Inside: Don’t be ripped off when buying a used car. 7 excellent tips to avoid the headache of being ripped off when buying a used car and get the best deal for your money
A couple clicks and I transferred the last $600 into the car fund account.
Ready to buy another vehicle. My husband decided on a 2005 -2007 Toyota Camry with less than 150k miles.
For top reliability so he wouldn’t have to worry about fixing the vehicle all the time and would last us for several years.
I wanted a pretty white car.
Even still, it would be a huge upgrade from my Mazda that just pushed over 324k miles. And we could still make progress on our other money goals.
When you buy a vehicle for cash, look for an older car, with more miles, that’s still in good shape mechanically.
Lessons I learned buying a used car for cash
7 excellent tips to avoid the headache of being ripped off when buying a used car and get the best deal for your money
1. Research the vehicle you want ahead of time
If you know what make, model and year you want in your next vehicle, searching Offer Up, Craigslist and Facebook marketplace will be much easier.
The filters on all of these platforms aren’t the best and you do have to weed through a lot of junk.
People selling parts for a Toyota Camry.
Cars that are listed as pristine and in excellent condition, simply not possible with 210k miles.
Arm yourself with the Kelly Blue Book price range of the year, make and model of the vehicle you want because everyone thinks their vehicle is worth more than it is.
As I was texting the owners through the apps, I started saving my questions as a note on my phone. Copy and paste made it much easier to communicate quickly.
- Has the vehicle been in any wrecks?
- Is it a clean title
Do your own inspection and test drive
Meet to inspect and test drive the car in a well-lit, public area during daytime.
Take someone with you, especially someone who’s worked on cars and can tell if the engine is leaking or there’s any major problems, like motor mounts being worn out.
My job was to get the owner talking, especially about the vehicle, how long they’ve had it, where’d they got it, any wrecks…
While my hubby inspected the vehicle inside and out visually.
Watch for worn paint or faded/cracked/torn interior. Check every switch, lock and window for proper functioning. Check the engine for any leaks or visual problems.
2. Look at the car from every angle for body damage or dents
We could have looked more carefully on the white Camry that we bought.
Didn’t see a small dent on the back side panel of the driver’s side until we pulled up at the DMV authorized store to buy the car and the light hit it just right.
Download the used car buying checklist here
Take the vehicle for a test drive
You may need to give a license, in exchange to take the vehicle on a test drive. Especially if the owner is a vehicle dealer, someone who buys cars from auction and flips them for a profit.
Or the owner may come with you.
Listen for any weird sounds coming from the engine.
Again, if you don’t know about car engines, bring someone who does to test drive the vehicle.
After driving the Camry a couple miles, while I stood in the CVS parking lot making small talk with the owner and his daughter, my husband came back and said he liked how smooth the engine was and how nice the vehicle looked from the inside.
“Because of the damage to the front bumper, I’d take this for $4,000 instead of $4,300, if the vehicle inspection comes back good,” he negotiated.Related: Where is the duct tape? My car is falling apart!
Don't be ripped off when you buy a used car. What to look for to get the best car for your money
3. Spend the money to get a Carfax
As soon as we got home we checked the CarFax with the VIN number, 3 previous owners, sold on auction, a minor accident no frame damage.
In this car search, checking the Carfax has already saved us from buying a vehicle with frame damage from an accident after the owner had said it wasn’t in any accidents.
And on another one, we saw the odometer had been altered two years ago, much to the dismay of the current owner who had bought it 4 months ago off of someone selling it for his grandpa.
You can find out how many owners, any accidents or damage, odometer readings, and if the vehicle is a salvage title.
If the car looks amazing, and has a salvage title, don’t waste your time. You don’t know what kind of damage the car has sustained, who has fixed it and the quality of repairs.
Plus reselling the vehicle can be a pain.
You can buy one Carfax for $40, 3 for $60 or 6 for $100 and can buy them ahead of time. Definitely worth the money.
