How to buy a good car

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Firstly, buy a car from my Smaller Car portal list.


Things that you should look for:

  • ABS, ESC, power windows, remote for security and safety.
  • Service needed notification (oil life, etc)
  • Go for a model year that is five years old (2005+ model year currently). Cars are unusable after about 10 years (everything starts to break down), so that will give you 5 years without major headaches.
  • Anything more than 50-75k miles will probably be no longer covered by relevant warranties.
  • Any warranty other than the manufacturers' is good.
  • Set a budget before looking at cars, so that you do not get carried away. Make sure that you are serious at this budget, and will not go over it just because you saw a cute car.
  • Be patient. Different used cars appear all the time. The first car you see does not need to be the car you buy.
  • If a deal sounds to good to be true, it is. At this day and age, EVERYONE knows the right price for a car. If you see a price that is lower by several thousand dollars, the car was probably in an accident, or if you see a real bargain, the car was probably just been from a repair garage after a collision.
  • Resale value and perfect mechanical operation of a car that has been in a collision, even a minor one, is severely impacted. Stay away from cars that were in a collision.


Options that are expensive, but sometimes worth the money

  • Certified used car. You pay for an inspection, tuneup, and a warranty complimentary to the manufacturer's. Gives you a little insurance that you are not buying a lemon.
  • AWD
  • GPS
  • ESC
  • Remote start


Tip: you will always save money buying a pre-certified or certified used car from a dealership other than the car's make (brand). Dealerships get cars from other makes as trade-ins. Those cars are usually in good condition (as those drivers have enough money to get a better vehicle). Also, dealerships from other makes charge much less for the certification and warranty of used cars than the car's own make dealership. Additionally, they are interested in selling that car as quickly as possible, because it is not their make that they deal with.


Paperwork:

It is very important that you obtain all of the following:

  • Bill of sale with name, address, make, model, color, VIN, scratches dings and dents disclosure. Mechanical problems disclosure. Terms of return if the car was a lemon. Maintenance work that was performed (if no bullet list is available, just get the garage name where services were performed)


Fees to have money for:

Note: count on the fees below to make up 1/7th the advertised cost of the car, and budget accordingly.

  • Dealership sale fee
  • DMV registration and plates fee
  • DMV sale taxes
  • Insurance downpayment (even if you already have a policy, you'll need to add another one)
  • If buying out of state, ask about dealership plates policy.


If you are buying from a dealership or "certified" garage, have the following terms listed and explained to you:

  • No collisions guarantee, printout of car history (CarFax)
  • Guarantee that check engine light will not turn on as soon as you pull into your driveway.
  • 30 day no problems warranty, returnable within 30 days.
  • Any warranties other than manufacturer's.
  • Guarantee that car will pass inspection.


Where to obtain a loan

  • Best place to obtain a car loan is your local bank that you have an account with. Do not give in to garage's or dealership's salesman pushing you lower percent car loans. Why?
  • A local bank knows you and may be more forgiving if your credit history is not very good
  • Your paperwork and bills will stay with the local bank
  • A paid off car loan is a good argument for a future house loan with that bank
  • The difference of a few percentage points is just a few hundred dollars. That isn't money.
  • Your information will not be sold and traded between the big national companies. After you pay off your loan, you will not be continually contacted with pitches for other loans and services. Your information will not suddenly become a property of another bank
  • That salesman gets a cut of that loan that you get, and that's how he can give lower rates.