Buying a Car

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by yojitani, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    An octopus's garden
    #1
    Little history before you all think I'm a complete dummy:) : I lived almost all of my adult life using public transport until I moved to the US 2 years ago. I bought a car then, but I think I didn't get the best deal. Now, that car is a pain so I'm wanting to sell and get a new (used) one.

    So here are my questions: how should I go about getting a good deal on a car? What should I be looking for? Right now my concerns are warranty, mileage, condition. Also, big question for me right now, is it worthwhile buying into carfax or something like that to get auto reports? I know dealers will print a report out for you, but I tend to do a lot of my shopping on the web to save time wondering around car lots (and talking to sales people).

    I know these are basic questions, but I can't seem to get useful answers to them. Everyone I know in the US has grown up with the 'car culture' - for me it's a whole new world.

    Thanks!
    YT
     
  2. ezzie macrumors 68020

    ezzie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #2
    do you have any idea of what car you'd like? coupe, sedan?

    i'd point you toward hondas (especially the civic line) if you're looking for fair pricing, great gas mileage, and a good warranty...they also hold their value very well. as far as condition goes, that's why you should visit the cars on the lot. (i have a wonderful used 2001 civic sedan, so i'm a bit partial to hondas. :) )

    it's always good to go see the cars in person...and if the salespeople are bugging you, just tell them you'd prefer to just look around and you'll find them if you have any questions. that always works for me. :D

    when you go to check out the dealerships, have a definite number as far as what you can afford each month. do not look at a car that's way out of your price range. do not waiver. when you find a car you like, get all the info you can (including price), think it over for a day or two, find the value of the car here, and then go back. haggle if you must in order to get as close as possible to the price you can pay...if the salesperson won't budge and the price is still too high, don't be afraid to walk out the door. they may well call you back the next day and tell you they can sell you the car at the price you need. if they don't, it wasn't meant to be...keep looking.

    it's intimidating, but really you just have to be persistent and strong-willed. and never buy a car that you may not be able to afford!

    hope this helps you out a bit... :)
     
  3. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #3
    Note: I am not an experienced car-buyer. This is all just what I've gleaned from friends or whatnot who have bought used cars.

    Your major concerns being warranty, mileage, and condition, I think it might be simpler to look at dealerships as many will offer warranty and have guarantees for the cars' condition. That's not to say you have to initially go around from lot to lot-- a surprising number of dealerships will post their available used cars online (whether eBay, Craigslist, or even their own site).

    Do as you say you like to do-- shop around online to see the going prices. Check the Kelly Blue Book. Those are estimates for cars in their very best condition and you should never end up paying that much for a used car. Those figures are considered the ceiling price. Hope that helps a bit...

    If you're going to be looking at used cars that aren't from a more reputable place, as in dealing directly with the seller, then you might consider having a mechanic check out possible cars with you so that s/he can give you their opinion of the car's condition.

    And as always, when purchasing cars, negotiate. :p
     
  4. nateDEEZY macrumors 6502a

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    San Francisco, CA
    #4
  5. blitzkrieg79 macrumors 6502

    blitzkrieg79

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Location:
    currently USA
    #5
    What price range are you look for? What type of a vehicle will suit your needs? First thing I would do is check out websites such as www.cars.com or www.edmunds.com and set my sight on a group of cars and compare them, go on the message boards and see if there are any common problems reported with a given car.

    Then I would also check out insurance quotes for particular models (here where I live in NJ insurance cost are very high, probably highest in the country).

    Warranty wise, most car companies offer a 3year/36,000mile bumper to bumper (there are companies such as Hyundai, Mitsubishi, GM that offer 5 years bumper to bumper and 10year/100000mile powertrain warranty). Different companies have different policies.

    As far as reliability goes you can check out various reports also found on the above links. My preference is towards Japanese made cars although American companies definately improved their quality, I would stay away from anything European, not that reliable and repair costs are pretty high when warranty expires.

    As far as deal making is concerned, I guess you gotta learn how to bargain, do research, don't just settle on one dealership, because there are many of them and all of them want you to buy their product so they can get your money so you are at an advantage. Be patient.

    As far as CarFax reports, I guess if you don't trust what the dealer shows you, you can order them on your own but they are not free and not 100% accurate anyway.

    When buying new cars I would wait till the end of a given company fiscal year, thats when you can get the previous year models with big rebates as they wanna move their inventory.
     
  6. RugoseCone macrumors 6502

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    #6
  7. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    #7
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #8
    The best PRICE will be person-to-person sales. The best condition is really best obtained by (a) getting a CarFax report to ensure there haven't been any prior issues like flood damage claimed, and (b) having a mechanic check the vehicle out.

    Sites and books like Edmunds may be able to help. The game in dealership car sales is to play with the numbers for down payment, trade-in value, interest rate and price. If you do the math *every time they change the numbers*, and/or completely finance then a guide like Edmunds will keep you in the ballpark and your negotiating skills are what's left.

