Thursday, October 30th, 2014

How To: Buy A New or Used Car

Last week I had spied an article in the local paper about a couple that had purchased a used vehicle from a person from what I can only assume had advertised it in a newspaper or some social media site.

Fortunately for them the writer of this article was able to help them in getting some sort of help with their plight. This article is meant to give the general public some sort of guide lines for the “art” of buying a new or new to you vehicle.

Here lies the “GOLDEN RULES OF ENGAGEMENT”. First a vehicle or anything you are contemplating buying or selling is “worth” is only as much as someone is willing to pay for it. This means that all of those on-line sites that give you your car’s worth can give you a guideline but they are not gospel. Also remember that their income is generated by “hits” so the more attractive they make their quotes, the more “hits” that they get and thus more income for them.

Never buy a vehicle under duress.
This means that if your present vehicle needs a large amount of work or if you are worried that the repairs are going to be more than the vehicle is “worth” ask yourself this question. Were you in the market for a new or different vehicle a week before this repair came up? If the answer is no then this is not the time to be shopping for a replacement vehicle as there is just too much pressure on you to make quick decisions without searching out all of your options. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people are willing to spend $7,000.00 to $30,000.00 for a different vehicle rather than to spend $2,000.00 on a vehicle that they were perfectly happy with before.

Buying a new car is easier, usually it is a conscience decision and it can be a fun and exciting experience. Here are my own personal hints on how to buy a new vehicle.

First: Play the field, look at all vehicles that “trip your trigger”, a Sunday afternoon is a good time to survey different dealerships without having to deal with a salesman.

Second: Be aware of the price! If you cannot pay for a vehicle in a three or four year period you are in the wrong price range.

Third: When you find that vehicle or vehicles, rent one for at least a week and use it every day. This is the best way to be sure that the car fits you and not the other way around.

Fourth: Find a dealership that lists the selling price on the vehicle, this lets you concentrate on important issues such as insurance, options, special financing rates without having to negotiate the sticker price.

Fifth: If you are going to use your old vehicle as a trade in, know exactly what it is worth on the open market. Use multiple appraisal sites and average them out, call the local lending institutions and ask what their guideline are to finance your older car and finally scour the newspaper ads and see what similar vehicles are selling for and lastly ask the salesman what the ACV (actual cash value) is for the vehicle that your are going to trade in.

If you are looking at a previously loved vehicle the list is a little longer.
First: Make sure that the seller has a clear and clean title. If a title has the words “salvage or rebuilt”, that means that the vehicle was totaled and should be thoroughly investigated. Insurance companies have been known to total vehicles for cosmetic reasons after windstorms or hurricanes, but as I said be very careful, especially if it came from out of state.

Second: Get a Car Fax! Do not use the free version as it is useless, pay for the detailed report. If you are looking at multiple vehicles they offer a bulk package where you can get multiple reports for a single fee.

Third: Do not hesitate to ask for the vehicles service records. If you are buying the vehicle from a used car lot, run the VIN number to check for TSB’s, or Recalls, and sometimes little tidbits of information pop up that is not invading anyone’s privacy. Look for oil stickers and see where the vehicle had been serviced last and call them. A good service facility will usually call the previous owners and get their permission to release their records.

Fourth: Have the vehicle inspected by your service facility. A good inspection should take at least one to two hours. Make sure that measurements of brake thickness, tire tread depth, rotor thickness, and alignment concerns are notated prominently. Of course belt and hoses conditions and fluid conditions are important, as well as all accessory operations are working. Expect to pay for this inspection.

Fifth: Remember that you are buying a USED vehicle and some wear and tear is to be expected. Due diligence is required at this point to ascertain what major maintenance schedules will become due in the near future. For example if you are buying most any four or six cylinder vehicle with between 90,000 and 105,000 miles on it a timing belt is in the near future as well as belts and hoses and a water pump. Vehicles in the 50,000 mile range are due for many fluid flushes. These costs must be incorporated in the negotiating price so that you can arrange your budgeting.

If you have any questions or cannot find some of this information please do not hesitate to contact us for help.

Our guess the weight of the pumpkin and free brakes campaign will end tomorrow.


Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services