchasing from a wholesale dealer, it’s probably a good idea to make sure they are members of either the national organization or one of its state or provincial affiliates.
Unlike retail dealers, independent dealers don’t have manufacturers to answer to. Organizations like the NIADA help keep them honest by establishing standards to which all member dealers must adhere.
The advantage of purchasing from a wholesale dealer is price. They don’t have the overhead of the retail dealer; nor do they have expensive maintenance departments and a fleet of salespersons. On the other hand, downsides include less-comprehensive warranties, little service after the sale, and the risk of dishonest lot owners selling poor-quality vehicles.
A subset of the wholesale car dealer is the self-financing dealer. Typically, these dealers will advertise with slogans like “buy here — pay here” or “we finance anyone.”
In principle these types of dealerships are virtually the same as the wholesale dealer who accepts cash or can arrange financing from a bank. The biggest difference is that the self-financing dealer allows you to purchase a car with a loan directly from them rather than going through a bank.
You can find some really good used cars with a self-financing dealer. On the other hand, you can also find junk that really isn’t worth buying. As a general rule, these types of dealers don’t invest a whole lot of money in repair and maintenance because they’re always taking the risk of buyer defaults.
Therefore, when you buy a used car from one of these lots, you’re entering a “what you see is what you get” sort of deal.
The dealer will have to honor your state’s lemon law, but beyond that, all bets are off.
Another great place to buy used cars for sale is the auto auction. The best advantage of the auto auction is the fact that you can get a really great car at a really great price. But doing so requires you to have quite a bit of knowledge about vehicles; specifically about makes and models and their known reliability issues. It also never hurts to take one or two experienced mechanics with you to browse through the vehicles before the auction begins.
The National Auto Auction Association website is a good resource to check out for information about auto auctions. They are an industry trade group representing some 321 auction outfits selling more than nine million cars per year. Auto auction companies belonging to this organization would be a pretty good bet in terms of reputation and vehicle quality.
With all that said, there are several different kinds of auto auctions of which to be aware. The first type is the wholesale auction, which gets its vehicles from bank repossessions and retail liquidations.
Aside from collector’s auctions, wholesale outfits are where you’ll find the highest quality auction vehicles.
These outfits exist in just about every major American city; they typically hold auctions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
The second type of auction is the police impound auction. These types of auctions are held by local, state, and federal police agencies on a monthly basis. The vehicles for sale are those that have been seized by the police, towed to the impound lot by parking enforcement divisions, or picked up as abandoned vehicles.
Impound auctions represent a great opportunity but one that comes with great risk. As demonstrated by Delaware law, lemon laws don’t apply to impound vehicles in most states. You’re stuck with your purchase whether you like it or not.
The third type of auction is the collector’s auction. This is by far the most expensive of the three; one visit to a collector’s auction and you’ll understand why. Most of the vehicles for sale are older cars that have been restored and/or modified. You can find classic cars from the ’30s and ’40s, muscle cars from the ’50s and ’60s, and some automotive oddities from the ’70s.
Online Car Sites
If you’re someone who prefers to do your shopping online you certainly have plenty of options from which to choose. Some of the biggest auction sites around have automotive sections listing cars from all over the country.
Online auction sites usually operate under one of two models: listings are offered only by private sellers or listings can be a combination of private sellers and dealers.
Be sure to thoroughly investigate any online auction car before you place a bid on it.
Another option for online purchases is a website that acts as a clearinghouse for both individual sellers and dealers. These sites typically don’t get involved in the actual sales transaction; rather, they act as a broker of sorts to bring seller and buyer together. Often these sites provide photographs, detailed descriptions, prices, and contact information. Buyers use that information to connect with sellers and make purchases.
Local Private Sellers
Perhaps the oldest and most common method of purchasing cars is to go right to the source: private sellers in your local area.
You’re familiar with this type of transaction if you’ve ever seen a used car for sale in the front yard. You stop in, talk with the owner for a few minutes, take a look under the hood, and decide whether or not you want the car.
The main advantage of buying directly from a private seller is price. Often, sellers simply want to get the car out of the driveway so they’re willing to negotiate.
If you’re a really good negotiator who knows how to bargain without insulting the seller, you can get a really good deal on a used car this way.
The obvious downside to purchasing from a private seller is the fact that you get no guarantee or warranty. Furthermore, lemon laws don’t apply to private transactions. Bring along your mechanic to inspect the vehicle or insist that the owner allow you to drive it to the garage for an inspection. An owner who has nothing to hide shouldn’t have a problem with this.
