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Car buying advice

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Car buying advice

Unread postby motherscratcher » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:12 pm

I'm possibly in the market for a new (to me) car. Leaning toward going used this time. I've never bought a used car before. A few questions:

1. What's the best way to find a decent car used? I've been on cars.com and it seems like a pretty decent site to find a car.

2. How much bargaining room do you generally have with the asking price?

3. How close can I expect to get to the Kelly Blue Book trade in value on my current car?

Anything else the can help would be appreciated.

Thanks Mofos.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby FUDU » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:02 pm

More room to wiggle on used compared to new.

Ask for the CarFax, seriously.

Also ask if you can possibly have it for a few hours to drive around, doing your normal everyday things.

If there is a particular model you come across that you like, go home and do some research on common issues with that model. Then go back and talk about that model asking about those issues.

IE: The GM 3.1L was notorious for bad oil leaks at the intake, the fix was an improved gasket design. So if by chance you'd come across a model with that engine you'd want to know if the intake was done and when.

http://www.mdwholesale.com/Save_Big_On_Buying_A_Used_C.html
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby hebner20 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:21 pm

I would hesitate buying used from a private individual. Not much recourse if it turns out to be a lemon or blows up for any reason. They have no reputation to worry about or keeping a customer happy. A dealer has a reputation to worry about even if it is not their fault they might work with you. Plus they probably did some refurbishing before it went up for sale on their lot. You pay a little more for used on a lot but you get a little more too (New/Used Dealer not used only dealer).
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby CP » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:28 pm

Motherscratcher wrote:I'm possibly in the market for a new (to me) car. Leaning toward going used this time. I've never bought a used car before. A few questions:

1. What's the best way to find a decent car used? I've been on cars.com and it seems like a pretty decent site to find a car.

2. How much bargaining room do you generally have with the asking price?

3. How close can I expect to get to the Kelly Blue Book trade in value on my current car?

Anything else the can help would be appreciated.

Thanks Mofos.


As an attorney, I've helped a ton of family/friends through this...

1. You have to find a car you like. I'd start with a price range and body style and then don't hesitate to test-drive every car in that range that has the options you want.

2. and 3. kind of go together. Information on either side determines what you're going to pay. Either don't tell them you have a trade-in when you go in there or make it seem like that is the most important thing in the world until you get closer to the end of the negotiations and then bring up that you know what the online price.

Which brings me to my next point. The same dealership will have a number of different prices on a used car. There's the price that the sales guy quotes you, the price on their website, and usually a 3rd price on autotrader.com. No way I'd sign on the dotted line until you know you have the autotrader price (and I'd run some searches there to make sure you're paying at/below market for the same car with similar miles/options/etc.

Next thing... dealer is going to try to talk payment with you before they do anything. Do not fall for this. If they ask what payment you can afford, blow the question off. Tell them that you aren't worried about it and that you'll pay whatever is reasonable so long as you like the vehicle and you think the out-the-door price (including trade, sales price, etc) and interest rates are reasonable. Understanding how to get a good deal on a car means knowing where the dealer makes the money. Their income comes from two main sources: the difference between what they have in the car you're buying vs. what they're getting from you and the difference between what they are paying you for your trade and what they will get out of it. They also usually get paid something called "yield spread" by the bank to charge you a higher interest rate than the bank would normally be willing to give you (and unlike on mortgages where they have to disclose this, they don't have to do so on a car loan). They also make money in the various fees in the transaction (doc prep fee, etc).

You do best when you get information out of them about what you are paying on the deal faster than they get information from you on what you're going to pay. Also, don't let them pull your credit until you know the out-the-door price on the car. I usually won't give them any info until I know that price. Also doesn't hurt to have pre-approved financing from a bank or two before you go in (but don't tell them until you know the out-the-door price and they've quoted you an interest rate).

Lastly, remember that there are a million used cars out there and that there are usually a ton of the particular car you're looking to buy. So you can easily walk away from a deal and move on. The dealer has several pressure points where they try to make money; their goal is to maximize profit at every turn. Yours is to limit the damage.

And don't feel bad. They'll rip off enough people each month to even the score and you're helping them with volume numbers. Sorry for the length.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby motherscratcher » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:29 pm

I was planning on buying from a dealer. I don't know enough about cars to be able to feel comfortable buying from an individual, and I don't want to bother with a mechanic looking at it.

