Love your articles on TTAC. Especially those on auctions, your dealership, and used cars.
I was wondering, do you provide services to buyers looking to buy a specific car? The prices in ATL are much better than the market in New England, to the point where I would be willing to fly down, buy a car and drive it back up. (I also have some friends in ATL anyway.)
If you do please let me know. I’ve been hunting for a decent priced NB Mazda Miata – and in my neck of the woods many are quite over priced.
If not no worries. I’ll continue to enjoy your articles.
Life is sometimes about extremes, and with the extreme life of buying and selling cars comes two cars, recently purchased by me, which easily represent the polar opposites of all things automotive.
The three year lease.
It entrances and traps the most spellbound car aficionados into a monthly payment that keeps them at the altar of the car payment.
Is that a bad thing? Well, depends on the way you want to look at it. What can’t be argued is that both sides get what they want, and after three years, that customer can choose to stay with the manufacturer or go somewhere else. To me at least, that seems like a fair bargain.
But what if the automaker could offer a better deal? For both parties?
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.