How To Buy An Actually Reliable Safe Used Car

How To Buy An Actually Reliable Safe Used Car


Used cars are unreliable and cost a lot to repair, right? Well not when you know how to find and how to buy a quality one. Today, I’m going to walk you through the process step-by-step. (upbeat music) I need to drive a safe, reliable car. This is the common objection I hear time after time to justify someone buying a car that they simply can’t afford. In past Savvy Saturday videos, I’ve talked about the importance of having a quality independent mechanic you can trust, how to save big on tires, vehicle costs you need to be planning for, how to drive free cars for life, and why used cars are smarter. Cars certainly generate expenses, but it’s a myth, usually based on one or two bad experiences, that used cars cost more. By the way, make sure to check out those previous Savvy Saturday videos for more explanation on those topics, on my Savvy Saturday archive page. Today, I want to focus on the step-by-step process I’ve used to buy two different cars that have been a huge blessing to us. Included with this video, very important, are three downloadable checklists you can use while on your hunt for a quality used car. So let’s jump right in. First, understand your options. There are basically three options you have when it comes to buying a car. First, a dealer. This may include the dealer you already have heard of because they’re big and they do marketing, or it may simply mean that it’s a dealer who has set up shop in the old husk of a long-gone dealership and they’re operating a no-frills business, not really putting much effort into advertising. Secondly, a private dealer. This is usually a legal dealer, but they just don’t own a physical location. They may be one or two guys working together as a team, and they’re buying one or two cars at a time and turning them around one by one. And thirdly, a private party. This simply means you’re buying it from another citizen like yourself. They’re selling it by themselves, and they are not a dealer. Their car may or may not still be financed, so be sure to ask if they are the owner and have the title. Otherwise, it’s not impossible, by any means, to buy it from then, but you’ll need to be a little bit more careful, procedurally. I always buy, and recommend people buy, from a private party. There are multiple reasons for this, but one big one, is that dealers often charge what’s called a disposition fee. A disposition fee, is a monthly cost of doing business fee, of about $500 or more. They say it’s to cover registration, financing, and such, but when you buy a car for cash, which of course, I advocate, and are wanting to self-register your car, the dealer has yet to back down for me, for this fee. I just don’t need the extra hassle and extra cost. Registration, in my state, is $100 every two years. And I see no sense in paying an additional $400, or more, for the convenience and cost of doing business. When I’m paying cash, there’s no financing needed. Second, do your basic research. For example, I know that Hondas and Subarus are the most reliable on the market, and therefore, have the best resale value. That’s why they’re at the top of my list, when choosing my next car. That being said, they’re not all perfect. The best say to check this and easily narrow your field, is to pay for one month of Consumer Reports online. Keep in mind that it’s a recurring membership though, and be prepared to cancel it, once you’ve got, your new-to-you car. When looking at Consumer Reports, I don’t usually spend more than 10 minutes on research, because there is one main place I concentrate. Reliability History. This section of Consumer Reports is listed under the vehicle, rather than under a specific year of that vehicle. For example, the Honda CR-V. Like pictured here, for the CR-V, it gives you a great grid of 9 or 10 model years, with dozens of categories. With a quick glance, I can see that model years 2007 to 2010, have an issue with the climate system, but otherwise, it’s a great car. Because of that information, I bought our 2008 CR-V and negotiated the broken air compressor into the price, and then had it immediately replaced. Now, there are almost zero worries with the car, and I’ve done no major repairs, beyond wiper blades, and brakes and things like that, in the past two and a half years of ownership. Information is power. Third, make a list. I usually look on Craigslist and Autotrader, but my most recent car I found, believe it or not, on Facebook Marketplace. It’s actually less about where you’re looking and more about knowing what you’re looking for. More on that, in a second. Either way, dealers and private parties alike, will be present on all these platforms, so you’ll still have to weed through the options. As you find potential candidates, copy the URL of the listing, and paste it into a running list. Then, write underneath the URL in the list, a few key things. The year of the car, the make and model, if you aren’t only looking for a specific thing, like a Honda Civic, the current mileage, the price, what town it’s located in, and lastly, any unique identifiers you want to remember, such as, there’s no pictures in this post. The odometer has no picture to prove their claim. It’s a hybrid versus not. Or the sub-model, such as LX or EX, etc. This will save time when making a plan of attack for later steps, so you have a quick cheat sheet, and you don’t have to keep bouncing back and forth to each post. Fourth, reach out softly. Once you’ve got your list, start calling. If they didn’t include a phone number, I strongly recommend pushing to talk by phone. You can’t hear tone over text and it’s best to have a dialogue. If you must communicate over chat or message, then ask these questions specifically as detailed in the checklist. Either way, if they struggle, act impatient, or are unresponsive with these preliminary questions, that alone may tell you all you need about whether or not to pursue the next step with this car. These questions include, how long have you owned the car? Why are you selling the car? Has this car been in any accidents? And, does this car leak any fluids? Make sure to download the free worksheet for this, and the other checklist. There’s more to this than I can fit in a video, by far. Fifth, inspect thoroughly. Now that you’ve done your initial due diligence, it’s time to visit some cars. It’s critical that you invest the time into really checking out a car. