how to buy a used car lifehacker

Last week I made the assertion that "Buying New is for Suckers," of course I was only half-serious about that title.
Many of you have said you would "never" buy a used car that is specifically performance oriented fearing that it has been hooned to death by the previous owner.
This was the body style that solidified the F150 as the best selling car in the world, with good reason – you can still find great examples like this one 20 years down the line for a reasonable price, with no real downsides.
It can last upwards of half a million miles on the original engine if you change its oil occasionally, the parts are dirt cheap, and the wealth of knowledge is plentiful.
The "affordable" Lexus is actually pretty damn reliable when you realize that it’s built with the drivetrain that Toyota has used in nearly every car in the 90s – the 2JZ-GE inline-6 engine.
After I asked you thrifty, frugal, and dare I say, cheap lot to give me the most dependable cars for less than the price of a new car’s down payment, you answered with some astonishingly solid examples.
Its engine is simple with no expensive service intervals, has room for 5, uses cheap tires, cheap fuel, parts are plentiful, and it doesn’t look half bad.
Parts are plentiful and reasonable, the electronics aren’t super complex like they are in later LS and IS models, and the car is reasonable light, so that means that it’s a great sporty drive.
If you don’t have much luck with the direct approach, check with your bank or credit union (whoever’s doing your financing—you are doing your financing through someone other than the dealership, right?) to see if they have a car buying program or offer car buying brokers to help you get the best deal on a vehicle.
Still, it’s a great and easy way to shop around without having to take up your entire weekend going from dealership to dealership asking about pricing, sitting in some salesperson’s uncomfortable chairs, and deflecting their attempts to upsell you on warranties and services you know you don’t need.
Manufacturer web sites will give you the base price of the vehicle, and a phone call or email to a sales associate at a dealership will give you a quote on the same vehicle with the options you want.
Even car dealers that haven’t moved to fixed pricing will still give you quotes online for the type of vehicle you want, and you can use those to shop around multiple dealers in your area.
We want to know—how do you do it? If you scored a killer deal on your vehicle by talking down a car salesman, we want to know your secret.
First when dealing with an individual your more likely to be able to get a better deal depending on the persons situation but with a little chat and some friendly conversation the bartering process is more likely to come out better than if dealing with a used car salesman and on top of that forum users are more apt to give deals to other users.
What I mean is "I have $5000 to buy this compact sedan so I save money, drive my small family and can park in the city much…oooooo look a mustang!" isn’t logical and beyond what you need (no matter what your inner child says).
Plus if you go through a forum like Naxja or AlfaBB (you can tell what cars I’m looking for) you can get a lot of feedback from guys posting about the car that might know more than you, or if it is long distance forum users are often open to checking out a car for you and you’ll be getting an honest opinion back.
Buying on an impulse leads you to decide that you’re going to buy the vehicle before you’ve looked at it, and that makes you do things like inspect the vehicle in the dark and/or in the rain, where you’re not going to look at or see certain things.
My Rabbit pickup and Volvo 240 wagon purchases ended in tears because of major rust issues I missed because the conditions weren’t favorable for a thorough inspection and that my impulse to buy overcame my common sense.
Program Car – is just another fancy name for "off lease" or 90% of the time "previous rental" – That’s where almost every single one of these cars comes from.
Using only the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the site will deliver a report that will indicate if the car has ever been in a reported accident, the number of previous owners, title status, history as a private or commercial car, service records and previous odometer reading.
Conditions range from "Poor" to "Fair" to "Good" to "Excellent." Few cars are truly excellent as that rating means the car has no defects, no visible scratches or dents and has never needed nothing other than regular service.
By comparison, a "Fair" car meets the following description: "Fair" condition means that the vehicle has some mechanical or cosmetic defects and needs servicing but is still in reasonable running condition.
Seeing a car in person and making a thorough inspection can turn up minor issues that you can use to help encourage the seller to lower the price or, if drastic, can help protect you from buying a lemon.
Using this feature you can see if they have a high positive feedback rating (over 90% is good), if they have lots of experience selling items (little experience is bad) and will let you see what other people say about them (if it says "They lie about the condition of their cars" beware).
A "good" vehicle will need some reconditioning to be sold at retail.
Ask The Seller The Right Questions About This Car Once you’ve gone through the first three steps and decided this may be a car you want you need to make sure you know all the important details.
Get Everything In Writing Before Handing Over Money New car buyers are often offered warranties and have the protection of lemon laws to protect them from being sold a non-functioning vehicle.
Investigate The Vehicle’s History Someone selling a newer Ford Focus may not have much in the way of historical paperwork, but you’d expect the owner of a classic or even older non-classic car to keep detailed service records detailing the car’s history.
This vehicle has a clean Title History, the paint, body and interior have only minor (if any) blemishes, and there are no major mechanical problems.
When purchasing a used car from a dealer they’re required by the Federal Trade Commission to give you a Buyers Guide, which must tell you: This guide becomes part of the contract when you buy the car and can help protect you if something goes wrong with the vehicle.
This vehicle has a clean Title History, the paint, body and/or interior need work performed by a professional.
The majority of cars are either "Good" or "Fair" and the price will vary based on that determination.
According to KBB a "Good" car means: the vehicle is free of any major defects.
