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Posts Tagged ‘used car’

That night I called on a car I’d had my eye on for a while, but which I knew had been through several showings earlier in the week.  He told me the car had not been sold, and agreed to schedule a test drive for the next afternoon.  I got my mom to join me on this test drive, male members of the family being at work.  We met a colorful Indian man who showed us his gold Nissan Altima, the same age as my car, but with less miles and much better maintenance history.  He was asking right at market value.  Except for some very minor hail damage, the car was in great shape.  I’d checked the VIN to make sure everything was clear.  The story went that the car had been owned by only one elderly gentleman since it was made, until a couple months ago when the Indian man bought it.  But the Indian found another car he liked better and was now interested in selling this one.

 

The Altima tends to have trouble with the CV joints, something to do with the wheels and axels.  But the owner had just paid to have that fixed.  Plus there was a new alternator, front tires, and air filter.  Altima’s use timing chains instead of timing belts.  They are much more durable, fairly easy to replace, and thus, inexpensive.  Really the cars have a reputation for being very reliable mechanically.  When we test drove it there was a bit of a squeak when we went over bumps, nothing too annoying or worrisome.  I left the test drive fairly certain I would buy that car.

 

That night I called to schedule a pre-purchase inspection of the car with my mechanic.  It was quite stressful, as I felt like I was putting the owner out, and trying to coordinate between my mom and I and the owner and the mechanic.  Plus Mom was babysitting, and I needed to talk to someone interested in buying my old car.  But I straightened my back and marched forward.  Took the car and the owner to my mechanic (a recommendation from a friend, but a shop very close to my house), who told me the car checked out.  So we drove back to the owner’s apartment, and completed the transaction.

 

To buy a car privately in Colorado, you have to sign the Title, put the new owners address on the back of the title, and record the Odometer Reading at the date of purchase.  Plus you need a bill of sale with the date, seller’s name, buyer’s name, signatures from both, amount of sale, and VIN # for the car as well as the year, make, and model.  While I wrote out those things, the owner counted the cash.  We shook hands.  He got his plates.  And I drove my new car home, with proof of insurance and the bill of sale on hand, while my mom drove my old car back home.

 

The day I bought my car was Veteran’s Day, a government holiday, so I couldn’t apply for temporary tags right away.  Instead I parked my new car in the garage and began the transfer of items from my old car to the new.  (In my car I keep coats and blankets and a Bible, pro-life literature, tracts, grape juice, a footstool, hats, gloves, cleaning supplies, a spare pair of clothes, maps, mall directories, a camera, and batteries as well as a cell phone charger and garage door opener.)  The new car just barely fits in the garage, as it is longer and wider than my old one.  However, it is set up much the same inside so that driving it is still rather intuitive.  The Altima does not have a sunroof, which makes me sad and inspires all sorts of improvisations like taping a picture of the sky onto the inside of the roof.  Yeah.  I’m that weird.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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On a Tuesday morning, I nervously picked up my phone to schedule a test drive of a 2003 Dodge Neon.  It just so happens that our first snowstorm of the season blew in that day.  We agreed to meet at a gas station between our two houses, since it would be after sundown and they have good lights.  I got my dad and my brother to go with me.  (I’m the research end, and the transaction I handle on my own, but I really don’t know much about cars or what to look for on a test drive.  Plus, with a big decision like this, I want at least another opinion on whether the car is good or not.)

 

We had an adventure.  First, I had the wrong intersection for the gas station.  Next, the gas station had changed brands, but we were pretty sure we were in the right place.  We parked and got out, looking for the car.  But he wasn’t there yet.  The snow was falling hard.  Also in the gas station parking lot were three police cars and one police SUV.  While we were waiting, a fire truck and ambulance arrived, lights flashing.  The police then put a man, hands cuffed behind his back, into the back seat of one of the cars.  A woman a few pumps over stood clapping her hands.  I huddled against the front of the quick stop.  Then the EMT’s put another man in a neck collar, and laid him on a stretcher to put him in their ambulance.  We can only speculate a fight broke out and one man assaulted another.  I don’t know why.

 

My family and I looked awfully suspicious standing there watching the whole scene, outside, puffing warm breath on our cold hands.  We were still waiting for the Dodge owner to come when a tow-truck came in to take away the offender’s vehicle.

 

Finally, the Dodge Neon arrived and we began our inspection.  There were no bells or whistles, not even power locks.  But the car was clean, with only 79,000 miles on it.  He wanted $3800, which according to my research was pretty close to appraisal value.  There’s a fine balance to reach between new cars and old.  The newer ones have a lot of computerized things that cause weird problems mechanics don’t understand.  But they also have less parts likely to wear out soon.  (Even if I replaced the engine on my Saturn, it’s quite likely something else will go out and cost more expensive repairs.)  When I drove the Neon, it handled ok, in the snow, but actually seemed to weave a bit.  Plus my brother said the tires were wearing out.  So I mentally added the price of tires to the sale price.  I like power locks.  Power windows I don’t like all that much; Mom says manual windows are safer (and cause less problems if the motors or electrical system in the door go haywire).  Still, the car was clean and relatively new.