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mechanic. The checklist I provided, will make sure you don’t miss anything. Expect, that if you complete this entire checklist, each car will take about 30 minutes or so, to inspect. Don’t let that overwhelm you, because the truth is, you may inspect 10 cars, and only finish the inspection with 2 or 3. It’s likely that you may walk up to a car, and after just the first few things, realize there’s no point in continuing. You may get halfway through, and find a glaring issue, and stop. It’s not going to take you as long as you think, I promise. Throughout this process, make sure to take pictures of anything of concern or note, and that includes a picture of the VIN number, so you can check the odometer for rollbacks. Here’s a small sampling of some of the things you can expect to check. Are fluids clean, and clear, and not dark? Are there any rips or tears in the seats? Inspect the trunk, is everything there and in its place? And then, have someone accelerate the car while you’re outside looking at the exhaust coming out. It should be clean and clear. Black means the engine’s burning too much gas, which hurts the fuel economy. Blue means the engine is burning oil as the oil’s getting past valve seals and piston rings and that’s a recipe for blowing your engine. White means the water is getting past the head gasket which is a major problem. This is just a fraction of the comprehensive list in the downloadable checklist. Make sure to utilize it. Sixth, take it to your mechanic. Now that you’ve done your layman’s inspection, if the vehicle’s still one you’re interested in, it’s time for this very important, last step, before arranging a sale. Having your mechanic inspect it. It is very important that you not buy a vehicle without having a mechanic you trust, inspect it. If buying from dealer, they will likely give you a temporary registration, take your license information, let you take it to the mechanic, and return it the same day. So make sure to plan ahead and clear your mechanic’s availability. If you’re buying it from a private party, this may be more difficult. They may have already taken it off the road, and it’s not registered anymore, so it can’t be legally driven. They also may not live close to your mechanic. With determination, it’s definitely possible to work around these obstacles. In one case, my mechanic was very close to the seller, but the car wasn’t registered. I was able to arrange with the seller, for them to get it to the mechanic themselves, and drop it off. My mechanic approved it with flying colors, and it’s been a great car ever since. In another case, the car we wanted was 45 minutes from our house, so there was no way our mechanic could inspect it. I went on Facebook, I found friends in that area who I’d known for years, and found a mechanic that they trusted to inspect if for us. It cost a small premium, but it was well worth the peace of mind, and professional inspection. Seven, close the deal. Now that you’ve researched it, shopped the market, inspected it and had your mechanic inspect it, it’s time to buy the car. Dealers will be very used to this process, especially since they’re charging more for the convenience. But you should still cross-check the process, and make sure they don’t screw something up. If buying from a private party, you should definitely assume the seller knows nothing, and do your due diligence. I’ve had both scenarios. The procedure differs a little bit from state to state, so definitely search your local DMV website for the step-by-step on buying a car. In my state, it’s very straightforward, but also very important you do things in a certain order. Some example are, agreeing one last time on the final price, exchanging money for keys in hand, making sure you get all copies of the keys, by the way, filling out basic paperwork such as DMV forms, and signing over the title from one party to the other. You then take the title and the paperwork to purgatory, I mean the DMV, to get everything officially changed over. This process is detailed in the final downloadable checklist in this week’s post. So make sure to grab it. One last note. Use cash whenever possible. There’s immediacy, and negotiation power, in cash. Plus, it’s a sobering reality for you, that you’re about to hand over thousands of dollars for your new-to-you vehicle. With this proven process in your toolbox, you’ll be driving a safe and reliable, new-to-you car, in no time. The path of financial freedom is the road less traveled, but it’s well worth the rewards. I hope you found this information helpful. Make sure to download my free ebook, The Money Finder, which helps you save in five major expense areas. And come join me in the Strong Together Money Community. It’s my free Facebook community designed to keep you focused, informed, and growing on your financial journey. Also, are you tired of paying that ridiculous cable bill but don’t know how to keep your content without it? Maybe you’ve even cut cable already, but you’re wondering if there’s a better option that could save you more, or even give you more options, without added cost. Check out my online course, Cable Cutting Academy, at www.cablecuttingacademy.com, for more information. It’s helped plenty of people find options, and savings, step-by-step. This has been Jeremy with Strength In Numbers, helping you find more money, to fund your dreams. (upbeat music)

About the Author: Michael Flood

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