Regardless of where you choose to buy a used car, be sure to do your homework ahead of time. There are lots of online resources that can tell you all about specific makes and models. The more informed you are, the stronger your position will be in terms of negotiating a good deal on a great car.
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Posted on: July 25, 2012 | In Car Tips
If you’re in the market for an old used car, you’re in luck. There are plenty of places to find them if you know where to look and for what you’re looking. You can buy old used cars in good condition through dealerships, auto auctions, classified ads, automotive brokers, and even individual owners.
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For the purposes of definition, we’ll consider “old used vehicles” to be anything built prior to 2000. Cars built after that are still fairly common and easy to come by. We’ll also include vintage cars (built from the 1920s through the 1950s) as part of our discussion.
The Reason for Purchasing
Before deciding what the best avenues are for you to pursue, you’ll want to ask yourself the purpose for your purchase. If you’re looking for an older used car with which to send your college-bound student off to school, you’re probably not concerned with a specific make or model. As long as the car is safe and dependable, you will likely be satisfied.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a specific type of old used vehicle for restoration or collection purposes, your opportunities to find such a vehicle is more limited. You may not care about condition, since you’re restoring it any way, but you certainly don’t want to purchase the first thing you find lying in a junkyard.
In a nutshell, the type of car you’re after and the reason you want it will dictate where you start looking first.
Local Independent Auto Dealers
If you’re looking for an old used vehicle you intend to drive on a regular basis, a good way to start is by checking out local independent auto dealers. By independent, we mean they are not associated with a specific manufacturer like Ford, Chevy, or Dodge. Without such an affiliation they are unlikely to carry brand-new cars; inventory tends to be stocked with trade-ins and repossessions they’ve purchased at auction.
The National Independent Auto Dealers Association is a trade organization for licensed independent auto dealers around the country. Their website might include information about local independent dealers in your area. Likewise, there are quite a number of similar state-based organizations, such as the Georgia Independent Auto Dealers Association and the Texas Independent Auto Dealers Association.
In some larger cities, independent auto dealers have banded together in a local organization as well. In either case, these trade organizations can help you find a reputable dealer, stay abreast of state regulations regarding used cars, or just check the local inventory.
New Car Dealers
You can find old used cars at new car dealer lots as well, though you’re not likely to find a huge selection and great deals. Because we’re talking about cars built prior to 2000, they don’t have a lot of resale value to make them lucrative to a new car dealer.
If one of these dealers does have an old used car, it’s probably a collectible or a factory vehicle in exceptionally pristine condition. Otherwise they won’t take up valuable lot space with a used car that has no profit in it.
If you do decide to use an independent or new car dealer, be sure you’re armed with good information before you try to sit down and work out a deal.
Even if that means taking a vehicle for a test drive and then returning a few days later to negotiate.
Remember that, without full knowledge of the type of car you’re thinking about, the dealer’s salesman has the upper hand in negotiations. But if you take the time to go home and do some research, you will be in a much better bargaining position when you return.
Used Car Auctions
Whether you’re buying a used car for normal use or you’re a classic car collector, used car auctions are a great place to find what you’re looking for. There are basically three types of auctions you will be looking at:
- Bank or repossession auctions
- Police auctions
- Classic car auctions
Your typical bank or repossession auction is one where cars are sold off by a broker or auctioneer, such as Peach State Auto Auction in Georgia, that has contracted with automotive lenders. They are selling cars that have been seized by lenders after owners default on their loans.
What makes this type of auction so lucrative is the fact that many of the cars are still in very good condition. It’s a great place to find an older used car at a really good price. At the same time, you might be hard-pressed finding something built prior to 2000.
A police auction is one based upon one of two different formats. The first is an impound auction, like the ones held regularly in Topeka, Kansas.
Like most other medium- and large-sized cities, Topeka auctions off cars whenever its impound lot begins to get full. These cars were impounded for a variety of reasons, including parking violations, traffic violations, and failure to pay tickets. Their owners failed to reclaim the vehicles within the allotted amount of time.
The other category of police auctions involving vehicles seized by police agencies as part of criminal investigations. These cars don’t go to the impound lot because they are used as evidence in criminal proceedings. Once a court case has been resolved, police are then free to sell the vehicles at auction.
Finally, classic car auctions are perhaps the best place to find old used cars that have already been restored and modified.