 

I asked the owner if I could take it to my mechanic the next morning.  He said as long as he was there, too, that would be fine.  I could text him with the address and he would meet me there.  But that night I asked my dad, who said that the car wasn’t that impressive.  Plus I did the appraisal again, knowing the car was only the base model, and found out the car is actually worth about $600 less than what the owner was asking.  So instead of texting him an address, I texted him that I declined.  He responded that I could have haggled, but offering someone $600 less than asking price is a little more confrontation than I was looking for.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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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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My search on Craigslist for a used car for sale from a private seller soon yielded some exciting results.  When I compared the listed cars to the appraisal value, they were selling for way under market value, by thousands of dollars.  According to the listings, these couple cars had low mileage, were about 6 or 7 years old, good brands, and had some nice features.  I wondered what was wrong with them.  Still, not wanting to pass up a possible good deal, I sent out emails asking for more information.  My number one question is the VIN #, by which you can purchase a vehicle history report through CarFax.com or AutoCheck.com.  AutoCheck’s unlimited subscription was cheaper than Carfax’s, so I went with them.  It was about $45.

 

One woman emailed back, explaining that she was about to ship out to Afghanistan, and so needed to ship the car quickly.  She included a link to more information about the car, including a list of features, and the VIN.  But her though her listing had said the car was in Denver, her email said it was in Nevada.  And when I looked up the VIN, the Vehicle History Report gave some different information about the car, even some disturbing things like accidents or salvage titles.  She said she wanted to use Ebay’s Buyer Protection program to complete the transaction, so we would both be protected.  But Ebay doesn’t offer buyer protection unless the sale is done on Ebay.  How would that work?

 

Then I got another email about another car that was a great deal on Craigslist.  This email sounded way too similar.  He was about to ship out to Afghanistan also, but from North Dakota, and wanted the money to buy military stocks.  He would us a Military Shipping and Sales Service to protect our transaction, and ship the car to me free of charge.  I ran a Google search on his Military Shipping and Sales service.  I’ve played around with making a letter look like official letterhead.  If you can get a picture of the official symbols and match the fonts, you’re doing great.  Add in a link to the real organization, and the website is a pretty convincing fake.  There are a couple different websites that come up for US Military Shipping.  Both look real enough, but are pretty vague on how they work.  They link to a real US military site, at the bottom, claiming to be associated with them.  But they aren’t.  If you look at other Google entries, they are known frauds.

 

So I went on Craigslist and flagged the second emailer’s listing as a fraud.  And then I emailed him, telling him that I wasn’t dumb and wouldn’t be sending money for a car that wasn’t real.  And then I emailed the first one, giving the benefit of the doubt and just telling her I wanted to complete a transaction locally because there are so many scams on Craigslist.  She wrote back!  As though desperate for me to purchase her car, she told me more, that it was all ready to be shipped and shipping had been paid because another buyer backed out last minute.  She told me “more” about how Ebay Buyer Protection would work, that it left no risk to me and she would have to deal with getting the car back if I changed my mind in the risk-free period.  Or if I wanted to do a transaction face to face I could go out to Nevada to pick up the (crated?) car myself.

 

What pressure!  But the pushing made me more suspicious.  I did a Google search on her name.  She is supposedly a doctor and a Colonel, and yet there was no record of her online.  So I searched her division in the reserves and found an email from way back in June, with a different name, virtually identical to the second email she sent me.  She is listed as a fraud.  So I flagged her listing as well, and emailed her that I was not falling for her scam.  (She even used the same gmail address she had used in the past.  These crooks are lazy!)

 

Some of the fraud websites suggested we report these scams to the FTC.  So I went to their website and filed a complaint with all the information I had on each person – probably not enough to actually find the real people and convict them – and gave a summary of what had happened and what other action I had taken (flagging as “prohibited” on Craigslist).

 

At the top of Craigslist I noticed alerts in red, that all offers to ship cars are fraudulent.  There are companies that ship cars, but it is not a good idea to do that via Craigslist, with strangers.  Nor should you wire any money for transactions.  As I continued my searches, I began to note likely scams in the listings (some used similar fonts on their vehicle images, had similar vehicle makes and years for way under value).  One big red flag is that they don’t put a phone number in the listing.  So I gave these people a chance.  I emailed asking for more information.  If they offered to ship the car, I flagged them on Craigslist and reported them to the FTC.  Afterwards apparently it scared the scammers off for a while.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Below, for the purposes of anyone who happens to Google similar emails, is the text of every fraudulent email I received.

