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17 Quick Insider Car-Buying Tips

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Saturday, September 26, 2015


Popular Mechanics magazine enlisted a variety of automotive experts and compiled several pages of advice for buying a car, new or used. Below are 17 summarized tips.  

New car buying tips:

---- If you’re not sure about the car’s reliability, have a chat with someone at the service department. They know all the problems sputtering into their service bay.

---- Salespeople make most of their money when the buyer finances the car through the dealership. Savvy buyers who can pay cash will settle on a price first, then spring the bad news on the salesperson. The seller knowing ahead of time the customer is paying cash will negotiate harder for a higher price so he can earn a living.

---- Most dealers add $1,000 to the price because they know 99% of buyers will negotiate. They later give the amount back and add $500 to appear really generous.

---- If a buyer boldly enters the showroom demanding a price that is just too low and unreasonable, most salespeople have no qualms escorting the buyer to the exit.

---- Salespeople complain too many customers expect a $200 a month payment plan. That is so 1989. The overwhelming majority of plans are from $300 to $500 per month.

---- Salespeople also complain the trade-ins buyers come to the dealer with are downright filthy. Some contend it’s four out of every five cars. The salesperson is unlikely to give the customer the trade-in value he wants if the interior is grungy, grimy and seems as if the owner has been living in it for 6 months.

---- Buy your new car in August or September. Dealers are trying to make room for the new years’ models by slashing prices to the current year models. During these two months there is usually still a good selection available.

Used car buying tips: 

---- Book values for used cars listed by valuation web sites like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds are always too high for dealers. Sellers unreasonably expect to get that price. Used car dealers need room for profit because the next buyer will likely be a tough negotiator. The car will also commonly need $500 to $1,000 of work.

---- The Popular Mechanics' Used-Car Checklist iPhone App (Free):
“The Used-Car Checklist leads the user through an inspection of a car, looking for mechanical trouble. We cover everything from signs of water damage to the right way to do a test drive. You answer questions as you go, and the app keeps a tally of what you've seen. The result is a letter grade for the car—A through F—along with a summary of what you've found, photos you've shot, and notes you've taken.”  http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/apps/a7648/download-popular-mechanics-used-car-checklist-iphone-app-for-free-7890662/

Online Car Shopping – Popular Mechanics’ recommends:

eBay Motors   http://www.ebay.com/motors

Quick tip – take the time to go through as many listings as possible and compare. See what already sold and what hasn’t.eBay Motors offers quick guides to buying a car through their site. Two starter guides are:

“Buying a car can be stressful. That's why we decided to reinvent it. We believe that car buying should be transparent and anxiety free. So we partnered with like-minded dealers to address the primary stress point – the negotiation and haggling of price.

“How do we do this? It's simple. We show you what others paid for the car you are considering. That gives you confidence that TrueCar Certified Dealer prices are honest and fair. Then our dealers offer guaranteed savings to TrueCar customers for new vehicles in-stock and on the lot.”

Cars.com    https://www.cars.com/

“With an average of more than 31 million visits each month, Cars.com is the leading online destination for car shoppers and owners. We offer credible and easy-to-understand information to help consumers research, price and find new and used vehicles and quality service and repair providers.

“Through unbiased editorial content, vehicle listings, dealer reviews, side-by-side comparison options, build and price tools, photo galleries and videos, Cars.com gives drivers the information they need to make confident decisions.”

Carvana     http://www.carvana.com/

“Our cars aren't perfect & neither are we. But we do promise to tell you the whole truth. Used cars sometimes have slight blemishes. But you can rest easy, knowing we'll point out anything you need to be aware of.”

Carvana’s mission “is to make car buying better by bringing technology, transparency, and exceptional customer service to the car buying process. Carvana ranked 5th on Forbes List of America's Most Promising Companies for 2015.”

Used car classified-ad translation – what the seller really means:

Needs TLC = Car needs at least $1,500 of work
Small crack = medium crack
Medium crack = large crack
Reliable = ugly, don’t expect to impress your friends
Easy fix = What is the sellers definition of easy? Expect at least $1,000 in repairs
“Check Engine” light is on = car has been chronically abused
Mechanic special = Brilliantly put back together with duct tape  

Various contributors, “How To Buy A Car” Popular Mechanics, July / August, 2015

How to Clean and Detail Your Car Interior
Cleaning the inside of your car is an essential part of owning an automobile. Not only does having a clean car feel good, but it helps to preserve your car so that it will last a long time. We walk through the details for detailing the inside of your car, including cleaning the seats and windows. 

Consumer’s Reports: “Best cars for making it to 200,000 miles - 10 models most likely to run for the long haul”    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/03/ten-for-the-long-haul/index.htm

From the eBay Motors blog: Tips for Buying A Reliable Car for Less Than $5,000  http://www.ebay.com/motors/blog/tips-for-buying-a-reliable-car-for-less-than-5000/

Photo:  http://unlimitedrevs.com/ten-tips-to-find-the-best-car-for-you/    CC  

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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