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Old 11-21-2013, 03:35 PM
33,387 posts, read 34,950,446 times
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lots of good advice on how to buy a car. pre purchase inspections should be mandatory for you since you know little about cars to begin with, if the seller, even if it is a dealer, wont allow a ppi, walk away from the car, dont even bother looking back.

now as to the car itself, since you want to do some traveling, you are going to want something bigger than a compact car, but you dont need a full size sedan. the ford taurus, chevy malibu, and other midsized cars with a V6 engine are efficient and comfortable to drive, and have the power band you will want for traveling.

mileage in not important, condition is. you will find cars that have low mileage on them that are rubbish, and you will find cars with over 200k miles on them that are rather pristine. so dont go by mileage.

when you drive a prospective car, if there are things you dont like about the car during the test drive, DO NOT try to convince yourself that you will "get used to it", or that you will "learn to like it". the answer to that is no you wont, in fact you will really begin to hate the car itself because of the things you dont like. and i am not talking about niggling things like you dont like the location of the ashtray, or that the stereo is in a different place than you are used to. what i am talking about is the ride quality, the feel of the seats, the feel of the steering wheel, how the car feels accelerating and decelerating, etc.

once you have found a car that is acceptable to you, and everything passes muster, then check the title vin number against the vin number on the car. the one on the car should be visible in the drivers side of the windshield either in the lower corner of the dash, or on the a pillar. make sure the numbers match, if they dont, run away from the car as fast as you can. only after this checks out, then start to deal on the car. you should have plenty of ammunition to make a deal. take the price of the car and subtract out a reasonable amount for the cost of repairs, and make an offer, this will generally be about $6-800 less than the list price, and you should be able to get about $3-500 knocked off the prices listed depending on your negotiating skills.
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Old 11-21-2013, 03:38 PM
Location: Southeast, where else?
3,913 posts, read 5,245,074 times
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Originally Posted by dfoush21 View Post
So as you know I buying my first car and I don't have the slightest idea on the right car. I plan to do a little traveling across country next year, I also need it to get to and from school and work. But I don't know what model, make, nor year to look for. I've been browsing craigslist and I don't plan to spend more than $5,000 on a car. I'm going to bring either my step dad, grandfather, or uncles with me to look at cars, there not professionals but they know more than me about cars.

Should I buy a car who has over 100,000 miles on it? What are the basic things I need to check before buying a car? What other certifications do i need on the car besides having insurance? Do I need to take it to a Mechanic? What should I look out for when buying on craigslist? What other things do I have to pay for besides the car? (of course licenses plate, and registration) Do I have to get an inspection?

I would greatly appreciate the help thank you.
Buy a clean, 10 year old Toyota Camry or Honda Accord from someone for 4K, put 1K in reconditioning, move on...best move you can make....this thread is now closed as there is nothing else to talk about...
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Old 11-21-2013, 03:57 PM
Location: Cole neighborhood, Denver, CO
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Old 11-21-2013, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mandavaran View Post
Some will say you can't get a good car for 5,000 or less but that's not true. You just have to be careful to really check the car's condition inside and out. It's good you have some knowledgeable people to shop with you. Since you're looking on Craigslist, I'm guessing you will be buying from a private owner so here are some things to consider.

Ask questions over the phone before you go look at the car. It can save time and screen out cars that don't meet your criteria. Ask about mileage, condition, whether the car's been in any accidents or floods, whether the owner is the original owner. If you ask outright, most people will be honest. That's been my experience. If they fudge on the questions, or are hesitant on answering them, this could be a red flag.

Any car in this price range will have some problems but some things are worse than others so you will want to check things carefully.

When you go see the car, check the exterior thoroughly. Check the body for any signs of damage, dings, rust, scratches, paint or panel irregularities. Bring a flashlight and check underneath for signs of rust. Check the trunk for the spare and jack and for any signs of moisture infiltration. Check the interior's general condition. Check the floor and carpet for any signs of moisture. Check all doors to see if they open and close correctly. Check all power components like doors, windows, radios, AC, heater, defroster, headlights, blinker lights, to see if they work correctly. Check under the hood for general condition and watch for any signs of leakage for gas, anti-freeze or oil.

Then, start the car. Let it idle awhile, then check the exhaust for smoking and check underside again for leaking. Take it out on the road for a good test drive under all kinds of conditions. Don't just take it for a spin around the block. Get it on the highway and open it up. Drive it at highway speeds for awhile and continue to make sure all components work. Take it for in-town, stop and go driving so you can check the brakes and transmission.

When you get back to the starting point, check again for any leaks or smells such as gas or anti-freeze. If you like the car and it checks out OK, then make an offer somewhat lower than asking price and be prepared to negotiate.

It can't hurt to have a mechanic check it out. It likely won't cost too much. Ask specifically for him to check any signs of frame damage, accident repair or excessive rust.

As for the other issues, you might need an inspection to get the car tagged and titled. It depends on the state you live. After the purchase, you will get it insured for at least liability. Then, go to the DMV with the old title and they will charge sales tax and issue you a tag and registration and will process your new title and send it to you eventually. Some states have E-titles so if you have a lien, they may not send you the actual title until it's paid off.

Good luck and shop carefully.
Originally Posted by BrendanSWM View Post
Look for unpopular vehicles rather than traditional popular vehicles. You will get a better vehicle for your budget. Stay away form the hot brands of used cars especially Toyota and Honda. You will pay too much and not receive enough added advantage in exchange.

Total miles traveled are less important that how a vehicle was used and how well it was maintained. 100,000 miles is not a magic number after which something happens. Some cars are pretty well knackered by 90,000 while others are in mid life at 150,000. That is not determined b brand, but by usage and care. Some models will have greater longevity than others. Some are particularly trouble prone. However, even a 1994 Ford Taurus can go 180,000 miles with no problems despite most are done well before 80,000.

As far as what to check - check everything. Many things can be expected to be worn. Typically you will need new brakes, tyres, battery It is not uncommon to need a radiator, )2 sensor and a tie rod or CV joint. Those are all just a question of knowing the cost of replacement and negotiating your purchase accordingly. More important are the large dollar items like the engine, transmission or catalytic converter If your budget is $5000, you obviously need to avoid a vehicle that will soon need a $2000 repair.

Some brands (BMW for example) may need extremely expensive maintenance procedures at a certain number of miles. Be certain you know whether there is a costly maintenance procedure pending.

Yes. You should take it to a mechanic. If the seller does not permit this, move along to another choice. No matter what they say, or how much you like the car, if you cannot take it to a mechanic, do not buy it. You must choose the mechanic, not one recommended or selected by the seller.

When buying on Craigslist watch out for incredible deals. If a car seems really inexpensive for what it is, then it is likely salvage title or some form of trickery and even possibly an attempt to rob you or harm you personally. Meet people in very public very bus places. Never meet them at your home. Never go inside their home and never meet anyone in a secluded location. Bring someone with you who stays in your vehicle (but remains visible). Sometimes it is prudent to meet in the parking lot of a police station, but be certain to notify the policemen that you are doing so. When buying on Cragslist, do not accept as true any representation whatsoever. They may sya they are selling the car for an aging or deceased parent, sibling or aunt. This is usually untrue. Most of the time they bought the car to re-sell it at a profit. If a dealership tells you about the history of ownership of the vehicle, you are pretty much certain they are lying. Accept what you see before you and what you can verify through an independent mechanic selected by you. Assume all else is false.
Thanks I will definitely be using this advice.
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