Time to pick up a new ride, freshen up the wheels, replace that hole in the road you’ve been pouring money in to. But you’re not ready to buy a new rig just now, looking for a good deal in something used. A lot of folks just hate looking for and buying used cars but some people, me for example, love it! It’s not all that tough, though it can be time consuming, and can be a bit of fun. Here’s how to go about it:
The very first thing you have to do is figure out how much you’re going to spend. There’s no use checking out all the Porches out there if you’re working with a Miata budget. For that matter you don’t have to weed through all the rolling junk piles people have for sale if you have the ability to pick up something nice. If you have cash that’s great, but if you’ll need to finance, go get that arranged before you start shopping.
What is it you really need? OK, I want a WRX but I have two kids and a wife that like to go on camping trips. A coupe probably isn’t going to fill the bill. Or maybe I’m a single guy and I want the ladies to look my way when I drive by. A mini-van would probably be counter-productive to my aims. I thought about building a monster SUV that handled like a Corvette and got 40 miles to the gallon but the project got held up in development, something about physics not permitting this combination of features so the car never went into production. Until it does, think about what you actually do with your car.
You’ve got the kind of vehicle you need pretty much nailed down but everybody builds one. Mitsubishi, Ford, Suzuki, Chevrolet, Nissan, Dodge, Toyota and some obscure outfit out in the wilds of Siberia all make a model that sounds like what you need. Now it’s time to do your homework. You can’t (At least for now) fool the internet. There are reviews and tests of every car you can think of and a ton you’ve never heard of. Check out the models you’re interested in and see what other people thought about them. You’ll find that some will be trouble from the start, others pretty much OK and some will have stellar reviews. Guess which ones will be cheapest and which more expensive! Also guess which ones you’re most likely to love over the long term.
OK, you’ve pretty much decided on a Rusty Ivan diesel SUV from Sturmovic heavy iron works #3 in the Urals. Now you need to find one that’s in good shape at the price you decided to pay. There are a lot of good sources for used cars. I use Craigs List quite a bit but there’s also Ebay Motors, AutoTrader.com and others. I suggest you stay kinda close to home since you don’t want to drive 2 hours to check out a Rusty Ivan SUV that’s listed as a diesel only to find it’s an electric hybrid with a bad battery pack. While you can never be certain about the real condition of the vehicle you can get a pretty good idea how well the owner has taken care of it. Is it clean? Is the upholstery in good shape? Missing or broken knobs, handles, mirrors, trim pieces? If everything looks as though it’s been well cared for check the vehicle history via something like CarFax. That will at least let you know if it’s been in any major accidents, though you have to feel sorry for anyone who was unfortunate enough to have a collision with a Rusty Ivan SUV. Beware! Not all repair shops report to CarFax.
So far, it all checks out. Take it in to an independent shop to have it inspected. I’d suggest All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe due to their high degree of professionalism, not that I’m prejudice. A shop can get the vehicle on a lift to look for hidden damage. They can also provide you with a list of services the vehicle is due for, any that are upcoming and items that might need to be watched. You want the shop to be as objective and critical as they can. They won’t be able to see inside the engine or transmission but they’ll be able to at least get a feel for how well these are functioning.
Now it’s time to start negotiating a price with the owner. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS FIRST RULE: DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH THE CAR!!! If you just have to have this vehicle you may as well give the guy his asking price and drive away. Nobody lists a vehicle for the price he’s really willing to take, there’s always some wiggle room. Nitpick it a little but don’t be rude. If you did your homework you’ll know what people are asking for these cars and what they’re worth. A little conversation might help you find how badly he needs to be rid of it as well. I mean, who sells a perfectly good Rusty Ivan anyway? If the seller needs the money quickly you can use that to your advantage. It’s not being mean, it’s just business. You need a car, he needs money. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal isn’t right but be sure to leave your number in case there’s a change of heart.
Finally, close the deal. Shake hands and exchange title for money. I don’t know how they do it in other states but a signed and notarized title is all you need to give the MVD. Check the front of the title to see if there are any lien holders. That would mean that there is money owed against the vehicle and they need to sign off on the title as well. If this is the case don’t spend a lot of time hassling with it, go find another car. Title problems are a pain. Don’t ask me how I know.
OK, now it’s yours. Go play bumper tag on the freeway!
From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.