Car salesmen call buyers like me, “squirrels.” It seems like whenever I buy a new car, I pull a handbrake 180 turn at the last moment and purchase a completely different vehicle than originally planned. Last week I was so close to buying a new Mustang GT with the Track Package that a friend at Ford was poised to set me up with an insider deal. The only problem was I seemed to have forgotten that this will not be my daily driver so why was I analyzing SYNC Packages, luggage space, resale value and the like?
I regrouped and asked myself two questions: which vehicle will have the soul of the two most fun cars I have ever owned, the 1994 Mazda RX-7 and the 1988 Honda CRX-Si? Why do I live in sunny San Diego and have never owned a convertible? The halogens went off in my head. As fate would have it, a dealer I know had just traded for the exact car I wanted. Say hello to my little yellow friend. (Read More…)
You often write about the importance of evaluating a car’s history before purchasing it. We all have access to Carfax and Autocheck reports, but what are some things on those reports that trigger your red flag?
Here are five red flags that always give me a sense of caution whenever investigating the history of a vehicle.
Good, Fast and Cheap.
Feel free to pick any two when it comes to all things cars. Consumer. Retailer. Rebuilder. Doesn’t matter. You always get a choice of two out of the three.
Don’t believe me?
Good. Cynicism is always a solid first step in buying any used vehicle. Whether you are kicking the tires at a lot as the end consumer. Or listening to the urgent chant of an auto auctioneer trying to sell the mediocre remnants of a rental fleet at a wholesale dealer auction. Everyone pretends to offer you a great deal.
But truth and reality in this business, at all levels of this business, are two very separate things.
Let’s take all those great deals I get from the auctions… good, fast and cheap. Sure. I do get them all. Just almost never in the same car.
When you have 120 dealers looking at the same exact car on a Monday morning, you have three options if you plan on buying a car.
After I saw a 2003 Infiniti FX35 with 220,558 miles sell for $9100 plus the auction fee, I left for good.
I must have been a kibbutznik
in a past life. Whenever I buy something of value, I never have the urge to keep it for myself.
Perhaps it’s due to too many bouts of suburbia. A neighborhood with twenty lawnmowers. Thirty The Lion King videos, and fifty to seventy vehicles. All this redundancy seems to be a bit much for a guy who hates to see things unused by my family 98+% of the time.
Yeah. I know that most folks aren’t willing to share their ride. Some won’t even loan you Simba. But if I lived in a place where we all put a smaller chunk of our change into a ride, I wouldn’t go cheap . . . except for possibly an old Volvo wagon.
These would be my top picks. All used of course!
In the olden days known as the late 20th century, an ancient artifact called a “newspaper” would be dropped by your front door.
Inside this mostly unrecycled piece of pulp was an automotive ”Classified” section. In better times, this magical list of thousands of vehicles would have offered car buyers an incurably acute case of acronymitis. “1994 Camry, ps, pw, a/c, auto, abs, 1 ownr! $5500 Ph#…”. A short three line list of minimalist communicado would have cost the seller about $50.00 and given them a secondary presence in a newspaper section that made millions for major publishers.
There was only one saving grace if you wanted to find cars for sale that offered big print, big pictures and big discounts. The new car advertising section… and there were two reasons for that.
[Editor's note: Part One of Steve Lang's updated guide to used car buying can be found here]
Schedule the test drive for a time when there’s no rush. If it’s bad weather, reschedule.
Take a little notebook, write a quick check list based on this article, and make notes.
The average Toyota Camry likely sells for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000.
What if you could buy a more durable version of that Camry for, say, $33k…. and get a bumper to bumper lifetime guarantee?
This 2009 BMW 535i has 45,000 miles and looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous. It offers nearly the same acceleration as a 550i, and far more space than the 335i, which is more sought after in the enthusiast world.
To me, if you’re a true keeper, all of this is good news. The better news? It’s a lemon!
Hi Sajeev and Steve, I’m looking to buy a new car in the next year or two. I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla CE with 35k on the clock. It’s a manual transmission, which is the only thing that’s kept me from going insane. When I bought it, I didn’t have much choice in the matter (time crunch) and the price and gas mileage (something like 41 mpg hwy, though I regularly get 35 mpg in stop and go traffic). It has been servicable, reliable (mostly), cheapish, and gas efficient. There is nothing wrong with it, other than it’s just kind of boring.
I’m looking for something a little more fun. I want something that is fun to drive, not just a machine to get from point A to point B. I used to have a fabulous 1991 Nissan 240SX SE Fastback (again, manual) that I loved. However, I moved to Phoenix and didn’t have the funds (because of the move) to take care of the things that it needed. I still regret selling it. So now I’m looking for:
[Editors note: TTAC's new car-buying column "New or Used?" wants to help you find the perfect car. Submit as much information about your car-buying scenario (needs, wants, budget) to email@example.com and TTAC's new and used car experts will get you started on your quest for the ideal conveyance.]
Almost Retired writes:
I’m nearing retirement age, and I want a nice large sedan. It should be safe, quiet, reliable and comfortable for freeway traveling, but not too flashy or expensive. $40k maximum budget, but I’d prefer to stay well under that.
Welcome to TTAC’s latest feature “New or Used?” In this series, your car-buying questions will become a battleground between the forces of the used-car market (as represented by our in-house auction specialist Steve Lang) and the new-car market (as represented by Mr Sajeev Mehta of Piston Slap fame). Send your automotive scenario to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let these skilled pundits for the new and used car markets battle it out for your business before handing the debate off to TTAC’s Best And Brightest. This week we have a hypothetical scenario to get things started, in which a young family finds itself in need of a lot more space. Will they be swayed to buy new or used? Let’s read on…