USED AUTOMOBILE SALES - BUY A BARGAIN
How do a diagnostic test drive and purchase a reliable used automobile
whether it is a late model or older vehicle
by studying the make and model repair history
Frugal Living Tips
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September 16, 2004 Issue

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS
  1. THE BEST DEAL WHEN BUYING AN AUTOMOBILE
    We think a used late model car is better than new
  2. RICK'S INCREDIBLY SIMPLE USED AUTOMOBILE TEST
    You don't need to open the hood with this diagnostic test drive
  3. BUYING A LATE MODEL USED AUTOMOBILE
    Studying the repair history gets you a reliable car
  4. BUYING AN OLDER MODEL USED CAR
    Get a great car for thousands less
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#1. THE BEST DEAL WHEN BUYING AN AUTOMOBILE
We think a used late model car is better than new

A late model used car will cost much less than new and save you on insurance, interest and taxes. In addition you will be buying a more reliable car, if you have bought a make and model with an excellent repair history. A new car does not have a repair history, but with used cars you can be reasonably certain you are getting a reliable model. Consumer Reports in their annual buying guide has extensive data on automobiles, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles for the last eight years. You may be able to find a copy at your local library.

The time for best deals during the year on used cars is February and November.

For more about automobiles go to our special detailed section about automobiles at:
TABLE OF CONTENTS, TOC, automobile discounts. Buy a new or used vehicle and save $1000s; avoid repair ripoffs. Car costs; automobile discounts - buying, leasing, repairing. Consumer guide to frugal living.



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#2. RICK'S INCREDIBLY SIMPLE USED AUTOMOBILE TEST
You don't need to open the hood with this diagnostic test drive

Before you go to the bother and expense to have a used car checked out by a mechanic, you can run this simple test. If it passes this test and you like the car, take it to a mechanic for a more thorough look. I recommend doing this on a highway when there is little or no traffic. Drive an automobile, that has warmed-up for at least five minutes, from a full stop to about 55 MPH, accelerating smoothly and quickly. Notice how the gears shift, any hesitation, any roughness in the running of the engine, any shaking of the tires, body or steering wheel. Take your hands off the steering wheel for just a moment. Does the automobile drift to one side or the other? Then bring the vehicle to a full stop. As you apply the brakes, does it pull left or right when you take your hands briefly off the wheel? If possible swerve the car to the left then to the right; does it sway too much? If it passes all these tests, the auto is probably running fine; if not, run the test again and note any problems.



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#3. BUYING A LATE MODEL USED AUTOMOBILE
Studying the repair history gets you a reliable car

If you buy a late used model car, you can get top quality, a substantial discount, plus current and tested technology. Never buy a used car without looking at the repair history for that particular model. Always pay to have a mechanic thoroughly check all systems. Never buy such an automobile without checking its history through a service like CarFax.com and verifying, among other things, that the mileage on the odometer is accurate and that the car has not been in an accident. This same advice holds true for buying an older model used auto in the next section.

You can buy a late model automobile from a new car dealer, a used car lot or an individual. I would recommend buying from either a new car dealership where regulations are a bit stricter than used car lots or buying from an individual.

FREE CARFAX Check 2


#4. BUYING AN OLDER MODEL USED AUTOMOBILE
Get a reliable car for thousands less

If you decide to buy an older model, the repair history for the model is even more important. Defects are bound to show up as the car ages. Yet it is quite possible to buy a car with 80,000 miles on it and run it for years of satisfactory and reliable operation.

With an older model I recommend buying from an individual. After years of buying cars in this market myself, I have found that dealers do not know the background of the used automobiles they sell. They have often bought the car from a wholesaler and don't have the time or money to have it checked out. While they might vacuum the inside and polish the outside, the parts that really count such as the engine are pretty much ignored. As long as the car starts okay and doesn't send a cloud of smoke out the back, the dealer is satisfied.

Individuals will generally sell an automobile for a lot less than a new car dealership, perhaps half-way between the trade-in value for the car and the retail value as listed by a used automobile blue book service.

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