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Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’

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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