Don’t be ripped off when buying a used car. 7 excellent tips to avoid the headache of being ripped off when buying a used car and get the best deal for your money. #used #car #buying #tips
4. Take the vehicle to a well-reviewed, respected mechanic who takes pictures of the repairs and get a quote of all the repairs
We were in a hurry.
The owners wanted to get the inspection done that afternoon. Saturday.
I called and found an open shop nearby that would do an inspection, another cost that we paid for.
We had to drive through a sketchy car junkyard to the back where there was a two bay mechanic shop with cars in the bays and more parked outside.
The mechanic did get us in right away and looked over the car, saying there was a small leak on the rack and pinion.
But…. we should have gone with a reputable company who did a more thorough inspection and takes pictures of any needed repairs.
Like we did the following day after buying the car.
This thorough inspection was $70, another worthwhile cost when you’re talking thousands of dollars.
The photographs showed all parts of the suspension did indeed need to be replaced.
With the needed repairs, my husband would have either negotiated for a much lower price or would have passed on buying the vehicle.
A frustrating lesson.
Get the quote for the vehicle repairs from the shop and use that number as a guideline in negotiating the price down.
Beware, every owner we did talk to, claimed there was nothing wrong with their vehicle even with visible leaks or weird noises from the engine.
Some of the engines we looked at were sparkling clean… for a car with ~150k miles, that’s a little sketchy..
Engine detailing (cleaning it off) is a legit service owners will pay for, making you think that the car’s in really good shape.Ready to gain confidence with handling money so you can crush the fear, get rid of the debt, build up your savings and transform your financial future? Join Money Builders Inner Circle today!
Check off these 7 things to guarantee buying a used car that's worth your money and eliminate the headache
5. Don’t get your hopes up and be patient
Cars would be sold within hours after being posted on Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up.
Like the one car we were supposed to look at by 6p at Walgreens and I saw a notification pop up at 5:17p that it had been sold.
My hunch is that people do a visual inspection and drive it, then if they like it immediately buy it.
If you’re going to save money buy buying a used car for cash, take the extra time to get it inspected to make sure you’re not buying a bunch of problems along with the pretty car.
If cars have been listed for months… most likely it’s either been sold or there’s a serious problem and no one wants to buy it, proceed with caution.
The rush to meet to test drive the car, set up an appointment for the owner to take the vehicle in for the inspection, and finalize the purchase makes it easy to overlook important considerations in buying a vehicle.
Or want a car that’s out of your budget.
However, just as cars get sold within hours of being posted, additional cars are posted all the time.
Be patient and continue sitting on that pile of money until you find the vehicle you want to buy. Don’t get your hopes up on a certain car.
More cars will come.
6. Be willing to walk away if they won’t negotiate the price
Armed with the Kelly Blue Book value for private sale with the make, model, mileage and condition of the vehicle, we went to look at a gold Camry.
Already the owner, a vehicle dealer flipping cars from auction, had set the price on the high end of a good to excellent vehicle.
Everyone thinks their car can bring in more money than it’s worth.
With chipped paint on the trunk and a worn out motor mount, we offered less. She wasn’t interested in negotiating.
So we walked away.
7 insanely brilliant things you should always do when buying a used car to make the most of your money
7. Meet at a 3rd party authorized DMV location to exchange the title and the money
Once we found a car, got it inspected by the sketchy auto shop, and decided to buy it, I found a third party authorized DMV shop where we could exchange the title and the money.
I wasn’t going to go to the DMV and wait in line for 3 hours if I didn’t have to.
Stopped by the bank and took out $4,000 in hundred dollar bills, stuffed in an envelope, to hand over.
Called my insurance broker to add the vehicle onto my insurance effective the date of sale.
Bring a driver’s license for all people who will be named on the title. A tool to remove the old license plate, we forgot. And your money, stuffed in an envelope.
The title transfer is a pretty simple process. A couple of forms, signatures, hand over the money for the keys, and remove the old license plate.
I paid for the vehicle registration, got a new license plate and tags.
And just like that I had paid cash for a white 2005 Toyota Camry with 145k miles.
Paying cash for a vehicle felt like I’d leveled up in my personal finance journey.
Get your used car buying checklist here
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!