This is the place you can find that 1950s Chevy you’ve always dreamed about, or that 1930s Packard from the days of the Prohibition mob wars. As one of the nation’s most well-known classic car auction companies, Mecum Auctions is one place you’ll find some of the most rare and coveted older vehicles still on the road.
For those who specifically like to purchase old cars they can bring back from the dead, there is no better place to go looking than your local salvage yard. Salvage yards tend to pick up old used cars for the purposes of selling the parts to auto dealers and repair shops. When a car has been sufficiently stripped of most of its valuable parts, it will typically be crushed and sold as scrap metal.
Because of the way the system is designed, there tends to be a handful of older cars that never get parted out or crushed for scrap metal. They may sit abandoned in a back corner of the yard where they remain until a classic car restoration enthusiast like yourself rescues them from the junkyard.
The only thing you really need to be concerned about when buying from a salvage yard is knowing what you’re getting before you purchase it.
In terms of the body and engine, you’re probably not worried about those things because you’ll be restoring them anyway. But what you really need to be concerned about is the frame. If a frame is bent, rusted through, cracked, or otherwise shows signs of weakness, it may not be worth your trouble to try to pull the car out and restore it.
As a side note, you might also look for parts while you’re at the salvage yard. A pull-your-own yard is a great place to find the parts you need for restoration at a very good price.
Online and Print Classifieds
Finally, your last source for old used cars is print or online classified ads. These ads are sometimes purchased by individual owners; other times they’re purchased by car dealers, salvage yards, and auctioneers. In either case, your widest selection of inventory comes by way of classified ads. It might help to use a source that includes photographs, as that could help you weed out some of the cars in which you’re definitely not interested.
Just be cautious with classified ads so you don’t become victim of a scam. It’s not uncommon for scammers to publish ads in the newspaper or online at sites like Craigslist.
Be sure to investigate all cars thoroughly, have a mechanic give a second opinion, and ask to see the title and registration information.
As an example of why you need to be careful, consider a Texas man whose 1967 Austin Healey was stolen from his Philadelphia home in 1970. Several news outlets reported the man ran across the vehicle on an eBay auction 42 years later. Who knows how many times the vehicle changed hands before the Los Angeles auto dealer selling the car on eBay got hold of it. It would be a shame if you purchased an old used car only to have it taken away from you because it turned out to be stolen.
Regardless of your reason for purchasing an old used car, auto insurance is going to be necessary. Start looking for competitive quotes by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tools on this page!
Posted on: July 18, 2012 | In Car Tips
What do you do if you have an old used car you want to dispose of and get a little money for? How about a late model used car you need to sell quickly because you’re in need of cash? Thankfully, there are several different options for places that pay cash for used cars.
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The reason you are selling your used car will play a big role in the person to whom you choose to sell it and how much money you get out of it. Just be forewarned that those who purchase your car for cash may need to make money off it themselves. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be offered as high an amount as you’re thinking.
Just because your vehicle is worth a certain amount to you, doesn’t mean it’s worth the same to a company or individual hoping to buy it from you.
Selling a Junker
Perhaps the most common reason for seeking a cash buyer for a used vehicle is a simple desire to dispose of an old junker. This may be a vehicle that no longer runs, one that has turned into a rolling mountain of rust, or one with repair bills slowly getting more expensive. For these types of vehicles, the best bet is a salvage yard.
Salvage yards, like Tampa Bay’s All Auto Recycling, purchase both wrecks and junkers for recycling. Usable parts will be pulled out and sold on the used part market, while the rest of the vehicle will be crushed and sold for scrap metal.
It’s a great way to recycle vehicles so they don’t take up space in a junkyard or your backyard. Salvage yards can be found in just about every community.
When selling to a salvage yard, don’t expect to get much.
Depending on the seller’s market where you live, you could get an offer as low as $50 or $100. In some locales, salvage yards don’t offer anything but free towing because their services are in such high demand.
This is common in more northern parts of the country where the road salt used during the winter months wreaks havoc on car bodies and frames. There are just so many junkers to get rid of that salvage yards don’t have to offer any money.
Selling a Late Model Vehicle
There are people who have late model vehicles they want to sell but don’t want to go through the trade-in hassle with a dealer. For these folks, there are several dozen services around the country willing to pay cash without haggling. California’s Trade-In Solutions is just one example.
In the strictest sense of the definition, companies like Trade-In Solutions are actually car dealers. Yet, rather than maintaining a local lot and hiring a fleet of aggressive salespeople, they act more like a large brokerage than anything else.
