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Posts Tagged ‘make’

After I had learned to identify scams on Craigslist, I got to work researching real potential cars.  I grabbed a scribble pad from the dollar store, a gel pen, and started listing cars that at first glance looked good.  I put the Year, Make, and Model as a heading for each entry.  To the side I wrote the phone number of the owner, as listed on Craigslist.  Below the heading I put the cost, and then below that the mileage.  After that I went to my Edmunds.com appraisal site and listed the MPG and the Consumer Rating.  Then I did the appraisal and wrote that amount at the bottom.  A lot of people want hundreds of dollars more than their car is worth.  I feel sorry for them.

 

I searched mostly Nissan Maximas and Altimas, Toyota Camrys and Corollas, and VW Jettas (a friend has one).  Several friends told me they are happy with their Hondas, but that brand tended to be slightly above my price range.  Toyotas and Nissans are better deals.  One big thing to me is the gas mileage. I’m a good driver and can get the upper end of the range of fuel efficiency, but if a little Ford Taurus will get me 19 mpg while a similarly priced Nissan is nearer 29 mpg, I’m ruling out the Ford.  Different years of car get different mileage, so I have to pay attention.

 

I narrowed my list down to the best deals (runs well, new tires, maintenance records on hand, no accidents) and did a little more research on those models, reading through the Consumer Reviews on Edmunds.com, and editor reviews if there were any.  From the editor reviews I learned what to watch out for on a test drive (turn radius, blind spots).  And the Consumer Reviews let me know first, whether the higher ratings are for looks or for reliability and fuel efficiency; second, they told me what tends to go out, and at what mileage.  Were repairs frequent or expensive?  That way I could see if those repairs had been made recently to my potential cars.  You have to use a critical reading of the Reviews to get good information out of them.  Some vehicles reviewed were not well maintained, or the mechanics were not good.  Other people complain whenever a vehicle needs a repair.  A car at 100,000 miles is going to need a major fix or two.  My Saturn cost me about $700 in repairs every year, so if I can get better than that, I’ll be happy.  Finally, some people complain about performance (like they wanted a race car or a truck instead) and about little things breaking (having to slam the trunk lid, or rattles on the inside).  I’m not picky about those.

 

Next I took the initial steps of contacting the owners of the cars that survived my research.  I looked especially to get the VIN #’s, and for information about exact model (is it an LE, an SE, a GXE? – and what on earth do those mean anyway?) as well as to confirm that mechanical condition is good (especially, with the mileage I was looking at: near 100,000, for the engine and transmission).  Due to schedule constraints I was unable to set up test drives right away, so I contented myself with requests for more information, resigned to the possibility that a good deal might not be available by the time I was.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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I took my pretty gold Saturn to a mechanic when I got the chance a few months ago.  Its engine had been idling rough, especially at stoplights, and burning through more oil than was its wont.  But the mechanic had bad news.  I have worn out my engine.  The only fix is to rebuild the engine, costing about twice what my car is worth.  So far my car still runs, but will get gradually worse.  Being a busy young woman, who sometimes travels an hour or two from home by herself, I decided that I need a car more reliable than that.

When I finally had time, I started my search.  The websites I used when I bought my first car 6 years ago now have a limited supply.  Even Ebay seemed to be home of the pricier cars.  A $5000 budget seemed reasonable to get a decent car, since that is what I paid for my first car.  So my first day of searching yielded few results.  I kept my eyes peeled for “Sale” signs in the back of car windows and on the side of the road.

Last time I bought a car, the dealer showed me cars above the budget I told him, and didn’t tell me the price until I had already test driven it.  Then he lied to someone else on the phone, right in front of me.  I haggled him to a fair value for my car, had a horrible time getting the windshield replaced (and it still leaks), and had to buy new tires.  So I decided to buy a car from a private party from now on.  Hopefully a better deal and less lies.

A friend reminded me that now most people find their cars on Craigslist.  I’ve never bought or sold anything off of Craigslist.  I looked over my mom’s shoulder at it once.  Not that I was opposed; I just had no reason to use that site.  But I jumped on, used their limited search capacities in the category of Cars and Trucks for Sale by Owner, and got a list of cars in the metro area for sale.  I took my limited knowledge of reliable cars and began narrowing my search, mostly based on mileage and age of the car.  I was looking for something under 100,000 miles that would be in good enough shape to maintain for another 70 to 100 thousand more.

Edmunds.com is a great resource for buying a car.  They have guides to buying a used car, including what information to ask, what to check during a test drive, how to complete a sale, appraisals, and model reviews.  They also have the TCO, True Cost to Own, for more recent models.  So I pulled up a couple of Edmunds.com windows.  First thing was to pull up the sheet for the year and model car that looked interesting.  Then on the right hand side they have an estimated gas mileage below a consumer rating on a scale of 1 to 10.  If the gas mileage and rating didn’t seem too low, I proceeded to appraising the car for sale.

Most important information is the year, make, model, and mileage.  Without that information, I didn’t even bother to research the car.  But the appraisal also factors color, condition, as well as features like air conditioning, power windows, sunroofs, spoilers, and automatic transmissions.  After you click all the information you have on the car, you enter your zip code, and go forward with the appraisal.  Then there are three prices.  The first is Trade-In value, always the lowest.  Next is Private Party – the price I was comparing, and finally was Dealership price.  These prices are different from the Kelley Blue Book.  I aimed to find a car within a couple hundred of the appraisal value I found on Edmunds.com.

One important thing to note: Many listings for cars do not have the exact model of car they are selling.  For example, an Altima comes in SE, GXE, GLE, and probably a few others.  The listing on Edmund’s is in alphabetical order, and usually separates manual from automatic and 2-door, 4-door, and wagon.  If you don’t know the exact model, go for the “base model,” usually an S or SE.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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