 

Hello,
First of all I would like to thank you for your interest in my car. This 2004 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE  Sedan with 72,765 miles runs and drives excellent. This car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all. I am the first owner of this car with a clear title free of encumbrances and liens. All regular maintenance was performed at an authorized garage.
I have dropped my price to $2,676 (purchase price), since this is an Urgent Sale! At the moment I’m stationed at Nevada Air National Guard from Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB), making final preparations before deploying to Afghanistan. If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner email me your name and shipping address to open a case with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program and they will contact you to explain the entire procedure. The financial part will be managed by them, which means that you will have a 5 days inspection period before committing to buy the car.  In this way both, buyer and seller are 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

For more details and pictures click on this link: https://sites.google.com/site/2004nissanmaxima35sesedan/

Hope to hear from you soon.


Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

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Good afternoon,

The car is already at the shipping company, crated and ready to go from Reno, NV. So you can either come pick it up yourself today or I can take care of the shipping for you. I had another customer who said it will buy and after I made all the necessary arrangements in advance and paid for all shipping & handling fees, changed his mind because didn’t have all the money. This is why I need to ship it since all transportation charges have already been paid by me. Shipping may take anywhere between 4 to 6 business days depending on the destination. All documents you need for ownership, title, manuals and bill of sale will be provided along with the car.
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program. They will keep your money into a protection account until you get the car and will release it to me ONLY AFTER inspection period is over and you agree to keep the car. So, this is not a blind transaction, you can physically see the car before committing to buy and to eliminate any concerns you will have 5 days to inspect the car. If you decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for both of us.
I’ll start the official procedure, and eBay will contact us about this in less than 24 hrs.
If you are interested in buying it just mail me back with:
– Your Full Name – Required by eBay (You’ll receive important guidelines + instructions from them);
– Your Shipping Address and Phone Number – Required by the Shipping company (They will call you with delivery/pickup instructions 1 day ahead so you can communicate what time schedule work best for you to receive the car).
Again I want to point out that because I am going to Afghanistan this sale is my top priority and I am after a fast transaction, with no delays. That is why I decided to lower the price, to avoid wasting time with negotiations and find a buyer as soon as possible.

Thanks, hope to do business with you soon!

Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

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Hello,
This 2004 Toyota Camry XLE V6 AUTOMATIC with 54710 Miles has a clear title. The general condition is excellent with no cosmetic complaints really worth comment. Both remote keys are present and are in working order,no electrical issues.
Everything  work perfect!
Price was reduced to $2700 (URGENT SALE) as I need to sell it in 2 weeks because I will leave with other troops in Afganistan and now US Army give us the chance to
buy some shares at BNSF RAILWAY.Co at half price and for this reason I need a fast transaction .
In order to sell my car, I will use US Army Shopping Service. This service was made only for US ARMY members to helps US Army memebrs to sell goods online !
So we can close the deal by US Army Shopping Service you must send the money to our Financial Department and after that the logistics department will shipp you the car and all the sale documents!
If you’re really interested in buying my car, make sure that you really have the cash available!
At the moment I’m stationed in our US Military AFB in NORTH DAKOTA making final preparations before deploying to Afganistan with the U.S. Convoy !
The car is already at our Military Logistic Department in our military base in NORTH DAKOTA , crated and ready to go.
The shipping is free because all the US Army members have 1 free delivery per year anywhere in US !
If you have any questions or if you want to buy my car just let me now and I will get back to you with more details about this transaction that will be done by US ARMY SHOPPING SERVICE !
I wish prefert to talck all the transaction details by the phone but right now I`m in a military base, getting ready for Afganistan and for this reason I will not have access to the phone for the next 2 weeks !
PICTURS ARE AVAILABLE IF YOU WANT ! JUST TELL ME AND I WILL SEND YOU THE PICS !

I’m waiting your answer !

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Hi again,

I have received your email regarding the 2003 Nissan Maxima SE with only 44,000 miles.
The car is in perfect condition,with no scratches on it,no damage, clear title.
The price for the car is $2,850 with shipping included.The car was my husband`s as he loved it very much, but he did not enjoy it as he died in a IRAQ 3 month ago. It brings very bad memories to me, I want to get rid of it.
The buyer will receive the car with all papers and receipts that he needs to register it to his name.
Shipping will be done whit DAS and it will take no more then 2-3 days. I have a friend there who will manage me a low price shipping and I assumed that it is my duty to pay for shipping it.It will be delivered directly to your address.Anyway, I have to let you know that I want a fast deal so if you are really interested in buying it,please reply with the following information’s:
-Your full name;
-Your shipping address.(street,city,state,zip code)
The transaction will close only through eBay so we both will be protected.
I want eBay because as they are the biggest company on the Internet I think that we can close this deal fast and safe for both of us. Also I am not very familiar with the Internet transactions and eBay is the only one I know.I will look for your email,so that we can move forward with this deal!
Let me know.
Regards,

Amanda

 

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