These companies purchase late-model used cars for cash and then turn around and resell them to buyers specifically looking for that type of vehicle. Though many of them maintain a running inventory, it’s constantly turning over.
How It Works
If you’re dealing with a reputable company, the process will begin with them doing a thorough inspection and evaluation of your car. They will do a visual inspection of the exterior, interior, engine, and safety components, and then follow up with a test drive to make sure the vehicle runs properly. After that, they will thoroughly research the value of your car using industry tools such as the Kelley Blue Book and the NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) used car guide.
Once your vehicle is properly evaluated, the company will most likely provide you with a written quote. If not, insist on one. If you still owe money on your vehicle, the company will most likely make arrangements with your bank to pay it off on your behalf.
If they value your car at less than what you owe, you’ll have to pay the difference. If the value is more than what you owe, the company will either write you a check or offer you credit toward a vehicle you purchase from them.
Selling to a Charitable Organization
Although harder to come by, there are some charitable organizations willing to purchase good-quality used vehicles for cash. Those that do will sell the vehicles for profit as a means of fundraising for the organization. Keep in mind in this type of situation that you’re unlikely to get top dollar for your used car. Otherwise, it would not be worth the time and effort for a charitable organization to offer such a service.
It’s actually more common for charitable organizations to accept vehicle donations rather than paying cash for used cars.
The reason some agree to purchase is because donated cars tend to be of very little value in most cases. By offering to pay cash an organization can be more choosey so as to ensure they only have good quality vehicles to resell. Too many of them become junk dealers when they only accept donations.
In order to protect themselves, some charitable organizations that pay cash for used cars will use a local dealer or broker to act on their behalf.
Since these types of businesses make their money buying and selling used cars, their employees will know what to look for when purchasing your vehicle. Don’t think you’ll be able to pull the wool over their eyes by trying to sell them a piece of junk for more money than it’s worth.
What You Will Need to Sell Your Vehicle for Cash
The most important thing you’ll need, regardless of who you sell your car to, is its title. Though there are a few exceptions to the rule, most states are like Pennsylvania in that transfer of a vehicle from one party to the next can only be done by signing over the title. If you plan to sell your vehicle but don’t have a title, you’ll need to either request a duplicate copy from your state department of motor vehicles or meet the legal requirements for selling without a title.
Next, you will need a copy of your vehicle’s registration if your state requires the registration to be transferred to the new owner. Arizona and Texas are but two examples of this type of arrangement. When a vehicle registration is transferred to a new owner, the plates stay on that vehicle when it’s sold. In states where registration is not transferred, such as New York, the plates come off the vehicle and are surrendered to the DMV when the vehicle is sold.
Finally, if you still own money on your vehicle, you will also need to produce a copy of the loan agreement so that the purchaser can satisfy the loan for you. If there are any lien holders with claims against your vehicle, other than your bank, you’ll have to provide that information to the purchaser as well, so the lien holders can be notified of the sale.
Things You Can Do to Get More Money
If you think you might be selling your car for cash in the future there are some things you can do now to help ensure you get the most money down the road.
First and foremost is to take good care of your vehicle throughout your ownership. This includes regular oil changes and tune-ups; purchasing new tires rather than used ones; regularly washing, waxing, and vacuuming your car; and immediately taking care of any scratches, dings, dents, and rust spots.
Next, it’s always a great idea to save all of your service and repair records. This provides a complete and accurate representation of the mechanical condition of your vehicle for the new purchaser. In other words, it’s one thing to say you’ve replaced the transmission with a brand-new unit; it’s entirely different to produce the paperwork proving your claim to be true. Service records go a long way to putting the purchaser’s mind at ease regarding the condition of your car.
Third, you can use the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA guide to find out the current value of your car and how quickly it depreciates. Why do this? Because you’ll find that your car loses value more quickly within the first few years of ownership. After that, the rate of annual depreciation decreases with every passing calendar year.
By simply observing depreciation rates, you should be able to tell the best time to sell in relation to how much value you want to get out of your car.
At the end of the day, the most important thing for you to remember is that selling a used vehicle is very much a supply and demand venture.
No matter how much money you put into your car it is only worth what others are willing to pay for it.
One of the common misconceptions among car owners is the idea that, because they put several thousand dollars worth of repairs into their vehicles, those vehicles are somehow worth more money. They aren’t.
Be realistic in your expectations. At the same time be willing to negotiate with purchasers, as they will usually offer you less than what they are willing to spend. Most of the time, when purchasers and sellers go back and forth in negotiations, the eventual price is somewhere between what both sides initially offered.
