I’m considering buying a used car. I’ve never done this before, and I know nothing about cars. I’m worried I’ll buy a lemon, or over pay. I also want a sports car, but I’m in my fifties. Am I too old for that?
– I Want a New Sports Car!
Dear I Want a New Sports Car:
Sports cars are fun, and you are never too old to own one. These cars can be very low to the ground and can make you feel like you’re doing deep knee bends getting in and out of them. If you are comfortable with that, and like how it drives when you’re behind the wheel – buy it!
The concern about overpaying is real. To find out the value of specific makes/models/years in your area go to http://www.kbb.com. Enter all the of the details of the car and your zip code. It will give you a price range. With this information you can negotiate a price you are comfortable with. There are other sites that will supply the same guidelines. You can find these by searching “Car Values in my area.”
One tactic that has been successful for me in getting a better price, has been to leave the dealership when they don’t meet my price request. You do risk losing the car, but it has been successful for me multiple times in getting the price down. It also helps to be preapproved for a loan amount prior to shopping.
Last, but most important, how do you know you aren’t getting a lemon? These are the steps I take:
• Look up the make/model/year online for recurring maintenance issues, recalls etc.
• Request a Carfax report. This will show any accidents and may show maintenance history
• Ask for the records for all oil change, maintenance, and repair work
• If you have a friend who is knowledgeable about cars and with a mechanical aptitude, invite them along to check out the car
• Have the car checked by an independent mechanic
There is no guarantee even with these steps that the car is not a lemon. However, following them can increase the likelihood that you will get a car that is in good condition!
Good luck and enjoy your new car.