    Finally, if you have a friend who's used to the process, won't take any crap from a dealer, and understands how they play the game, that will help if you're set on buying from somewhere with some sort of warranty - though you probably could save the difference and self-warrant with the delta if you go to a private party.

    CarMax seems about the best used place, but they're priced appropriately.
     
  9. true777 macrumors 6502a

    true777

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Location:
    California, Austria, Arkansas
    #9
    I have used CarFax before, and it's been tremendously useful. I found out lots of things about used cars I was interested in, e.g., accidents that hadn't been mentioned, ODOMETER ROLLBACKS (very common), cars having been registered as rental cars before, etc.

    This information has helped me discard offers for problem cars, OR bargain for a much lower price if I still wanted that car. One time I walked in and told the guy "look, this has been a rental car before, AND the odometer has been rolled back about 10k miles, so I'm only willing to pay $2500 instead of the 3900 you ask", and he sold it to me on the spot for $2700.

    2.5 YEARS (and not a single repair) later I was still able to sell the same car for $2k.
     
  10. apfhex macrumors 68030

    apfhex

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    Northern California
    #10
    Then by all means try and get one through a dealership. Beleive me, I spent months looking for a good used car, and the one I ended up buying from the a local dealership, while more expensive with higher milage, is in far better condition than any used cars I saw. They really cleaned it and fixed it up nice — it was almost like new! (this is important to point out as it came with 100,000 miles on it :eek: ) I don't regret spending the extra money one bit.

    And definitely use Carfax, unless the dealer will provide you with a Carfax report for free.

    :eek: Ceiling?!?! I never saw used prices for as low as Bluebook. I considered their prices reasonable and what they should be, but unrealistically low for the actual prices I saw.
     
  11. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    #11
    Kelley Bluebook gives three prices: trade-in, private sale, and retail. Paying anything over the private sale price, even when dealing with a dealer, is paying too much.

    And to the OP, I also encourage you to look at insidercarsecrets.com. Also, while you should figure out what monthly payment you can afford, and what price that translates into, do not tell the dealer what your monthly budget is. ***Negotiate the price of the car, not the monthly payment****
     
  12. biturbomunkie macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Location:
    cali
    #12
    as other may have pointed out, edmunds.com's True Market Value (TMV) tends to show more accurate pricing information. it allows you to input variables such as mileage, options, color, zip code, etc.

    searching a particular automaker's enthusiast forum (i.e. audiworld.com, clubrsx.com), can give you valuable information such as reliability, differences/improvements between model years, etc. in addition, members of such forums can give you further pricing information as well.

    you will most probably find the best price from an individual party; however, dealerships tend to sell the cream of the pie. use carfax and/or bring a trusted mechanic along to check the vehicle. if you plan on financing, be sure to check your credit history and shop around for the best interest rate.
     
  13. yojitani thread starter macrumors 68000

    yojitani

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    An octopus's garden
    #13
    Thanks for all the advice thus far! This is a family car and my wife has a thing for SUV's :( . I actually prefer a sedan; something less gas hungry, but with kids, snow, and moving (we move a fair deal) I always lose the argument. SO, I think what we've narrowed down to because of price and warranty are Hyundai Santa Fe or Mitsubishi Outlander.

    We have a Mazda Tribute right now and frankly, it's a pos. In the last year alone I've spent 2,500 on repairs! ... From what I've calculated, we can afford a max of $15,000, but I want to spend less (of course!).

    Of course, we'd test drive etc. But I like to look around online and then hit dealers that have the vehicles we want.

    So, one thing I'm curious about: if a vehicle has low mileage, why is being an ex-rental a bad thing? I mean, if it's a point that I can use for negotiating, great, but does being an ex-rental void the warranty or something?

    Oh, also, so I've noticed that there are in fact a lot of ex-rentals for sale around here and the reports I've seen, they all seem to have been bought in Florida. Is this just because whichever rental company they're from is registered in florida (like Uhaul are all from Arizona, that kind of thing), or is there some legal loophole that makes Florida a good place for auctioning cars?

    Thanks!
    YT
     
  14. biturbomunkie macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Location:
    cali
    #14
    one bad thing that i can think of is that people who rented the car could have abused it. another concern is that some rental vehicles' were built without some standard equipments in order to minimize the cost of the fleet.

    but then again, an ex-rental could be a good deal. especially since most nation-wide rental car companies have their own car depots for regular maintenances.

    iirc, there is an article on edmunds.com in regards to buying a car from a rental company.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    The phrase "It's a rental" is the reckless driver's equivalent of the redneck "Hold my beer and watch THIS!" Many an adventure has been started with those three words- most of them dealing with off-road experiences, power slides, spurious downshifting, or going up mountains in ways you wouldn't consider if you owned it.
     
  16. blitzkrieg79 macrumors 6502

    blitzkrieg79

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Location:
    currently USA
    #16
    THing about rental cars is that even though it may have a low number of miles, it was driven by few people which have different driving habits which makes the car more stressed and potentially less reliable.