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Posted on: July 4, 2012 | In Car Tips
Commercial vehicles are part of the American highway, carrying passengers, consumer goods, heavy equipment, and more. Though all of these vehicles can be purchased brand-new, there are plenty of resources available to help potential buyers find them on the used market. We’ll list eight of those resources here.
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Commercial vehicles are typically divided into light passenger cars, buses, cargo trucks, and construction or utility vehicles. When we talk about commercial used cars, we are referring to passenger vehicles such as limousines, taxis, police vehicles, and so on.
In most states, the division between cars, buses, and trucks is dependent on either total weight or the number of axles. North Carolina’s DOT provides a great illustration of this principle.
Commercial Vehicle Dealers
The obvious first choice for finding commercial used vehicles would be your local commercial dealer.
Unless you live in a large metropolitan area, it’s not likely you’ll find such dealers specializing only in cars. Most will have a variety of vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Just like purchasing a standard passenger vehicle, you’ll be visiting a dealer lot, inspecting several cars, and negotiating with salesmen.
The one thing you really need to be careful of when buying commercial used cars from a dealer is quality. Unlike trucks, buses, and heavy equipment, commercial cars don’t last any longer than regular passenger vehicles. By the time they end up on a dealer lot, they’ve probably seen lots of miles and plenty of repairs.
It can be very difficult to find good-quality commercial cars under these circumstances.
As a side note, it’s always a good idea to have a used vehicle checked out by your own mechanic before you purchase it.
Surplus Equipment Auctions
The second place to find commercial used vehicles is at surplus equipment auctions. These types of auctions are held by the federal, state, and local governments to dispose of all types of surplus equipment. The USA.gov website provides links to many individual state’s general services webpages, where auction dates and locations are listed from time to time.
Though policies vary among different jurisdictions, it’s generally accepted that government vehicles have a life of about three years.
In other words, government entities tend to replace one-third of their total fleet on an annual basis so that any given vehicle is not on the road more than three years.
That means you can get a late model vehicle that’s in fairly good condition if you’re purchasing from an entity that made the effort to take care of those vehicles.
Vehicles to be careful of include police cars and passenger vehicles used by mayors, county executives, and so on. These cars typically have heavy mileage, for obvious reasons. And though they are usually taken good care of, the fact still remains that excessive mileage in a short amount of time does reduce the life of the vehicle.
General Equipment Auctions
Similar to surplus equipment auctions, a general equipment auction is the private sector equivalent. The vehicles and equipment for sale might be the result of a company going out of business, older equipment being replaced by newer lines, or a broker who has amassed a selection of vehicles and equipment and is now ready to dispose of them.
At these types of auctions, you can see everything from limousines and taxis to heavy farm machinery.
You can find these types of auctions locally by doing an Internet search or checking the classifieds section of your local newspaper. Auction companies may also post bulletin board announcements at retail locations around town, or attach flyers to telephone poles and utility boxes.
A company like ELCO Auctions in Corpus Christi, Texas, will have surplus military vehicles and municipal vehicles, and access to commercial used cars from private companies for sale.
The fourth choice for used commercial vehicles is also the last among the auctions. The police auction is one where incumbent vehicles are sold off, with the proceeds going to the local police department. Vehicles may have been impounded due to criminal activity, illegal parking, or any other number of reasons. In most cases, owners have been given the opportunity to recover their vehicles and have neglected to do so.
Impounded vehicles present a great opportunity for a bargain, but you really have to be careful about what you purchase.
Except for criminals, who are not given the opportunity to recover their vehicles, the rest have been left at the impound lot for a reason. Often, that reason lies in the fact that the vehicle is not worth the money or effort to recover it from impound. That’s one of the reasons the cars are sold as-is.
Also be aware that, in most states, impound vehicles must undergo a thorough inspection for both safety and past vehicle history. Unfortunately, some jurisdictions don’t undertake these inspections before putting cars up for sale.
So it’s conceivable you could purchase a vehicle, only to find out that you’re not legally allowed to keep it because the inspection reveals that it’s been stolen. You will have wasted your time and money on a car you can’t keep.
From time to time, you can find good-quality use commercial cars at a local salvage yard.
As salvage vehicles, these cars were damaged by an accident, natural disaster, fire, etc. They were purchased by the salvage yard at a greatly reduced cost and then substantially rebuilt before putting them back on the market. Most states have strict laws regarding salvage vehicles and information disclosures.
