Well, we bought a car. I have done only two other car searches in my life. All of them have been for used cars. One was with my Dad when I was eighteen and the second was seven years ago. I can say with confidence, I HATE car shopping! Oh boy, did we see some clunkers!
Here is a few things I learned while searching for a used car:
1. Pay for the subscription to run checks on the vin numbers. This allowed use to see the history of the car, verify the mileage, check for any out-standing leans, and even see when the mileage was put on the car. The amount of information we got from doing this was well worth it and gave us signs of how the car was cared for.
2. Research the value of the car. We checked out the cars on KellyBlueBook.com and Edmunds.com to see if the asking price was fair for that car. We were also able to read reviews about the cars and see the gas mileage and various statistics for each kind of car.
3. Search Craigslist, newspapers, community sites, and talk to everyone. We had tried out dealers, but a really cheap car won’t make them much money. The dealer who do make money on cheap cars either make their money by selling cars they buy from auction untouched which can be in pretty bad shape or they make money on the loans. Some of the people who advertise on Craigslists maybe a business but not have a car lot. You can get the best deal on a good car when you are working with individuals or small business people.
4. Check everything you possible can on the car. This seems obvious, but once I was looking at the cars I felt weird doing this. Everyone, I think looks at the engine, I hope. Rust on the body of the car is also a bad sign, but so is a brake pedal that is worn down and holes in the seats. It is also interesting to see what people leave in the trunk of the car. It isn’t a good sign when tools for fixing the car are left in the car. It makes you wonder what they fixed and how recently.
5. Drive the car. We found out a ton just by driving the car. Testing the brakes, backing up, sharp turns, running the air-conditioner, testing the lights, the windshield wipers, and playing with every button one can find gives you a full picture of the condition of the car.
6. Just pick. At some point, we just needed to pick a car. The older and cheaper the car, the more problems you will have to accept. We made some priorities and then just decided that whatever problems came up after that we will just have to accept. One person told me that when you are buying a used car, you are buying problems. That’s true, but if you budget for that and make the best choice you can then all will hopefully turn out well.