FUDU - will a dealer really let you have it for a few hours? Never heard of that, but it's a good idea.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby motherscratcher » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:34 pm

Dang counselor, thanks for the reply. Good info. That helps a lot. I have to digest that a little and think of any questions for you.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby FUDU » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:38 pm

Motherscratcher wrote:I was planning on buying from a dealer. I don't know enough about cars to be able to feel comfortable buying from an individual, and I don't want to bother with a mechanic looking at it.

FUDU - will a dealer really let you have it for a few hours? Never heard of that, but it's a good idea.

Some will let you have it for a day.

Also CP makes a good point about dealers making money on more than just the car they are selling you. They make money on financing and the sale of the trade in down the line.

Also expect the dealer to present their own 13,687 point inspection sheet, done of course by their own technicians. Pfft. Most places are flat rate, the tech gets paid a certain amount to do an inspection, less than his normal hourly rate I'm almost certain, they'll just check off the items on those sheets as fast as they can only really inspecting the big stuff many times.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby hebner20 » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:41 pm

Motherscratcher wrote:I was planning on buying from a dealer. I don't know enough about cars to be able to feel comfortable buying from an individual, and I don't want to bother with a mechanic looking at it.

FUDU - will a dealer really let you have it for a few hours? Never heard of that, but it's a good idea.



I have taken the car from the lot and to my mecahnic and had the car for two hours and they didn't flinch. it is fairly common. if they don't let you take it to your guy - go elsewhere.

never fall in love with a car and always be prepared to walk. if you are serious and they know it but you threaten to walk, and really mean it, they will try to work with you. You can't make a ridiculous offer and then threaten to walk but if you are close to what they want and they know you mean business they will blink first. I never buy anything else like an extended waranty,rustproofing etc.

i suggest you go in to negotiate in a pissed off mood. maybe right after a game like tonight's game. good luck.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby FUDU » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:44 pm

Good point about the extended warranty, just say no.

Even Puddy doesn't know what it is.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby CP » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:56 pm

Getting a good deal is almost like watching Chloe triangulate a cell phone signal on 24. You understand the sides of the deal and then whittle them away one at a time. It does take patience for the stupid game you are playing.

I usually take this approach when buying a car (used or new):

1) Determine my own price range.

2) Find what options/issues are musts. For instance, I drive so much for work that I wanted bluetooth and an iPod jack for mine. They were deal-breakers. I also had a limited tolerance on how old the car can be (anything more than 2 years old and you're going to get raped on the financing side) and how many miles were on it.

3) I'd search generally on makes and models until you get a list you feel you can work with. Find some dealers near you who have the cars you want (pricing is optional) so you can start test-driving them.

4) Follow FUDU's suggestions and get all the info you can to make sure it's worth your time to get the car. FYI, 99% of reputable dealers will actually post a PDF of the CarFax to their autotrader.com ad on the car.

5) Start researching financing and get pre-approved from your bank or credit union.

6) If you're trading in a vehicle, KNOW YOUR PAYOFF. You will screw yourself unintentionally here if you mess this up.

7) So you've got it narrowed down and have your pre-approval... It's time to go to a dealership. Know the price you're willing to pay out the door on the car, know how many of this make/model are close to you and available at other dealerships (this is good leverage later).

8) Get there, go right to the car you want and ask to test-drive it. You can act as enamored with it as you want, but don't give them anything relevant. Give up stupid information (what you do for a living, where you live, age, etc) but nothing about your finances.

9) If you like the car enough to go forward, don't hesitate to go inside. Now, this is where you have to be patient and steadfast. They get ZERO information from you (aside from maybe your driver's license) and you sign NOTHING until you know the numbers of the deal. What's the net price you are paying? You want this in writing.

10) Start attacking the deal. If you think you're getting the shaft on your trade, bring it up. Get them to add more to your trade. Once you have them set IN WRITING on your trade, then you bring up the fact that you know the price is cheaper on their autotrader ad. Demand that price.