For example, in the state of Idaho, a salvage certificate replaces a title when a vehicle meets certain conditions. In order to sell the car, the new owner must complete the necessary repairs to return the vehicle to its proper value and make sure it meets safety requirements.
At that point, the owner must replace the salvage certificate with a branded title. The branded title is stamped with some sort of designation explaining to potential purchasers why the vehicle was salvaged, and what work was done on it.
Used Car Websites
Used car websites are another place you can find commercial used cars. Sometimes you’ll find websites dedicated specifically to commercial vehicles, and other times they will include both commercial and passenger vehicles.
The main thing to pay attention to with these websites is whether or not a given site is selling the vehicles directly or merely acting as a search engine.
In other words, there are some brokers who provide actual vehicle listings for the purposes of bringing buyers and sellers together. Their listings will include all of the vehicle data, the selling price, and usually at least a few pictures. Buyers who are interested in those vehicles contact the broker and go from there.
Even though buyer and seller may, in some cases, work out any eventual deal among themselves, it’s still the broker that facilitates the transaction.
At the same time, there are other sites that simply cull data from a variety of sources and assemble it together on a single page. When you find a commercial used car on one of these sites, you can use the information provided to contact the seller on your own. There are no brokers involved whatsoever.
Used Car Magazines and Classifieds
If you have searched for used commercial cars before, you’re probably very familiar with printed magazines like Auto Trader. These types of magazines are essentially a collection of classified ads from various private owners and dealers. The nice thing about these magazines is that they tend to be local or regional. They enable you to find used vehicles within 100 miles or so of your location.
Many of the publishers of these magazines have entered the digital age and also provide their listings online. But it’s also not unusual to see someone place an online ad that doesn’t appear in the magazine, or place an ad in the magazine that doesn’t appear in the online classifieds.
When this is the case, it’s usually simply a matter of the vehicle owner not wanting to purchase both kinds of ads. So it’s helpful when using these types of magazines to check both forms of media, just to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Directly from Owners
If you’re comfortable with your level of knowledge, this may be your best option for purchasing used commercial cars. These types of opportunities allow for the greatest flexibility, the ability to thoroughly inspect the vehicle, and the opportunity to negotiate the best price possible. But in order to make this type of deal work, you have to know what you are expecting in a used car.
There may be other resources for purchasing used commercial cars. It’s simply a matter of looking around your local area or getting online to see what’s out there.
Just be sure to do some thorough research before purchasing, just as you would if you were looking at a passenger vehicle for your family.
Before you make your purchase, you can find out if affordable auto insurance quotes are available by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool on this page!
Posted on: June 27, 2012 | In Car Tips
Purchasing a used car can be a tricky proposition due to the potential for unseen damage or wear and tear. When you’re purchasing a car in an area prone to flooding, you have the additional issue of possible flood damage with which to contend. A car submerged in the flood is not automatically one you should not buy, but any signs of flood damage should be a red flag to have a vehicle thoroughly inspected by a certified mechanic before purchasing it.
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For most of us, the idea of flood damage to a used vehicle wasn’t something we thought of prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But, as Virginia’s Motor Vehicle Dealer Board explains, the storm and its aftermath opened the door for multitudes of flood-damaged cars to end up on the used car market. With so many homeowners declaring their vehicles a total loss, insurance companies were selling the damaged vehicles to salvage yards or repair shops–some were even allowing customers to dispose of the vehicles themselves.
Ask to See the Title
If you’re purchasing a used vehicle from a dealer or salvage yard, one of the first things you need to do is ask to see the title. Most states require titles of flood damaged cars to be marked either as “salvage” or “wreck.” Other similar terms might be used, but the idea is the same. The state of Nebraska clearly explains the process of salvage titles in that state on its DMV website.
If you see a title designated as such, you need to ask for the reasons why as well as documentation outlining what repairs were made and when. It’s obviously possible for these documents to be less than factual, but a salvage yard or car dealer is risking its business license if representatives provide you with inaccurate information.
If the documentation states generically that flood repairs were made, insist on more details.
Pay Attention to Your Nose
When you first approach a used vehicle for your initial inspection, note whether or not the windows are open, either fully or partially. When you open the door, take note of any odors before you stick your head in the vehicle, then take note again once you’re inside. You’re checking for any mustiness or excessive air freshener smell. Both could be signs of flood damage.
It’s normal for older cars to smell somewhat musty, but the odor should not be overpowering. If it is, it’s possible that the carpeting and upholstery were submerged in water at one time. The seller may try to mask those odors by applying heavy colognes or perfumes, or hiding multiple car air fresheners under the seats, under the dashboard, in the ceiling panels, and so on.