When I bought my first Saturn in 1995, I heard all of the comments from the “I bought a Neon and the dealer had to give it to me for below invoice and you’re a sucker for paying GM 12% profit” crowd, and my response was always (1) you got a Neon and I got a Saturn, and (2) I was in and out of the Saturn dealer in about 10 minutes with the car I wanted, with the options I wanted, for the price I had known I would pay months before I bought the car.
Know what you want and what you are willing to pay, test drive before you buy, find a dealership where the people treat you with respect, don’t play or take an adversarial attitude but be willing to walk away at any time, make deal, sign papers, drive off in new car, DONE.
You call the dealer, pick out which vehicle with the options that you want, and you know the price.
Of course the monthly payment has to fit your ability to pay, but if you don’t also consider bottom line price, the dealer will have you paying that low low payment for 7 years at 12% interest! Know your budget, and don’t even MENTION a monthly payment until the bottom line price has been established.
I got info from several local dealers within about a 30-mile radius, and once I had my best price I even contacted a dealer 2-hours away in another state in case they had better pricing in another region; he said he might be able to beat the price by $100, but that wasn’t worth making the trip.
Insist that you be emailed a quote back, and verify the amount of time the price is good for (although most places will state that when they send a quote because they say something like 5 days because they want you to buy asap).
Why not instead, get online, find the car you want, print out the specs you want and the price you want.Take it to the dealer and say I want this.
Dealer loan rates are not always guaranteed… I’ve known several people that have had dealers call them and tell them that their financing fell through and that they would either end up with a higher interest rate, need to find their own financing, or bring the car back.
Here’s how to get a great deal on a new vehicle…on the last Tuesday of the month email 10-15 internet managers of local or semi-local dealerships that sell the car you want with the option package you want and say “Please give me your best offer on this car, I will be buying this car by the end of the month from one of the numerous Brand X dealerships in this area.
Go to ebay and find the new car you want listed by a dealer on ebay motors with a ‘buy it now’ price at or below your target price.
Let them know that you’re not interested in wasting their time, you just want a very specific vehicle at a very fair price.
Call every dealer within 50 miles (in SF bar area that a a lot) and ask for “internet sales manager” – get quotes by email or fax – if it’s not in writing it doesn’t count.
Costs $14, but you learn what the car is costing the dealer, and you can pad the price from there so the dealership can make the profit they need to stay in business.
I was going to buy from Dealer A, but the Finance Wookie never got around to returning my phone call about the OTD price.
Buying used can be a great way to save money on a great vehicle, and whether you’re pro-used car or anti-used car, you can’t debate the fact that used cars lose a great deal of their value within the first few years of ownership.
These cars may not have a smooth ride or many features, but they do have the lowest per-mile cost of ownership and they’re great for students, debt assassins, and those who need a car but don’t want to pay for a newer one.
Once a price has been decided on they think, "Whew, the hard part is over, now I just have to sign the papers." If a buyer lets their guard down at this point, they can really get taken for a ride.
Trying to get the best price on a new or used car is an uphill battle, but odds are you have some friends in your corner you didn’t know about: Your credit union and your auto insurance provider.
If you need one last card to play you can use the CSI (Customer Service Index) or "survey" as extra leverage.
TrueCar has analyzed car prices over serveral years to reveal the day of the week, month, and time of the month to buy a car—including timing for specific car types.
I’m going car shopping soon, and while I the idea of a new car, I’m not thrilled about having to deal with the buying process.
Whether you want that new car smell or are searching for the perfect used vehicle, you’re trying to balance your wants and needs with the potential cost.
Finding the right vehicle, getting your financing together, and shopping around for the best price are all a pain, but you can do almost all of them from the comfort of your home.
I find it strange that people will spend hours trying on clothes but not seriously try out the second most expensive purchase they make.
It’s paid off, which is great, but even routine maintenance now runs me a few hundred bucks, and the mechanic is always upselling me on additional repairs that are hundreds more dollars.
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For more than 300 people who stood in a chilly drizzle, waiting in a roped off line that snaked through the main courtyard of the mall, there was only one store that mattered – the Apple Store, which was among the shops ready in time for the grand opening.
Showrooming – the practice of visiting a store to research products and prices, but then buying the product online from another seller – was the big story last year.
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In this video series, John Nielsen, director of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair Network and Auto Buying Services, offers advice on buying a car.
Thanks to organizations such as Creative Commons, licenses such as the GNU Free Documentation License, and the public domain, there are tons of photos, songs, movies, and documents freely available for you to download and republish without fear of the copyright police.
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This hack points you to several of the best mashups that can help you adjust your commute home from work for traffic, decide where to live, help you find a nearby used car for sale, and figure out how far your jog across the bridge this morning really was.
The best feature of web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome is their openness: these browsers are built so that anyone can write a feature- adding extension for it.
Keyword searches are customizable, keyword-based searches that let you do just that: execute a search from your Firefox or Chrome address bar.
We recently reported about a dealership in NJ that was caught selling flooded cars to consumers without disclosing the damage.

When is the best time to buy products? Consumer Reports research has uncovered when the deepest discounts occur, month-by-month.
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The best time to buy most major appliances is during the months of September and October.

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