A Used Car Guide : Step by Step to a Better Deal
Reviewing our new and used car guide before venturing out will educate you on the exciting elements, the "secrets" and the pitfalls to be aware of. Purchasing preowned vehicles has its own checklist to prepare. From accident and history reports, pricing guide, warranties, should you buy from a dealer/business or a private seller and of course financing for each.
A preowned vehicle can give you the thrill of being able to drive a car that was previously unaffordable, either because of the price of the car itself or a combination of all vehicle related costs (i.e. insurance). Many Used car guides state vehicles are lasting much longer and therefore the illusion of a used car being "good enough for now" is fading. In the 1970's the average mileage of recycled (junkyard) cars was 160 000 kms. Today's estimated mileage expectation is nearly 300 000 kms, so buying a four year old car off of a lease and with 85 000 kms on it does not seem like a foolish choice, especially considering you can possibly save half of the vehicles original value. Used car guides are more useful than ever with pre-owned vehicles being so popular.
Our used car guide has a step by step process to follow when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle.
Used Car Guide Step one: Find the right car
This first step in a used car guide should start by asking yourself a few questions: 1. What kind of car do I need for myself and my family? 2. How much can I really afford? 3. Have I considered all the options of other vehicles in that class? 4. What are all of the costs of owning this vehicle going to be?
Answers to these questions may come easy or you may struggle with them but they will be an integral part of buying your pre-owned vehicle. Some further suggestions from our used car guide has for your answers
1. Do I really need all that performance (sports coupes and sedans)? How much room do I need (SUV's and Vans ) and is four wheel drive necessary for where I am driving?
2 and 4. What is my true monthly expenditure allowance for this vehicle or how much can I afford? What is the monthly payment? Play with the
Used Car Guide Payment Calculator
Figure out What can I afford as a downpayment? What about total purchase price compared to monthly budget, how do they compare with the terms available? How much is insurance going to be? Use our used car guide for insurance and
check for the best insurance quotes here for free
, once you have narrowed down your list. What about reliability and repair costs? You will figure this out in step two. What is the fuel economy for this vehicle?
Fuel Economy Ratings
3. If the Mazda 3 is not fitting all of my criteria then other possibilities are what does Ford, Toyota and of course Honda make that are comparable. (Focus, Corolla and Civic just in case you were wondering)
Be sure to choose multiple cars that fit with your criteria. We have a sharp axe and we are going to use it to make cuts so having many candidates for your next vehicle is a good idea. Answer the questions for each and pick your top five to seven vehicles.
Used Car Guide Step two: Research and Reviews
Research and reviews consists of a few of their own individual steps. You complete them separately then compile your information to give you a strong indication of the vehicles that will best meet with your criteria.
Reviews in the used car guide consist of compiling information pertaining to the makes and models you are contemplating as a whole. Using various sources such as ourselves for Hondas, edmunds .com and Yahoo!Autos and read how others enjoyed putting the vehicles you are considering through their paces. Do they seem to meet with your criteria? Great if they do, Cut them from your list if they don't. Gather information about
common problems and recalls
Use this information to decide on your potential satisfaction of owning your various choices. All vehicles have problems, yes, even Hondas. But, are the known problems big enough to sour your ownership experience? If so, cut it from your list. I am assuming you now see why more vehicles in your initial list is important. Find out what the wholesale cost is of your choices. You can use this used car guide to
find this out through us
or use The Canadian Black Book (web address is listed at the bottom of used car guide page) or kbb.com which is The Kelly Blue Book Site. This information will give you an idea of depreciation and also if you are getting a good deal on the price of your vehicle choices. Also, review owner forums about your vehicles of choice. Everyone loves to talk, unfortunately it is many times only about the negative aspects. How do your vehicle choices stack up against each other? You can simply go to Google and type in your vehicle make and model along with "owner forum" to have multiple listings They may all seem to be on a fairly even playing field, if this is the case keep them all on your list, we have more possible cuts coming from Research.