As an interesting side note, sellers trying to mask the musty odors often forget about the trunk. If there’s even a hint of mustiness in the car’s interior be sure to pop the trunk and take a good whiff inside. If there is a wheel well where the spare tire is stored you should also crack that open and check for rust or possible flood debris.
Feel Carpets and Upholstery
The next thing you should do is actually feel the carpets and upholstery by pressing down firmly with the palm of your hand. A salvage yard or dealer will probably make sure a vehicle is baked dry before trying to sell it, but a private owner may not think of this.
When you press down on the carpets and upholstery, you’re hoping not to feel any moisture deep within the materials.
If you do, it’s possible what you’re feeling is the result of flood damage. With upholstery and seat cushions this is especially important because it could take months, or even years, for them to completely dry out.
When you’re feeling the carpets, you might make a point of pressing firmly on the floor boards in front of the pedals and on the front passenger side. Even if the car hasn’t sustained any flood damage, these two areas are considered weak points for rusted floorboards. If the floorboards give at all, you may have to climb under the car to check the condition of the underlying sheet metal.
Look for High Water Marks
Consumer Reports Magazine suggests customers look for water lines typically left by mud and other contaminants in floodwaters.
At the same time, Popular Mechanics notes that water lines are not always visible if the floodwaters were somewhat clean. In either case, high water marks may appear on headlight lenses, trim or metal bumpers, and interior upholstery.
One of the best places to look for high water marks is the lenses of all the vehicle’s exterior lights. Lenses are expensive to replace to the extent that, unless the seller believes customers will be looking at them, they won’t bother spending the money. During daylight hours, water marks on the lenses should be clearly visible except for those that are red. In that case, or after the sun goes down, you can check for water marks simply by turning the lights on and observing.
Check for Rust, Mud, and Debris
If you’ve ever sold a vehicle you’ve owned for more than seven or eight years, you know how difficult it can be to clean all the dirt out of every nook and cranny. How much more when you’re dealing with flood damage?
Look for mud and debris around the door hinges, where the interior molding meets the carpeting, on the underside where brackets join the side rails or other parts, and so on.
Unless a seller has meticulously gone over every inch of a vehicle with microscopic accuracy, it’s virtually impossible to erase all signs of flood damage left by mud, rust, and debris.
Along the same lines, you might also lift up a section of the carpeting and take a look under there as well.
Check for Unusual New Parts
There are some parts in our cars that 99.9% of us will never replace; the instrument cluster is but one example. A new instrument cluster is a good sign that something significant was done to the vehicle, whether due to electrical problems or flood damage. But either way, brand-new parts that look out of place should be red flags to say the least.
Check with the NCIB
According to the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) maintains a database of vehicles that were totaled after suffering flood damage. The information is gathered from insurance companies, car dealers, salvage yards, and others who might be dealing with flood-damaged vehicles. By visiting the NICB website, you can check out vehicles with nothing more than the vehicle identification number (VIN).
The National Association of Attorneys General warns that the NICB database does not give details about the type or extent of the damage on any given vehicle, just that some damage was reported. But this is helpful if a dealer or salvage yard is trying to sell you a car they claim hasn’t suffered any major damage. You can take an NICB report with you and demand a detailed explanation.
When you’re purchasing from a dealer, especially one whose independent and not associated with any particular manufacturer, it is entirely possible for them to be selling flood-damaged cars without their knowledge. If they purchased vehicles from a salvage or repair shop that failed to report the damage, that dealer may be ignorant.
Ignorance doesn’t excuse the action, but there may be no purposeful intent to defraud you on the part of the dealer. That’s why tools like the NICB database are so valuable.
Purchasing from Private Owners
If you suspect a private owner is attempting to sell you a vehicle that has seen significant flood damage, it’s best to stay away from it altogether.
While private owners are required to be upfront and honest about their vehicles in most states, the various laws are not enforceable from a practical standpoint.
If you end up buying a lemon from a private owner you could spend more money in small claims court that it’s actually worth. By the way, the same is true regarding all issues of the quality of a used vehicle.
The advantage of buying from a salvage yard or dealer is that most states require salvaged or wrecked vehicles to undergo a thorough and vigorous inspection before they can be resold to the general public. If a salvage yard or dealer fails to disclose water damage at the time of inspection, and still manages to get away with it, you would have legal recourse in the event that you found flood damage later on. You could recover the cost of the vehicle, repair costs, and any damages as well.
