Today we are going to see how we can make that big purchase. For purposes of this article we will limit this quest to a used car but with some slight changes this could be a search for that ideal stereo or that perfect house or just about anything else. If you have had cars before then you may have a certain brand (Toyota, Ford, Chevy and etc) that you prefer. Your search will be narrowed down a bit but if you don't have a favorite brand don't worry you have your trusty computer to help in your search. We will be looking for a used car. The economy is tight for most of us and this just makes sense.
First off you must decide if you are going to have a car payment and if so how much will the monthly payments be and how much you can afford. There are several places you can mouse over to and calculate loans but Edmund’s has been around for some time and is a good place to start (http://www.edmunds.com/calculators/). If you don't have a good idea as to what you can afford just start putting in numbers and keep going till you find an amount you are comfortable with.
Now that you are armed with knowledge of what you can afford type into your search engine of choice and type in to the search box used cars in your zip code. You will come up with a good list of places to start your car search. To further narrow your search call these places and ask if they have some cars in your price range. There isn't much sense in going to places that don't even have any cars in your price range. Take notes of any that they may mention and don't forget the stock numbers if they have them. You don't want to get to the shop and have the salesman tell you what you were told about is gone (Even if they re not) so they can move you onto a higher price model. This step is very important. Mouse on over to (http://www.kbb.com/). Kelley’s Blue Book has been around long before the internet. There are 2 sets of prices. One that says what the dealer should pay for the car and one that says what the car should sell for to you. With the internet this is much easier. You want a car that fits somewhere in between these two prices. Write the prices down for the models you were told about on the phone. Just remember these are just ball park figures and are may be more or less then what Kelly says. These prices are your starting point. Take your notebook with you and head on over to the first place on your list. If you are not experienced in car buying just remember the salesman will try to get you into the most expensive car he can. He/she is on commission and their goal is to make as much money as possible on each sale. Another point you should remember is that in general the farther you search from a main city the prices do come down as a general rule.
Now you have narrowed your search down after a several stops it is time to start taking a closer look. If you don't know much about cars than take someone who does. This is very important. The less expensive cars probably have more limited warranty(A first time car buyer) or perhaps none depending on the price of the car. This is important to remember. One of the reasons dealerships cars cost more is they will check out the cars they sell. They don't want a reputation for selling junk. A car sold from someones home isn't going through this, they are just selling their car and may or may not have a work history on the car. The following is a list of things to check out on the car you want. This isn't needed on every car yet, just the ones you are serious about.
1. Make sure the engine is clean and orderly. Any engine can easily be make to look like new this is just a start. Check the fluids are full and clean.
2. Look under the car for any signs of leaks or rust. This area is rarely cleaned. If it looks rusted move on. Cars from the 90's often have new paint just because of clear coat problems that plagued the 90's. That new paint job could also be hiding rust and you want to make sure you don't get a rust bucket.
3. Check all the upholstery and ceiling for problems. Tears in the seats (double check the seams) or a falling ceiling headliner.
4. Make sure the doors, windows, and any options the car has works (Do not forget the heater or A/C as these can be very expensive to fix).
5. Tire wear. Wear patterns hear could indicate alignment or shock problems.
6. Take the car for a test drive. You will be looking for how the car starts and stops. Check the cruise if available. How is acceleration. A 4 cylinder engine won't have the pep of a V8 But there shouldn’t be hesitation. Go on some local hills. Take some sharper turns to see if there are grinding noises (Not Good).
7. There is a saying in the gambling world. You never gamble with scared money. You never want to be rushed to by a car. If you aren't sure go home and think it over. Yes the car may be gone tomorrow but the odds are it will still be there tomorrow.
There are some things you should remember before you buy that car. The best time to buy is at the end of the month. Or preferably the end of December. The reason for this is the salesperson needs to make their quota. Now that you have your new baby home you need to take care of it. Use the computer to make record keeping much easier. In a separate file just for car record keeping. You should keep a list of everything you do to your car from the shop on the work order to tire changes or body repair. This is important not just for resale but more importantly so you now wen is time to get repairs done. For example if you have some electrical problem that keeps needing attention it will show up in your records. And now you or your mechanic can get to the root of the problem.
Head over to YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) And in the search box enter car maintenance for your car. If your car model and year are not listed don't worry just enter car maintenance. You should do even if you are not doing the work yourself. The idea is to learn the basics of car maintenance. At the very least you will know what you are hearing about when the mechanic states what is needed to be done. This is being an informed consumer. For best results pay attention to the videos my auto mechanic. Now enjoy your new ride.