    As far as making a choice between the new Outlander or Santa Fe, my vote definately goes for the Outlander, very intuitive and well thought out car, although it will cost more than $20,000 but it is a better car for the money than the new CR-V, Rav4, or Santa Fe. Has a very well tuned engine for acceleration, fairly fuel efficient, nice clean dashboard, and it has a flap-fold tailgate. Besides, this car has been for sale in Japan for the past year and it is outselling the new Rav4, CR-V, and CX-7. Mitsubishi really did a nice job on it. But anyway, I guess you gotta test drive it but my vote goes for it.
     
  17. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #17
    if i were to buy a used car i would def. consider those certified pre-owned car .... if lexus/toyota inspects it rather then "Fred" at the local used car lot, i tend to feel a bit better...
     
  18. yojitani thread starter macrumors 68000

    yojitani

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    An octopus's garden
    #18
    Reviving an old thread... well, I'd gotten too busy to actually look for a car until a few days ago but the good thing is that I've narrowed down my choices somewhat. We've kind of got the RAV4 maybe a 2003, in mind, but finding a decent one out here is proving difficult. What's come out well though is the Toyota Matrix. However, one thing came to my attention today and I was wondering if anyone here had an opinion. The Matrix and the Pontiac Vibe are more or less the same car except that used Vibe's sell for about 2,000 less than the Toyota's. Are there any differences between these two? My wife prefers the Toyota for resale value (and the Toyota Certified warranty, which is pretty good), but I'm wondering whether the extra 2,000 is really justified.

    Thanks!
    YT
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #19
    Since they're essentially the same car (except the interior quality is different/better in the Toyota, and the Vibe's exterior "styling" looks slightly younger), I don't think it's worth an extra $2000 for the Toyota. Mechanically, they're the same.
     
  20. mustard macrumors 6502a

    mustard

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    NJ
    #20
    In my experience (father working for GM and grandfather owning a dealership).


    Since you are looking used - if you find a car on a dealer's (auto manufacturer dealer - back by an auto manufacturer GM, Ford, Honda, etc.) lot that you are interested in, check it out with a mechanic that you trust (shouldn't cost more than $150 but worth it for piece of mind). If you are still interested in the car after the inspection return to the dealer and clearly state that you are willing to pay no more than $500 over what they have into the car (trade in cost, taxes, any necessary repairs, etc. - ask to receipts and paper work) more often than not they will sell it to you on the spot, if not I wouldn't be surprised if you get a call from the salesman within the week saying ok. The only exception to the rule are rare or modified vehicles.

    Most high volume dealers would rather not hold on to a used vehicle for more than 30-60 day or less if it is a vehicle made by a competitors brand.
     
  21. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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    Feb 17, 2006
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    Clovis, California
    #21
    wow! People really get into these car buying threads. :D
     
  22. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #22
    Yeah, I agree. Back in the 90's my mom was looking at a used Silverado 2500HD Dually to tow a gooseneck horse trailer. Took it to a trusted mechanic. He found that the transmission was leaking transmission fluid and coolant. Pretty much the transmission was going. We ended up getting a new 1996 Suburban and getting a normal horse trailer. Never had a problem with it and so far the same story with its successor a 2002 Suburban. Unfortunately we didn't do it for a 2000 Grand Cherokee when we bought it from CarMax. Two months later the transmission started to act funny. Our local Chrysler/Jeep dealership said it was normal. Four months later the transmission went.

    For the price and warranty, have a look at GM. Right now, GM's vehicles have a crappy resale value and GM has extended its 5 year/100,000 mile warranty to used cars dating back to the 2002 MY. If you want a sedan, you can't beat the Impala when it comes to GM sedans before the new sedans in 2005. The Impala has the workhorse 3800 V6 which is bulletproof( unless you can find a good deal on a '06 Impala which has the 3500 VVT E85 capable or 3900 VVT V6). For an SUV/CUV, if you can find a good deal on a '06 Equinox or Torrent then that is the way to go. The '05 Equinox had a bit of first year problems. I have a '06 'Nox and it has been trouble free. But, if you want rest assured reliability for a used car and fuel economy, then I would go Honda.
     
  23. ErikCLDR macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2007
    #23
    Chrysler products have the worst transmissions. Everyone we know with a dodge/chrysler/jeep has had their transy replaced, in addition to their a/c system.

    I would go with a Honda too. IMO Pontiacs are tacky and Toyotas are boring.
     
  24. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #24
    Yeah, Chrysler doesn't have the best transmissions. It seems though GM's Hydra Matic and Allison transmissions are one of the best transmissions out there for reliability.

    Oh yeah, forgot to mention. The 5 year/100,000 mile warranty for GM vehicles is only the powertrain. For new Chevy's, Pontiacs, Saturn, and GMC it is still 3 years/36,000 mile bumper to bumper. For new Buick's, Cadillac, Saab, and Hummer is 5 years/ 50,000 mile bumper to bumper.

    Details about the new warranty

    http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46211
     
  25. Coolnat2004 macrumors 6502

    Coolnat2004

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    #25
    Heh, I have a Dodge with a Mitsubishi engine/transmission. I guess I lucked out.
     

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