We just recently purchased a 7 passenger Ford Explorer. Buying a car tends to consume your life while you are doing it. You notice cars everywhere. You pay attention to the feel of the seats, and hurt your neck trying to look at used car dealerships when you pass.
Here are a few tips on how to buy a used car Eventual Millionaire style:
Finding the Right Vehicle
1. Pick your criteria.
We created a list of what we needed functionally so we could find the right vehicle for our needs.
We ranked our criteria from most to least important:
Fits 7 people
Has 4WD or AWD
Less than $10,000
Good gas mileage
Great storage space (for my husband’s show) or trailer hitch
2. Do your research.
Before we even looked at any vehicles we wrote down ones we thought we liked. Then we researched possible used cars using Edmunds.com. Edmunds will show you vehicles that are similar to the one you looked up, which helps in finding the best car for your situation.
3. Have your list and research tools available when you go.
Have your criteria list, and a list of what cars you want to test drive. Check online to find the best places and prices in your area. But when you go, try to have a smart phone or something with internet so you can do research on location.
This was extremely important for us. Though we researched a TON beforehand, we didn’t look up every car. There was a Chrysler Pacifica that was 6 passengers and it seemed like a great touring vehicle. It drove nice, but we looked up the reviews and they weren’t great. My iPhone paid for itself that day. 🙂
4. Mitigate Your Risk.
Before you buy a car make sure you take it to a mechanic. If you can’t take it beforehand make sure you can return the car if your mechanic finds issues. Get it in writing too! (Not necessarily because used car salesmen are slimy, although some are, but because they probably won’t remember if it takes a few days.) Many used car dealers just buy cars from the auction and do almost no work on them.
Getting the Best Price
1. Test drive a car (without the salesman) and drive it to a different dealer. Then say “Do you have a better deal than this?”
This was fun. We took a car that we really liked and test drove it. We stopped at another car dealer to look at what they had. We would walk in and say, We are pretty sure we are going to buy this car right here, but I wanted to see if you could give us any better deal.
The salesmen were in awe. 🙂 But they tried to give us a better deal. We could compare the cars side by side and decide which one we liked better.
2. Pay Cash. I’ve found that car dealers like to talk in terms of monthly payments instead of how much the car actually costs. When you only have cash the salesmen not only discusses the full price, but they understand that you have limited funds. There is a hard line that stops you from overspending.
Last week we were able to have three different dealerships give us the price we wanted for one of their cars because we said we only had our trade in and $5,000 cash. (our trade in was technically worth $3,500-$4,000 and the car we ended up buying had a sticker price of $12,500)
I had a friend that bought a new car. She was so excited because she thought she couldn’t afford it but got a good deal. She told me the story of the salesman going out back to talk to the manager and was able to get the payment down $120 per month. I tried to explain that I didn’t think she talked him down in price, they changed the term of the loan.
She now had a 6 year car loan instead of 5. Instead of paying less for a car, she was paying more in interest. That is going to hurt your bottom line long term.
3. Don’t get emotional!
This is important. Don’t get attached to a car. It’s just a car.
I can say that now because I was so attached to the brand new car we bought before we got out of debt. I had imagined taking home our first child in it, and driving to preschool. It looked sleek and cool too. I would be the coolest mom on the block!
Selling the car after only two months allowed me to let go of my emotional attachment to it. Somehow it broke the spell, and I no longer get attached to cars. It’s just a car.
When you are buying a car, keep your logical head on. This isn’t the only car like it. Don’t be afraid that someone else is looking at it. Every day cars come and go.
Good luck finding the perfect vehicle at a great price!
Do you have any good used car buying tips?