11) If they meet your price, now you can let them pull your credit and start the financing process. If they come back with a deal, ask for details. If you have an iPhone or Droid, go find a free amortization schedule app. When they quote you payment terms, they literally inflate the interest rate to like 25-30% to soften the sticker shock as you continue on... When you get the numbers and the basic rate range (they will rarely tell you an exact rate), compare it (to yourself) to the pre-approval you have. If it's worse (which is likely), I'd tell them what you are pre-approved with a bank at a certain interest rate. Sometimes they'll match. If it's better, ask what bank it's with. I'd make some excuse to leave briefly (go grab a bite to eat to mull it over) and call the bank to check their rates and tell them what you were quoted. They will sometimes undercut the dealer.

FUDU gave you great (and much more brief) advice on the car itself; I am focusing on the process. It's a lot of work the first time but once you get through this once or twice, you won't dread the next time as much. If you're a masochist like me, you might enjoy it.

PS Don't ever, EVER, EVER let them make you believe they are losing money on a deal. They will actually (gasp) say no if they aren't going to make any money on the deal.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby motherscratcher » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:32 am

When you first start talking to someone and they inevitably ask "do you have a trade in?" what is the response?
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby waborat » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:31 am

Motherscratcher wrote:When you first start talking to someone and they inevitably ask "do you have a trade in?" what is the response?


Possibly or no...

Tell em you might sell it to a family member or something as they don't need to know that info yet...

Great stuff from CP & FUDU here
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby Fire Marshall Bill » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:50 am

have taken the car from the lot and to my mecahnic and had the car for two hours and they didn't flinch. it is fairly common. if they don't let you take it to your guy - go elsewhere.


This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

If they won't let you have it for a day to take to your mechanic for an inspection you're at the wrong place

Rule #2...they are ALL liars. Don't believe one freaking word of what they say

Just remember, too. Unless you personally know the seller, when you buy used you're just buying someone else's problem

There is no advantage in buying used to save money when repairs over the life of your ownership are taken into consideration vs 100,000 mile warranties that are now commonplace. Throw in the fact they're now including oil changes and IMO its a no-brainer.

You buy new and drive it till it dies or till you have enuff disposable income to treat yourself to another new one

If you want to save for the future, drive new for 10 yrs but continue to set aside the payment amount for repairs/retirement

In any event, if you paid me to go with you, you'd still save money :thumb up:
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby diminishingskills » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:35 am

Fire Marshall Bill wrote:Just remember, too. Unless you personally know the seller, when you buy used you're just buying someone else's problem.


FMB, this is the one line in this thread so far that I disagree with. I bought a used car about four years ago, and it has worked out great for me. Haven't had a single thing wrong with the car (aside from normal maintenance items), and paid a lot less than I would have for a comparable new car. YMMV, and apparently does. (I will say that I think your advice is more likely to be correct if buying a car with a lot of miles on it, because you know that things are going to go wrong at that point. In my case, the car I bought had 20K miles, so it was still pretty fresh.)

Anyway, lot of good advice in this thread. Bottom line is information. Go in knowing what car you want, what options you want, the fair market price for a car with those options, etc. If you don't know those items, you're not ready to buy. If you have a trade-in, know what the fair value is. If you are going to need to finance the purchase, know what current interest rates are. (I'd go so far as to get pre-approved from a lender, so that you have a financing option in your pocket when you walk into the dealership.) And don't let the dealer confuse all of those items together (as they will try to do). Good luck ...
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby FUDU » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:16 am

Also keep in mind that just b/c the guy/gal you are talking to is a car salesman it doesn't mean they know jack squat about cars, probably the other way around and they know very little about cars. They might know their product, options, payments, reviews etc but any one of us could learn that stuff in a week through the info the dealer provides when training their staff.

Knowing the cars themselves is where a technician/mechanic come into play.

Last thing, look into and ask about any demos that the staff has driven. I forget the exact details on how it works (CP sounds like he would know) but IIRC they are still sold as new b/c they were never titled, yet driven for months and are in fact in reality a used car due to use (b/c let's face it as mentioned above the second a car is driven off the lot and miles are put on it the car depreciates right, demos are driven off the lot everyday and miles are put on them). Who knows you might be able to use that angle and talk them into a used car price on a demo model. Unlikely but worth a shot I guess.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby Fire Marshall Bill » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:00 am

DiminishingSkills wrote:
Fire Marshall Bill wrote:Just remember, too. Unless you personally know the seller, when you buy used you're just buying someone else's problem.