It goes without saying that flood-damaged cars are a risky investment. Buyers need to be very aware and check any used vehicle for flood damage prior to purchasing it. As they say, better safe than sorry.
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Posted on: April 3, 2012 | In Car Tips
Buying a used car today makes financial sense. Even cars that are just a year or two older are priced significantly lower than brand new vehicles. Older models that have been well-maintained may also be a great deal, and these can save you a considerable amount of money on your new car purchase as well.
While buying a used car is a great option to consider, first you will have to find a good vehicle to purchase. More and more people today are taking steps to purchase their new vehicle through online shopping. The internet offers many opportunities for car buyers to not just shop for cars but to shop for insurance online, too. Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE comparison tool above!
Deciding What to Buy
The first step in buying a a used car online is to decide what kind of vehicle you want to buy. When buying a used car, you have greater flexibility to consider a wider range of cars. This is because even those on a fixed budget may be able to afford a luxury vehicle if they look at older models with more miles on them. Deciding which car is best can be accomplished most easily by considering points such as:
- How many passengers do you need to seat comfortably in the car on a regular basis?
- Does your new vehicle need special features such as towing capabilities?
- Are there extra features that you would like to have, such as a sun roof, leather seats, or heated seats?
- What level of fuel efficiency should your new vehicle get?
- Are there brands you prefer, or brands you would like to avoid?
The Cost of Ownership
In addition to asking these questions when looking for a used car to purchase online, you also want to consider the overall cost of ownership. Fuel efficiency is a major consideration to factor into the cost of ownership, but it is not the only one. Consider that generally imported or foreign vehicles as well as older classics will have higher repair costs than newer or domestic models. A vehicle that is still under warranty will have lower repair costs initially. Also consider the cost of insurance. You can easily get rate quotes for a few of the top models that you are considering by using a rate quote comparison website online. These sites are easy to use, and they generally require you to enter in the make, model, and year of the vehicle along with your zip code and a few other details. Reviewing insurance costs before buying online is a step that can save you money on auto insurance throughout the time you own the vehicle.
After you have completed these steps, you may have your choices narrowed down to a few different makes and models. It is a good idea to be open about the vehicle’s age. The age of the vehicle will factor into your financing options and insurance costs, so it should not be ignored.
However, considering vehicles within a certain window, such as from 2007 through 2009, may help you to explore a greater number of vehicles with your online search. There are numerous online search tools that allow you to perform a customized search query of vehicles based on your location, the vehicle type you are searching for, and your budget. Some allow you to choose between vehicles offered through a dealership and those sold directly by the owner.
Shop for Financing
Based on your own budget as well as the vehicles you are interested in purchasing, you may have a good idea about the amount of financing you need to purchase your vehicle. You can easily shop for a car loan while you are seated in front of the computer shopping online for vehicles. An online rate comparison website allows car buyers with a fast and easy way to shop for rates. While it may be tempting to apply for the lowest rate you find, also take a moment to consider the fees and terms of the loan.
Consider the loan that will be the most affordable to you over the life of the loan when fees and interest charges are all taken into account. In many cases, you can apply online. With your financial approval notification, you can then contact sellers and used car dealers for a test drive and prepare to buy a used car.
The Test Drive
Through an online search, you may find several models within a reasonable driving distance of your home that you are interested in. Starting with the vehicle you are most interested in, contact the seller to arrange a test drive. During the test drive, do a quick visual inspection of the vehicle to look for signs it has been well-maintained. You can check for:
- Even wear of tire tread
- A clean engine that appears to be free of fluid leaks
- The body for signs it is in excellent condition
While even an untrained eye can spot numerous issues with a vehicle, it is a good idea to have your own mechanic review the car before you make an offer to purchase it.
You may have done some preliminary price shopping for insurance rates at the time you were determining the cost of ownership of various vehicle makes and models. However, immediately after you purchase your used car, you will then want to do a more thorough job comparing rate quotes and shopping for insurance. Again using a rate quote comparison site, you can more thoroughly compare rate quotes. When shopping for quotes, to get the best price on coverage consider:
- Your state’s minimum insurance requirements
- Raising the deductible to lower the premium
- Making use of discounts offered by different insurance companies
Shopping for a used vehicle online is a convenient way to shop. You can use the website to conveniently decide which model is best for you, to shop for the best vehicle that meets your needs, and even to compare rate quotes for financing and insurance with ease. Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE tool below!