Research gets down to the nitty gritty as they say by taking all your information and compiling it together. You have insurance quotes, reliability reviews with repair costs, approximate monthly payments, interest rates, terms available and annual fuel costs all on a list of approximately four or five makes and models. All of these numbers in your used car guide will give you a strong indication of the total cost of ownership. List your vehicle choices from least to most expensive for ownership cost. What you will do with this is use it as a comparison after your test drives. After you test drive all of your choices you will list them from most enjoyable to least enjoyable to drive. How do the lists compare? We'll get to that soon.
Used Car Guide Step three:Financing
Before you set foot on your sellers property, set up basic financing if you have decided against paying for the vehicle in full from your own bank account. This will help you calculate what you can truly afford and what you will have to
the selling price to. This will also allow you to go from vehicle source to vehicle source knowing you have "X" amount of dollars to spend. You may be wondering about the dealers lower interest rates which are sometimes available on their used cars. If you are able to qualify for these interest rates then great, you don't have to take the prearranged loan and it didn't cost you anything to have it as a back-up. The reasons we believe this is a smart way to go about purchasing a pre-owned vehicle is it allows simpler negotiations at the dealership , it allows you to shop competitive interest rates before the pressure of the salespeople get to you, it will remove your dependency on dealership financing allowing you the confidance to walk away knowing what your total purchase cost really and of course this route encourages you to stay within your budget.
You can use either
Used Car Guide Step four: Choosing a vehicle source
There are basically four places to purchase a pre-owned vehicle for the general public.
Rental car companies
Private party sellers
Car dealers and private party sellers are the most common sources for buying pre-owned vehicles. Of these two sources the private seller is most likely going to have the best price (approx 20% less then local dealers) and hopefully will have been the only owner of the vehicle you are looking at giving you the opportunity to ask about service history (do they have receipts), who mostly drove the car, and accidents. You may also have a much more relaxed experience by purchasing this way since you will both probably have similar experience with the car market. The downside to buying off of a private seller is the extra risk and leg work involved. Purchasing CarProof and CarFax reports to be sure of the sellers claim. Certification process and financing (see step three). Transferring of the title/ownership. Remember, that a private seller has an easier time getting away with fraudulent claims since it is most times your word against theirs. Do your due diligence with our help to be sure you have all your bases covered.
Rental and Lease companies are the second least expensive source for purchasing vehicles. Both are generally well maintained and come with very good guarantees. The vehicles are normally within four years old and will have 30 to 95 000 kms on them. Some rental companies are Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, National and Discount. Rental agencies usually will have sales year round but late summer and early fall aare normally the best times since this is when most new model years arrive. Check your local listings for both Leasing companies and Rental agencies and make some calls to see when and if they have sales.
Car dealers for the most part are normally the most expensive. The extra cost does allow you to have very minimal extra leg work though. They will proviide you with a one stop shop if you so desire and are also held to a higher legal standard than the private seller. Do your homework through used car guides and the dealers themselves, find out if they provide any lower interest rates, free warranties, strong certifiction processes etc. Ask them why their prices are "X" amount of dollars higher then the average private seller and Rental/Leasing company. Make them justify the extra cost, then negotiate. You may be surprised at the extras you are able to get from a dealer.
Used Car Guide Step five:Test drive
Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few makes and models and you have picked what source(s) you want to purchase your vehicle from its time for the look and feel portion of the buying process. Find your vehicles in your area that match with your list. You can find vehicles on many websites, for example autotrader.ca and autotrader.com. Once you have located the vehicles take a weekday/evening and make appointments for all of your choices, preferrably a couple vehicles for each make and model choice. Tell the seller that you are very interested but you have to view a couple of vehicles that day before you can make you final decision. Take a notepad and of course take your time to go over the vehicle with a fine toothed comb. Remember that this is not a new car and therefore all vehicles will have differences. Check the comfort of all of the seating positions, check the cargo area and then go for a drive. Take the vehicle on both a city route and a highway route. City driving will give you a good feeling for squeaks and rattles with the rougher roads and will give you a feeling of the braking system. Highway driving will allow you to feel acceleration while going onto the highway, heavy breaking once you are exiting and windnoise, handling and stability while driving along. Take at minimum a twenty minute drive. Once you have tried all of the vehicles, list them from most enjoyable to least enjoyable and compare it to your total cost list. Do they have any similarities? After you have compiled your list rating your choices from most satisfying to least satisfying arrange to go and view the top couple of choices again. We suggest making another appointment within a day or at maximum two days after your initial visit, this way there will be a stronger chance that the vehicle will still be available. Although, if it is not, don't worry there will be another one available soon enough. Of course emotions sometimes do get the better of us and we instantly fall in love with one specific car, if this is the case feel free to do as you please and do a quick comparison and move into negotiations (we do advise against this of course, think with your head not your heart in the car buying process). Once the appointments have been made with the seller, ask them if it is alright to take the vehicle to your mechanic. Arrange to have your own mechanic (that you trust) view the vehicle on a hoist. Take the vehicle on an extended test drive 45 minutes to an hour at minimum and visit your mechanic. Have him/her compile a list of repairs that are needed and that may be needed in the near future. After returning from your drive and mechanics inspection inform the seller of what your mechanic has found. If you decide that you wish to purchase this vehicle proceed to negotiations, if not tell the seller that it just didn't meet with your criteria and move to another vehicle on your list. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to find your match, remember this is not a race.
