The sparkling mechanical beauty that you purchased six or seven years ago is paid for, but rust spots and less reliability have replaced the sparkle. It’s costing more and more to keep your old car running and ultimately it will need to be replaced. Eventually you’ll be faced with two options: a new or used car. In today’s market, with the popularity of leasing, many dealers are offering lease turn-ins that can be had for a fraction of the price of a new car and will provide years of reliable transportation. It’s probably best to buy a vehicle that you can use for a long period of time. We all know that cars depreciate, but acquiring a reliable vehicle that you can depend on helps to offset the negative aspect of depreciation.
Where Do I Start? Today, you have access to a greater number of resources than ever before for performing your research. The Internet now plays a key role in auto shopping, and you can learn a lot about makes, models and prices in a short amount of time. Even the popular online auction site eBay has its own car sales section. Many Internet sites list thousands of cars and can direct you to a dealer in your area.
You can also check newspaper classifieds and Auto Trader type journals. Keep in mind that newspapers and magazines are limited to a certain geographic area. Consumer Reports magazine can be an excellent guide to share reported ownership experience and the safety of your potential choice. It’s also wise to ask from friends and family for their car-buying and ownership experiences. Are they satisfied overall? Has their service experience been good? Did the dealer stand behind its promises? Would they purchase another vehicle of the same make?
The Dealer Has What I’m Looking For – What’s Next? Do some homework before you visit the dealer. You know the asking price of the vehicle, so compare it with Kelly Blue Book at kbb.com or the National Automobile Dealer’s Association at NADA.com. These are both excellent references to research the vehicle’s fair market value.
When it’s time to see the vehicle, it’s best to look during daylight hours, as many defects are not visible in limited light. Make a complete list of questions and jot down others as you go along. There are some questions the dealer may not be able to answer, but your inquiries should cover the vehicle’s features, maintenance record and present condition. Above all, request former owner/user information including a copy of the title.
Ask to take the vehicle for a test drive. If possible, test drive other vehicles of the same make/model as a comparison. Once you have made a tentative decision, ask the dealer if you can take the vehicle for an extended test drive, including some extra time to have it inspected by an ASE-certified technician. Ask the dealer for a CARFAX or similar report showing the vehicle’s ownership history. These reports are not all-inclusive, but may show potential irregularities in the vehicle’s history that may affect value or cause future difficulties.
The Final Step Now, you’re ready to take delivery of the vehicle. Get any promises form the dealer or selling agent in writing. Make sure you know what, and for how long, your warranty options are and what the restrictions are. It may be wise to invest in an extended service contract. All vehicles need repair at some time and a good service contract can help make the car you desire fit your budget. Lastly, schedule your first maintenance appointment – ASE certified technicians can ensure many trouble free miles of driving.
Safety – Safety – Safety While it’s easy to focus on superficial things like appearance, you should be at least as concerned about the vehicle’s safety features. Things like safety belts and air bags are critical in the unlikely event of an accident. When you need them they have to work right. Your life, and the lives of your loved ones, depends on it.
Buying a dependable used vehicle doesn’t have to be a gamble. By doing your research, taking your time, and trusting ASE-Certified professionals, you can stack the deck in your favor.
by Joel Osserman, Owner of Select Euro Cars, which is recognized by the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Program and is also Ask Patty Female Friendly certified! Check out their Female Friendly website.