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Well, if you don’t know my position on new cars, read up on it here. Needless to say, I believe that buying a new car is the single best way to ensure you are going to be in debt FOREVER. Not to mention you are throwing money at something that just eats it for breakfast and never gives it back. I am a proponent of finding a great used car to buy, and then shaking the hand of the fool that subsidized your purchase by purchasing the car new after buying it for super cheap 🙂
How Do You Find A Good New (To You) Car?
There are several ways to find a good used vehicle. You can search online, you can go to a dealership, you can ask your best friend’s brother’s neighbor’s daughter if they are selling their 1989 Mercury Tracer. Whichever way you choose, you need to do some research before you jump out and throw thousands of dollars at a 3 thousand pound hunk of metal.
Obviously, you need to first start with a budget, as that is the most important determining factor when buying a vehicle (cue “captain obvious” theme song). “But how much should I spend on a new car? $15k, $20k? I’ve got money burning hole in my bank account!!!!” Whoa….slow down now. That passenger machine on wheels is not worth your kid’s college fund money. You only need $5,000 to $7,000 to get yourself a sweet used car, with all the bells and whistles that will last you another 100k miles.
Next, you need to do some research. You can start at somewhere like iSeeCars.com and check out their Car Research section. They’ve put together some awesome tools to find what you are looking for. Sort by MPG, car reviews, or even known car problems. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the best way to find out about a certain vehicle is to Google “2005 Toyota Camry Common Issues”. Looks like this site has taken care of that, so just find the vehicle you are looking for and check out if there are any common issues. This will give you bargaining power when making the purchase, and can also help you avoid vehicles that might be more trouble than they are worth.
Looking at common car problems should help you narrow down your choices. Most likely, you’ll end up at a good Toyota or Honda, because, let’s face it, those are the MOST reliable cars on the road. How do I know? Well, just look around next time you are on the freeway? What cars from the mid 90’s are still on the road? You betcha! Honda and Toyota vehicles. Also, I have owned several, and currently own two 1994 Hondas with over 275,000 miles on each, and they both run AMAZING and get 30 MPG.
Find An Actual Car Nearby To Test Out
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search to a good, used Honda or Toyota for about $5,000, it’s time to go find your dream car! Personally, I’m all about using Craigslist “Cars For Sale By Owner”. I can usually find what I’m looking for at a great price, and am always looking for diamonds in the rough. I’ve got a few tools and the internet, so I can fix minor problems, and usually save a bucketload of cash by buying something that’s not 100%.
If you’re a bit gun-shy about buying on craigslist, definitely check out iSeeCars search tool, as they are like the Mint.com of the car world. They aggregate car listing from thousands of dealerships and websites to bring you all the listings in one place. These used cars are all at dealerships, so you can rest assured that you (most likely) won’t get robbed…not at knifepoint at least. Be wary of salesmen and their tactics, and definitely come armed with your research to talk ’em down to a good price. Once you’ve found your car at the best price, LOCK IT DOWN!
Comments: How do you buy used cars? Do you do thorough research before venturing out? How much do you spend on your average vehicle purchases? Do you think my $5k is too low?