Sunday, June 13, 2010
Venturing out to find a used car is far more intimidating than it was years ago. For one, it seems that people out there have not been taught honesty, as a prerequisite for modern living, from their folks just one generation behind us.
So my tips are engineered to find the right used car, even though the seller might not say what's really going on with the vehicle. Mind, this list is for people buying from a private seller rather than from a used car dealer. The latter, my friend, will need a trip down to get a book from Barnes and Noble on how to smooshz a smoosher.
1) Ask the question "Why are you selling the car". Good responses are following: A) "I just bought a new car". This is good as the seller is inspired to sell quickly", B) "It's a gas guzzler". Some people are (surprisingly enough)honest so don't be afraid to ask more questions while they are on a roll.
A bad response would be following: A) "I buy and sell cars for a hobby" This is a hard seller to negotiate with because they will stay tight lipped about any problems with the car and the seller tends to stick to the original price. They might only open up if you mention "I noticed a problem when I test drove it" but, you need to be very specific about what you found.
2) Get the VIN number on the vehicle and go to this site and do a search, or with some other online searches. The main thing is to make sure that the VIN number matches the make and model of the car, but cut and patch shops are clever enough to find VIN number plates to match the make and model of cars, so you need to go deeper to find out if other factors match up.
3) Be sure to test drive the car in silence, which means no blasting the radio as you need to be aware of any sounds from potential problems. Open the windows so you can hear the sounds coming from under the hood, and other areas of the car better. I was able to detect a problem with a CV joint by following this rule of thumb.
4) Call the DMV to find out if there are any outstanding liens on the car. You can use the plate number that is on the car for reference backed up by the VIN number.
5) Always Always ALWAYS look under the hood of the vehicle. Just the other day I looked over a vehicle that had a very noticeable (unfixed I might add) top gasket leak from the oil surrounding that area.
6) Ask "Are you willing to let me get this inspected by my mechanic independently".....if they show any signs of hesitation it should send off warning signals in your brain. Do not let them intimidate you by saying they already had it checked by a mechanic and it shows no problem, etc. The only answer you want to hear is "Sure, no problem".
These are just a few tips that will help in your search. Of course, it gets more complicated, and not all my warnings apply in all situations. Just coach your teen before you look at cars with him or her not to become emotionally attached to any car they look at. It will not help the negotiations with a teen screaming in your ear that they love it and want it now. Also explain that the main focus is to find a car that runs well and that cosmetic appearance is secondary.