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How to Buy A Used Car

Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross
When buying a car on CL (or anywhere), here’s what to look at:
  • Avoid dealers – they are professionals at this and will always beat you… either you will get a lemon or you will overpay.  Every single time without question.
  • Avoid buying on credit (or much credit).  Banks make an absolute fortune on car loans.  This is how they hand out billions of dollars in bonuses each year to execs.
  • Never buy a car with a salvage title – these are often pieces of shit with hidden problems.
  • Never buy a car with tires with very low tread – that’s an $800 expense to replace right off the bat.
  • Print this off when you go look at a car: http://autos.msn.com/advice/articles/aischecklist.aspx
  • Don’t act excited when you see a car, even if you are.  Just act a little bored, but nice & friendly & buddy/buddy.
  • Compare the price of the car to similar cars on craigslist.  Check prices on edmunds.com & kbb.com in the used car section.  To do this quickly I usually google search something like “1995 Toyota Corolla edmunds” to get to the page I need so I can avoid the navigation process.  Edmunds will usually give you a super lowball price.  Print this price off and take it when you go to see the car.
  • Review the car, test drive it, drive it along next to a wall slowly and unroll the window and turn off the stereo so you can listen for any weird noises.
  • Once you’ve fully reviewed the car, hem & haw for a few minutes and point out the pros & cons of the car… mention lots of cons.  Then make them an offer around 20-30% less than their asking price.  Negotiate back & forth & settle on a price.  THEN explain you will buy at that price if your mechanic signs off on it and says there are no more major problems that the person has not mentioned and you haven’t found.  Once the mechanic reviews the car, get a list of all work that hasn’t been discussed from him the car needs.  Present the person selling the car with the list of work & prices.  Then minus off all work needed to get at a new, even lower price.