Sunday, March 3, 2013

Buying a Car

This last week has been my spring break, so you would think I would have had time to make more posts. I guess not. One thing that I did was buy a new (used) car so I thought I would share my experience and thoughts on buying a used car on craigslist or other similar sites.

  • Compile a list of questions and call to set up a test drive. You don't want to set up a test drive only to find out that the car smells of smoke. Asking questions on the phone will save you time.
  • Do a little bit of research on the car you are going to go see or test drive. This should include the  Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds prices for a private sale. If they are asking $10,000 and the KBB and Edmunds price shows $9,500, you can use that as negotiation. 
  • Don't text - you can get a lot of information or a 'feeling' about the seller by talking to them.
  • Ask for a car fax/car history report. If they don't want to pay to get one, then you can run one yourself. Just have them give you the car VIN. You will want the basic history of the car to make sure nothing is weird. It costs money to get a history report ($5-$30 depending on who you use to get the report) so I would only purchase a report after you know you want to car so you don't end up paying for a report on every car you look at. 
  • Being able to pay for the car with cash can give you some negotiating power. Sellers don't want to have to deal with the hassle of their buyer getting a loan, etc.
  • If you find a car you like, but are not sure about the car's condition you can always have it inspected by a mechanic. Sure it might cost you $50 to get it inspected, but it could save you hundreds when the mechanic finds things wrong with the car. It'll give you more negotiating power and peace of mind. 
  • Finally, trust your instincts. If you are unsure about a deal, don't be afraid to look for something else. 
So what car did I end up getting?...Yep, I'm officially a mini-van dad. Yikes. 

One reason I chose to get a car on craigslist/private sale is because in Arizona there is NO sales tax on a private sale. Other states do have sales tax on these transactions and in those states it may be more appealing to get a certified used car. 

Many of you probably have other great ideas and more experience than me (I've only bought a few cars), so please feel free to share...

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  1. Good to know! Are you going to bringing that mini-van to California in two weeks? I'd love to ride in it!

  2. That's the reason we got the mini van! California road trip here we come!

  3. Howdy, Christian! You're so fortunate to have found a great deal on Craigslist. What kind of minivan was it? Is it a hybrid? Well, good luck on your California road trip! Make sure you fill up that gas tank, and have an extra pair of wheels. Drive safely, my friend!
    - Madeline Joyce


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