Used Car Guide Step six:Negotiations
Negotiating a used car is a little different then a new car. A used car guide will normally give you these guidelines to follow.
Only enter into negotiations with a seller (private or company representative) you feel comfortable with
Make an opening offer that is low (remember wholesale pricing), but not so low that it is well below any profit line. Side note: compile a reminder list for certifiction costs, license transfer etc.
Remember how high you are willing to go and leave when your limit's reached
Walk out but politely — this is a strong negotiating tool if you are not making much headway and allows for a possible return later
Give yourself some time — negotiating could take an hour or more
Leave the dealership and return later if you get tired, hungry or irritated. An unfocused mind is deadly when negotiating
Don't be distracted from your mission by pitches for related items such as extended warranties or rustproofing etc.
Expect a "closer" many times the sales manager to try and get some extra dollars from you before they agree or say they can't do that deal
Again, walk away, if the deal can't be met. It is truly a strong tool
Remember be pleasant but firm in your stance. Being rude or too easy going will derail your desire to get a good deal with as little stress as possible
This guideline which is listed in one form or another in many used car guides for negotiating will give you a strong idea as to the basics. Read
new car negotiating
to further your knowledge.
Used Car Guide Step seven: Finalizing the deal
If you have purchased a vehicle from a private seller, the deal is close to being done now. Give them either a certified cheque, money order or cash, although before any money changes hands, get the title/ownership signed over to you. The laws pertaining to vehicle registrations and licensing are different everywhere. Check the DMV (dept. of motor vehicles) or Minstry of Transportation websites to gather all the information specific to your area before finalizing any deals.
Buying from a dealer is a mlti-stage process for finalizing a deal. Negotiated with salesperson, then a "closer" but you got your deal. A sigh of relief. But wait, now you head to the back office with F&I (finance and insurance) on the door. The F&I manager will walk you through all of the proper paperwork and then will "advise" you of various products and services. Check out an in depth review of
used car guide - F&I process
. Follow his or her advice on the paperwork and licensing only. If you decide to purchase any extra products or services leave that for after you have seen the original bill, finance papers etc.
Used Car Guide : Known Scams
These are some of the most common tricks or scams.
Lowering the price for Tax puposes: Don't fall for this. Remember that the false price is what is listed on the bill. If you ever need to be refunded (falsified information on the bill/lemon law) you would be refunded the lowered amount. Also you can be charged with being an accessory with fraud.
Fake Private Sellers: Curbsiders. Dealer affiliates that lure unsuspecting buyers in with lower prices. They not only break tax laws but consumer protection laws as well.
Exchange/Money-Back priveledge: Dishonest dealers will exchange one car for another. Great. Except the fine print states that there are handling/restocking fees or finders fees if the vehicle you are exchanging for is not readily available.
AS-IS: Used to get you to pay more so you are protected. Check out
for in depth information.
Mileage Rollback: Both manual and digital odometers can be rolledback. A vehicle history report will give you some piece of mind this is not the case.
Liens/Stolen vehicles: Use a history report for this also to be sure this is not occuring with your deisired purchase
Canadian Black Book
Kelly Blue Book