used car

mst___September 11, 2006

My son has saved $3000.00 for a used car. It will be his first car. Can he get a decent car for this amount? I am clueless about buying a car. What should we look for? What kind of questions should we ask? Is it better to buy from a dealer or private party? Please help me. I'm afraid I'll get scammed.
Clueless in WA. state.

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You'll probably get more car for the dollar if you go private party. I just bought a '95 Thunderbird mainly to haul dogs around in and I've ended up driving it more than I do the much newer vehicles we have. It's got a small dent on the left side, otherwise it rides and drives like brand new. Paid $2400 for it.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 7:38PM
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I agree with dobesrule, above. You will do best with a private party. You should set aside $1000.00 for repairs. And, you might not have to spend $3000.00 to get a good car. You might find one for much less, even $1000.00. Your son will have to do a road test, usually with the owner, and he will have to get the car up to cruising speed, 55 or 65 mph, to see how it works. He should operate the headlights and any other electrical accessories, like power windows or power locks, to see if they work OK. High mileage is not always bad. Many cars will go 200,000 miles with no major repairs to engine or transmission. Low mileage is no guarantee that the car will not require maintenance. In your situation, I would look for a used car with 100K or even 150K miles, in generally good condition.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 10:43AM
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I'm absolutely certain that prices can vary from location to location.

Around here, $3000 doesn't get anything you'd want to trust your child's life to. For anything halfway safe and decent, you'd need more like $5000-6000.

You can do better pricewise, dealing with a private party, but if you say you know nothing about cars, then you will need to enlist the help of someone who is very knowlegeable to help you make a good decision. Generally, by law, private party sales are 'as is', and you will get no warrantee from a private seller. If you buy something and miss a major problem, you will be out of luck getting the seller to fix it. So be sure you have every car he becomes seriously interested in looked over carefully by a qualified mechanic. Never take the word of the seller, that the car is in good shape. When DD was buying her first car, there were several that looked good--clean, good bodies, seemed to be well-cared for--that we discovered had major flaws that would have meant big bucks or poor running or safety concerns. Fortunately, my husband is one of those who knows a lot about motors, so we passed those by.

You also want to get the car's history. A lot of damaged cars from flood states have been moved to other areas of the country for sale as used cars--and people aren't aware that they may have been in floods. That's not legal in all states, but it's something you need to be aware of and check out.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:34PM
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quirkyquercus is a good place to start doing your homework.
A used Toyota will be the most trouble free for you.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:39PM
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You will get more car for the money from a private sale then a car dealer.But you will have to be careful both ways.

The problem with teenage buyers and boys more so then girls is.There picky about what they want to buy.They want the sporty cars like Mustangs and Camaros.The problem with those choices are many did not have a gentle life.Also the insurance is much higher.Used cars models that are better deals and had a more gentle life are the 4 door models like Buick.Because they were owned by older more mature drivers.Plus insurance costs are much lower.

I buy new cars.But I do have a work car at all times.I try to buy used from people I know.That way I know what im getting and know how it was treated.Example I now have a 1994 Buick Regal that I bought 1 year ago from a friend for only $1500.00.I put new tires on it and it is a good used high milage car.

There are many things to look at when buying used.You must determine if it was in a major wreck.That is the first thing I check for.Check the paint do all panels match?Any seems that seem odd?How does it drive does it pull one way or the other?

Then I check the engine for leaks and to see if there is any sighns of oil in the coolant recovery tank.Any smoke at start up or when you take your foot off the gas pedal at highway speed.

Those are just a few things on the check list.Dont forget to take a magnet to make sure all panels are metal and not Bondo.

The hard part will be talking him into an Adult car.Rather then a trendy hot rod sports model.But if you can talk him into it.He will be better off.Because you get more car for the money.You get a more reliable car that is stock.Less chance of gear head add ons.The drive axel has not smoked the tires.Better gas milage.Much cheaper insurance rates.

