Buying the perfect used car

After purchasing a home, the second highest expenditure for consumers is purchasing a new car, averaging $28,000 (in 2009). Drive off the lot in that new car and its value immediately plummets. Why not pocket those dollars by purchasing a quality used car?

The used car buyer's manual II : how to get the best buy on a private-party sale
David J. Buechel.
Newbury Park, CA : Pyramid West Pub., c1996.
"Includes directory of reliable used cars and vehicle inspection checklist"--Cover.
The Haynes used car buying guide : the Haynes manual for evaluating and buying a used car
by Mike Stubblefield and John H. Haynes.
Sparkford Nr Yeovil, Somerset, England : Haynes Pub. Group ; Newbury Park, Calif. : Haynes North America, c1995.
Subtitled: Guide to Inspecting and Buying a Used Car. Written for the do-it-yourselfer, good enough for the pro! Find hidden rust, spot crash damage, detect body filler, size up a car with a 10-minute walk-around, find mechanical problems, road-test the vehicle, plus checklists to insure you get what you pay for. Sftbd., 8 1/2x 11, 160 pgs., 164 b&w ill.

Pre-owned vehicles are generally available through two venues. First, individuals may sell their car independently by advertising on the car itself, in newspaper classified columns, or on Internet websites. Second, auto manufacturers provide used car sales departments, often attached to their new car dealership, and offer both general used cars as well as Certified Pre-owned vehicles that are accompanied by a manufacturer's warranty. Regardless of the venue, negotiation, except in the area of safety, is always the key to acquiring the right vehicle.

Research before you buy

Car Talk --

Get advice from radio personalities, Tom and Ray Magliozzi.

CarFax --

Uncover any accident history using the car's unique vehicle identification number.

Numerous tools are available to assist the inexperienced car buyer in making a good decision when purchasing a used car. With a manufacturer and make or model in mind, research safety standards, current car values and owner satisfaction in a variety of consumer guides. Test drive each car under consideration to identify noises, compare handling and sniff out a suitable interior environment. Assess the number of previous owners and ask for detailed maintenance records. Read through the manufacturer's maintenance schedule, and deduct any current mileage maintenance needs from a monetary offer. Be prepared to replace tires for increased safety and handling.

Never attempt to purchase a used car without conducting basic background research into the vehicle. Armed with information, consumers are certain to make good decisions, negotiate an appropriate price and drive away in a quality used car, with long-term savings in their pocket.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff