We’ve heard the question asked hundreds of times: “I’m buying a car. What questions should I ask?”
The answer is different depending on where you intend to buy your car — used car from an individual seller, used car from a dealer, or new car from a dealer.
Let’s look at each situation.
Questions when buying a used car from an individual
Important questions to ask when buying a car from a private seller:
- What is the car’s make, model, year, and mileage?
- Are you the original owner?
- Has the car ever been wrecked or seriously damaged?
- What problems does the car have now?
- Have you made recent repairs? For what?
- How does it drive?
- Are you the owner of the vehicle?
- Do you have the title?
- Is yours the name on the title?
- May I see the title?
- May I test drive the car?
- May I have my own mechanic check it out?
Continue reading What to Ask When Buying a Car
Car Seller Advertises a Car Online – You Buy – Your Money Disappears and You Get No Car
[ If you are selling a used car and suspect a scam by a potential buyer, see our article, Car Buyer Scam ]
How the car selling scam works
It’s a common scam. Here’s how it works.
You find a car being advertised online on Craigslist, Autotrader, or other online classified ad web site. You like the car. You want it. The picture of the car is beautiful, the description is wonderful, and the price is unbelievably low.
You contact the “seller” who emails you details about the car and why it’s being sold so cheap.
By the way, the “seller” often has a woman’s name, which is intended to make him seem more trustworthy.
The seller (scammer) goes to great length to tell the story of his/her personal situation, a spouse’s death, a military deployment, or other reason why he/she is selling. they explain how they are in a remote location (often military) with no phone, why the car is being sold at such a low price, how it will be “shipped” to you at no cost, and how your money will be “protected” by eBay, PayPal, or Amazon while you inspect the car, and that you can return it at no cost if you don’t like it.
Continue reading Car Seller Scam Explained
Public Car Auctions, Government Auctions, Police Auctions, Repo Auctions, and Salvage Auctions
Car buyers who are looking for cheap cars often overlook public car auctions, or dismiss them because they think the auctions are only for car dealers.
It’s true that there are dealer-only auctions, but there are also many car auctions open to the public that provide an opportunity to pick up good used cars for good prices — if you know where to look and know how the auction process works.
What kinds of car auctions are open to the public?
- Public wholesale car auctions
- Government surplus auctions
- Police and law enforcement seized car auctions
- Unclaimed and abandoned vehicle auctions
- Repossessed vehicle auctions
- Salvage vehicle auctions
- Public wholesale auctions
Continue reading Car Auctions for Good Cheap Cars
Question: Should I buy this car?
This is a common question and is often asked when inexperienced buyers are considering a used car they have found for sale either from a dealer or individual seller.
We see this question frequently on automotive question-and-answer web sites on which we participate.
However, when the question is presented, it typically doesn’t contain enough information to allow a knowledgeable answer, which indicates that the asker doesn’t have sufficient experience to evaluate a car purchase for themselves.
The person asking the question might simply provide the make, model, and year of the vehicle. — and maybe the mileage.
They leave out important factors such as asking price, market value of the vehicle (from kbb.com and nadaguides.com), Carfax report information (accident and repair reports, number of owners, mileage stages), title status (clean, lien, salvage, rebuilt), or condition.
Continue reading Should I Buy This Car?
What car is ideal for teen drivers?
Ask a teenager what car they want and then ask their parents what car they prefer for their child. You can get some pretty different answers. However, you just might get some surprising agreements too.
We hear teens asking the same questions over and over again. “Which is the best car for me?”, “What car should I get?”, “What is the best car for a first-time buyer?”, and “Which car has the best reliability-safety-style-performance-gas mileage-cost?”
We will try to help answer those questions here in this article.
Continue reading Best Car for Teenagers? Explained
Cheap Cars – Where to Find and How to Buy
To some people, a good cheap car is one that costs less than $10,000.
To others, an inexpensive used car may be one that costs $2000 or less.
We’ll tell you how and where to find the car you need, at the price you want, regardless of your price objective or budget.
Cheap car tips
Usually, but not always, buying a cheap car means finding an older used car– a second hand car – possibly with high mileage. Unfortunately, the older a car, the greater the possibility for serious problems and expenses that were not anticipated. Exceptions can be found of course and, with a little effort, good “oldies” can be found at bargain prices.
Most used cars are sold “as is” and come with no warranties or guarantees. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly inspect any car you intend to buy, and not take the word of the seller about the car’s condition. Also get a Carfax® or AutoCheck® vehicle history report. If problems are found after the sale, you will not be able to return the car and get your money back, even if the seller deceived you.
Continue reading Where to Find Cheap Used Cars?
How to Find Used Car Prices and Negotiate Best Deals
Buyers and sellers of used cars often wonder how prices and values are determined. How are values of used cars set? Who sets values? Are the values reliable?
If you are a buyer, is the seller’s asking price being fair? Are you paying too much? Can you talk the seller down on his price? What price should you offer without being unreasonable? What if the seller doesn’t accept your price?
If you are a seller, how much should you ask for your car? How do you determine used car values? What is a fair price to ask? Should you set a higher asking price to allow room for negotiation?
These are all common questions. Let’s try to answer them here.
Used car prices are not an exact science
We all know that a brand new car’s value begins to depreciate as soon as it’s driven off the dealer’s lot, often as much as 20% of MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price – sticker price).
Continue reading Used Car Prices – Pricing and Negotiating
Best Places to Find Used Cars Online
One of the best — and easiest — places to find cars for sale is online — on web sites that specialize in listing pre-owned vehicles.
Online used car web sites fall into three categories: 1) Non-dealer sites that sell cars listed by private sellers, 2) sites that only sell dealer cars, or 3) those that sell cars listed by both.
Actually, many of the so-called non-dealer sites actually have dealer cars, thinly disguised as private-seller cars.
Web sites with Cars from Private-Party Individual Sellers
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of classified-ad web sites that advertise used cars for sale by individuals. Here are reviews of some of the most popular sites:
Continue reading Best Used Car Web Sites – Recommendations
Is It Smart to Buy a Car with High Mileage? Good or Bad?
When shopping for a used car, you might find a car you like that appears to be in great condition but has what seems to be high mileage.
Since about 15,000 miles a years is average for most cars, anything significantly more than that is considered high mileage. So, for a car that is, say, 6 years old, it should have about 90,000 miles to be considered as “average.”
However, just because a car has an average number of miles — or less — doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. It could easily have serious problems if it has been driven roughly and not properly maintained, or has been wrecked and poorly repaired.
Continue reading High Mileage Car – Good or Bad?
How much car can I afford to buy?
Based on my monthly income, can I afford the car I want?
This is a common question but doesn’t have a set answer.
The answer depends on the following factors, assuming you will use an auto loan to pay for your vehicle:
- price of the vehicle, including tax and other costs
- cost of full-coverage insurance, as required by your lender
- your monthly income, after taxes
- your monthly expenses
- your credit score (affects the amount you can borrow)
- the amount of down payment you can afford
Some experts say that your car payments shouldn’t be more than 20% of your take-home pay. Others are more conservative and say 10%.
Continue reading Can I afford this car? What car can I afford?