FMB, this is the one line in this thread so far that I disagree with. I bought a used car about four years ago, and it has worked out great for me. Haven't had a single thing wrong with the car (aside from normal maintenance items), and paid a lot less than I would have for a comparable new car. YMMV, and apparently does. (I will say that I think your advice is more likely to be correct if buying a car with a lot of miles on it, because you know that things are going to go wrong at that point. In my case, the car I bought had 20K miles, so it was still pretty fresh.)

Anyway, lot of good advice in this thread. Bottom line is information. Go in knowing what car you want, what options you want, the fair market price for a car with those options, etc. If you don't know those items, you're not ready to buy. If you have a trade-in, know what the fair value is. If you are going to need to finance the purchase, know what current interest rates are. (I'd go so far as to get pre-approved from a lender, so that you have a financing option in your pocket when you walk into the dealership.) And don't let the dealer confuse all of those items together (as they will try to do). Good luck ...


Well, there's always exceptions but its still the rule,imo

What it comes down to then, is interest rates and length of loan, both of which are better buying new

He really needs to do some math before he leaves the house.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby CP » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:26 pm

FUDU wrote:Last thing, look into and ask about any demos that the staff has driven. I forget the exact details on how it works (CP sounds like he would know) but IIRC they are still sold as new b/c they were never titled, yet driven for months and are in fact in reality a used car due to use (b/c let's face it as mentioned above the second a car is driven off the lot and miles are put on it the car depreciates right, demos are driven off the lot everyday and miles are put on them). Who knows you might be able to use that angle and talk them into a used car price on a demo model. Unlikely but worth a shot I guess.


The mileage will be a dead giveaway. If they are trying to sell something as new with a bunch of miles on it, run away unless they are giving you the used car price. There is no shortage of new vehicles with no miles of every make and model at this point.

Sometimes a new car will have a decent amount of miles because it's being test-driven a lot. You may or may not want to move on from there if it has an unusual color/options package that you desire. Generally speaking, though, autotrader.com will be able to tell you exactly who has that car in stock and it's rare that no one will have that combination.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby GodHatesClevelandSport » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:17 pm

I just bought a used car a month ago. I researched online for a month before I zeroed in on what I wanted, which ended up being a used Ford Fusion.

I used Cleveland.com, cars.com, autotrader.com, Craigslist, and looked at dealer sites. Usually on the sites the ads for each car will have a CarFax link. You can even plug the car's mileage in to the CarFax listing to get an updated value.

I actually found the car I bought on Craiglist first, but it was listed on Cleveland.com.

Used Fusions are going for 1,500-2K under KBB value. I got mine closer to 3K under, and that was based on the ad price. Must be a glut of them on the market, but it's a great car and everyone I know with one loves it.

So spend time doing your prep work online. I even visited the dealer on a day it was closed to look at the car.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby TouchEmAllTime » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:21 pm

Motherscratcher wrote:I'm possibly in the market for a new (to me) car. Leaning toward going used this time. I've never bought a used car before. A few questions:

1. What's the best way to find a decent car used? I've been on cars.com and it seems like a pretty decent site to find a car.

2. How much bargaining room do you generally have with the asking price?

3. How close can I expect to get to the Kelly Blue Book trade in value on my current car?

Anything else the can help would be appreciated.

Thanks Mofos.


1. Autotrader.com, craig's list (some dealers post on there), Drive Magazine.

2. Usually there is always bargain room, more than you might realize, especially if you can pay cash or have a nice down payment.

3. Most dealers look up what they are doing at the block, Kelly Blue Book kinda goes out the window on trade ins.
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Re: Car buying advice

Unread postby Indyan » Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:43 pm

TouchEmAllTime wrote:3. Most dealers look up what they are doing at the block, Kelly Blue Book kinda goes out the window on trade ins.

This++ Dealers and auto finance companies have a "black book" which gives wholesale auction rates which trend a couple grand or more below KBB. I've seen many dealers brag about deals "at or below Blue Book prices!". Naturally, people think they're getting a deal and will drive off the lot with little to no negotiation. Instead, the dealer just made a few grand on the car with little effort.

Also, the "4-square work sheet" from this article sums things nicely. Keep in mind that if you win or eliminate some of these squares (eg bring your own financing, no trade in), they will play more hardball in the other areas.

As others have said, before you go buying think about what you really can afford to pay, what features are important to you, and remember that there will always be another deal.
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