Monday, November 11, 2013

10 car buying tips for the average joe

So you want to buy a new car or a new used car?
Don't want to get screwed over?
Want that deal you can be proud of?

Well here's some basic buyer tip and cautionary buyer bewares from yours truly. To
help you get the car you want, with out paying through the nose for it.

Tip #1
Car shopping is like grocery shopping. Never go when your hungry. While there is a chance all be it small that the first car is the perfect car. Be prepared to walk away if its not right (price or otherwise). You don't have to take the first one you see and just because it has a price doesn't mean its the lowest you'll pay if you fight for it.

Tip #2
Carfax... while this can be a great tool its not the end all be all. Most smaller shops don't report to Carfax and you have to pay for the service. In my experience its been all but useless at times. The main things to look for is damage reports and owners (how many and where were they located). The damage may not be listed but I'll explain some warning signs to look for later. Bit if any damage was listed make sure it was repaired by a dealer not a body shop. Why? Because dealerships will usually use new parts not salvage parts like smaller body shops(not always, but normally) Why owners? Well if a cars is say a few years old ans has had several owners its a sign there's underlying issues that people simply didn't want to deal with and  probably neither will you. Also if a car is from a northern or flood state you'll want to check for flood damage or rusting (I'll also explain how later)

Tip #3
Do your research! Kelly blue book ( or can give you a good idea what a car is worth so when you deal with a salesman you can know what the car is really worth. They are going to try and keep the price as high as possible since most are commission based, but don't let them sell you on promises of higher trade in values or incentives. Keep the bottom line on the price of the car not an extended warranty or some non-sense.

Tip #4
Warranties. While factory warranties are awesome. Most extended warranties offered by companies are complete shams. They cover very little and cost a butt load. They'll show you a huge list of covered items and what they aren't saying is everything it doesn't cover, which is normally double the covered list.

Tip #5
Hidden damages. The most typical place for damages on a car are the corners. Don't be afraid to pop the hood or trunk and check around. Most typically your looking for wrinkling of metal behind or near the lights (headlights and taillights). It should be smooth if not and its not on the Carfax its probably been repaired by a smaller shop and not reported.  Make sure you also take a peek under the car, why? You want to make sure the car wasn't lowered or altered in some way and then drug down the road causing damage. If you see excessive scraping, rust or clay like mud under a car DO NOT BUY IT. Unless your willing to risk possible expensive repairs down the road. Check for water damage in the interior and trunk. This can mean possible signs of leaky seals especially around sunroofs or convertible tops. These are notorious for leaking as cars age.

Tip #6
Rust, floods, snows and other fun things. Earlier I mentioned checking the Carfax for owner locations. Why? Well here in Florida as other states I'm sure. We tend to get a wide range of out of state cars, which can have several types of issues. Typically the most are often rust, damage from snow, water damage from floods and dry rot from sitting.
Each has its own way of being detected if you're patient and look closely.
Rust is the hardest. Most lots will use a heavy degreaser and armorall type shine to mask the discoloration of metal. But check areas like the lower frame or around the exhaust for signs that won't be sprayed over.

Snow damage is actually not from the snow at all, but the salt they use to dissolve the snow. Typically you can see large rust areas on the bottom of the car near the wheel wells and exhaust.

Water damage can be tricky most lots will steam clean or even replace carpets, so seeing flood damage isn't always possible. Try to look for staining along the door panels or any signs of mud/clay around the suspension areas. These are costly so most dealers  won't replace them.

Lastly dry rot. This is easy, just look at the rubber seals around the doors, windows and roof. If there is a lot cracking or even splitting most likely the car was either poorly maintained or had been sitting for some time in the sun.

Tip #7
Know what car fits your needs. To often people are talked into a car that's either out of their price range or something that they really don't even need. If you need a truck but its only you in it most of the time. Don't get talked into a quad cab that's both double the price and will hardly be used. Or if you need a  family car, don't be persuaded in a to 2 door sports coupe. A lot of the time we make excuses for settling and end up unhappy don't let this be you.

Tip #8
Location, location, location. While local dealers are convenient.  They may not the deal your hunting for. Try to find several lots along a route no more the say 25-50 miles and make it a day. Often you can find killer deals a little further out of town the. Most want to go look.

Tip #9
Beware of the special models. For the average person there is always the lure of the "limited edition". While this is a tempting offer there are downsides most don't realize to these gems. The biggest is availability of parts and cost of those parts. Most limited editions have limited interchangeable parts so the cost is greatly higher. Also working on these can be more difficult requiring special tools making cost of labor for repairs more as well. So think twice if you really want the long term cost of the limited production of a car model.

Tip #10
Deal breakers. Look the tips I listed above are just basic advice to someone who knows a little to nothing about cars. Just because a car has some issues doesn't mean its not repairable or not a good deal. Often a minor issue such as a single leaky window seal can be fixed at a low cost. Just make sure its not every seal.

Hopefully these tips will help. Any thing else you wonder about.
Feel free to comment and I'll answer as best as I can.

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