He might say its a Granny car.Or its a Nerd moble.But he will come closer to being able to afford the upkeep and insurance costs.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:46PM
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If you need to, tell him that, if he goes for a "grannymobile", you'll spend a couple hundred on a car stereo for him. That might make the deal palatable and not cost you a fortune.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:58PM
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I bought my brother's 90 Maxima over six years ago for $3K and am still driving it without too many maintenance costs. Bought my brother's 96 Avalon with 225K miles for my son over a year ago for $300. Had a minor front fender bender. I just bought a new headlight assembly and so far so good. It's a bigger car that was rated pretty good in crash tests - has front air bags. I would be leary about him driving an older car without air bags and the other recent safety equipment and design. I know it's not as safe as it could be since it had a minor accident and a lot of miles, but I keep an eye on it to look for worn parts. I knew my brother treated his vehicles well and did regular maintenance. Oh yeah, and we got him a new stereo, which was definitely high priority for him. So, there are cars out ther for that price. As stated previously, consider insurance costs, as they vary with type of vehicle and 16 old boys pay a lot! I just have liability on the older cars.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 4:15PM
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Thanks for the insite. Now all I have to do is convince my husband that it can be done. He keeps wanted the kid to save more and then more. Poor kid is so anxious for one. I've been driving him back and forth to work and it is really inconvenient for me.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 6:38PM
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Keep in mind also that domestic cars (i.e. Ford, Dodge, GM, etc.)are often much cheaper than foreign, allowing you to get a newer, higher end model for the same price you'd pay for a much older high mileage import. Hondas and Toyotas are great (believe me, I just sold a 96 Accord w/ 270k miles) but I wouldn't overlook some otherwise great models from the big 3, especially since it'll be a first car and bought on a budget. A-lot of Later model GMs and Fords are solid choices and are very affordable (3k can get you into a pretty nice car if you stay off the Honda/Toyota lots!)Can you try to narrow it down to a certain type(s) of vehicle(s)? (4-door or 2-doors? Small, mid-size or large? Sports car? Truck? SUV? etc.)

Also, private party will generally always be less than dealer. Dealers try to include their various fees into the price as well as try to make maximum profit.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 9:00PM
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Furthermore, no body knows the history of the vehicle better than the previous owner! I prefer to buy vehicles from owners who have some history with the vehicle (vs. someone who just buys and sells cars) They can inform me what maintenance has/hasn't been done, if the vehicle has been problematic, etc. Dealers don't know squat about the vehicles and often sugar coat the actual condition of the vehicle and fill the buyer's head with a bunch of fluff.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 9:12PM
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One thing to consider is if you have a repair shop that you deal with regularly and you trust. It would be worth the money to let them inspect the car before you buy it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 9:26PM
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I forgot to mention.Becareful that it was not brought in from a Hurricane area.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 12:53PM
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A pre-purchase inspection is worth every penny of its cost ! you will find out nearly everything there is to know about this car as far as what it may need for repairs in near future ( I say nearly - as most Mechanics DO NOT have a crystal Ball !) but they also know what to look for - In our shop we have seen cars that look great on the out side - underside or suspension or transmission may be a whole other story !

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 6:08PM
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Read my tale of woe under "used car nightmare" to know what not to do! Great advice on this forum. Check to make sure the odomoter is working. Also check to see if the name on the title is really the person who is selling the car! My son didn't take the car to our mechanic because we were far from home. If I had it to do over again, I would have written in the contract that we had 24 hrs to rescind if our mechanic found any major problems.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 9:49PM
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If your looking to buy a used car, whether your buying from a dealer or private party, always do a vehicle history report, kbb value, test drive, and have it inspected by a certified mechanic.

For a first car, i recommend buying a GM car, or cars made by GM, (ex. Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, Saturn) because they're reliable and their parts are cheap to replace. The japanese cars are reliable cars too, but their parts are expensive. I would stay away from the Ford & Chrysler vehicles because of their transmission problems, (My mom ended up replace her transmission in her 97 Dodge Caravan, TWICE!)

For a sports car, i'd wait till the kid is like 18 or out of high school so he's used to the driving and the insurance coverage drops.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 10:59PM
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