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When I split with my husband, I left him the Volvo, the apartment, the wall-to-wall carpeting, and the TV. That’s how badly I wanted out. Then I bought myself a used car, a junker with a gaping hole where the radio should have been. The glove box wouldn’t stay closed. The car sometimes stopped for no reason. Belts snapped, tires blew, engine heads were blown.

So I speak from experience when I tell you there are right ways and wrong ways for divorced women to buy a used car. Obviously if you and your husband have divided the six vintage cars in the garage, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you and he had one car, and he keeps it, and you need one... and if your credit is pretty much like everyone else’s, and if banks and car dealers are not making car loans... you may find yourself as a free agent, trying to pay cash for a car that will run, won’t break down, and especially won’t kill you.

For argument sake, I’ve chosen a budget of $5,000 to $6,000. At that price you are not likely to find a lot of cars at dealers showrooms (if you can find a dealer’s showroom, since they are all closing.)

Did I say “kill you” back there? Here’s a little known fact: some used cars have been in accidents where airbags have been deployed. And because airbags cost $1,000 or $2,000 or more to replace, sometimes the garage, sometimes the owner, just don’t replace them.

Then the car is put up for sale, “as is.”

So you may buy a car that is equipped with airbags — but instead of functioning airbags there are plastic packing peanuts, or Styrofoam cups, or a used airbag. Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,www.carbuyingtips.com, a friend who has worked at a dealership (he calls it a “stealership”) and a source who has bought and sold many cars, here is the FWW guide to buying a used car.

Never buy a car from a used car dealer with an “as is” sticker. If a dealer won’t back a used car with a 30-day warranty, you don’t want it. With a private sale, you have to buy the car “as is,” but more on that later.

What should you buy? Obviously gas price is a serious consideration. But if you drive just short distances, and need an SUV for carpooling, now is the time to buy a good one. They are being deeply discounted, because no one wants them.

You’ve always wanted a Toyota? Too bad. Those Japanese cars go forever and keep their value. That includes Nissans, Subarus, and Hondas.

Domestic cars will give you the best value, which is to say they will be the newest and have the lowest mileage for the money. That’s because of their high depreciation; the minute they are driven off the lot as new cars their value craters.

For $5,000 or $6,000 you can get a four-to-six-year-old Ford Taurus or a Chevy Malibu with 60,000 to 80,000 miles. I recently bought a 1991 Toyota half-ton pickup truck, with only 50,000 miles on it. That thing not only looks cool, and is useful, it is going to run for another 200,000 miles. I got lucky. (My son the gearhead helped me find it.)

Don’t be afraid about buying a used car, even if you don’t have a gearhead son. If well maintained (if you’re buying privately, ask to see the service records and receipts) any domestic car will run for another 50,000 miles without any major repairs. An average driver goes 15,000 miles a year, so that’s three years of use.

Don’t necessarily buy from a dealer. A dealer won’t have those maintenance records, and can’t look you in the eye and tell you anything honest about where this car has been. You should look up technical service bulletins on the Internet, to see if there have been serious problems with the particular model you’re looking at. And check the car’s warranty in the owner’s manual. It’s possible, there are some parts of the car that might still be under warranty, like the engine/transmission/power train. If so, aren’t you the lucky one?

You can expect to get a used car that should still provide reliable daily transportation, but may show some expected use, a dent or two, some scratches, and minor interior wear.

In the next installment, we’ll tell you enough so you’ll feel like an expert, or at least not feel helpless. Buying a car is a big decision, and you should know as much about it as possible.

 

Related Content:

How to Buy a Used Car
Auto Insurance: Vital Tips You Need to Know

 

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6 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 08 November 2011 07:21 posted by Guest

    Benefits of buying used car: i want to add some benefits of buying used cars
    1. The most important things that you are able to save you money on insurance and tax.
    2. If you do your deal smartly than bargaining is possible.
    3. Now used cars are more reliable than they available before.
    4. sometimes you able to get a car with factory warranty.
    5. history of used cars is also available with vehicle identification number.

    So their are many benefits of buying a used cars and if you purchased it from loyal dealer than you are free from all issues of reliable performance.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 31 May 2011 11:10 posted by Guest

    What to Know Before Buying a Used Car: Hello, I'll be buying my first car soon. The thing is, I don't know the first thing about cars and I don't have a clue what questions I should ask about a car before buying it. What do I need to know and ask about a car to help me decide if I shoudl buy it or not?

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 15 March 2011 02:32 posted by Guest

    Your hard earned cash: Your hard earned cash deserves a good respect. So, if you are planning to invest them in second hand (used) vehicle you ought to keep following points in your mind.
    1) Most importantly, thoroughly analyze the interior parts of the vehicle. Highly used and unused car both of them might posses problem in its engine.
    2) Check the suspension of the vehicle.
    3) It would be wise idea to check the body of the vehicle at a good light.
    3) Check the brake, clutch, steering and tyres as well.
    4) After completing the process of the inspection don't forget to have a short test drive.
    Alternatively you can hire an expert machine to check the vehicle and to determine its price.

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 04 December 2010 04:10 posted by Guest

    Additional TIPS IN BUYING USED CARS: TIPS IN BUYING USED CARS : (I hope some of this Itenerary plan will help )

    1. Formulate a financial program that includes the price of the car, insurance, road taxes, fuel, petroleum oil and service maintenance.

    2. You need to consciously determine the reason why you are buying a car. Deciding on the type of car, brand and model is purely dependent on your need. Establishing where and how you are going to pay the car should be strongly considered, a possible individual or corporation loan is one option for this type of purchase.

    3. Try to look around and scout for your ideal car from different individual car owners and available websites like the AutoTrust Philippines which is a "One-Stop-Shop" of Auto shopping network that provides personalized service, assistance and information to clients who are in need of a Brand New Car, Used Car and other financial concerns and services available at a very low and flexible interest rates.

    4. If possible, try to buy a car which came from the first owner and carefully verify the papers, this would save you from future headaches. Check the logbook (V5) and cautiously ensure that the name matches with the seller and make sure to get the service records history.

    5. Never inspect the car during night time, do it during day time with the supervision of a mechanic or somebody you know who knows cars, they may notice effectively what you may ignore during the actual inspection. This way, you get the best value out of your money.

    6. Never inspect the car in a place like shopping malls, fast food chains, car parks and letting them drive it to you, do it in the seller’s house.

    7. Always ask for a test drive. This way, you will be able to pay attention to the humps, shatters or noises that could probably signify a minor or major trouble. While driving, it allows you more time to make critical decision based on what you observed. More importantly be prepared for a bargain, negotiate directly to the seller and do not buy the car right away. It is also imperative to mention that you are in an immediate need of buying a car, but you are still looking around for other possible options and are very much sensitive with the price.

    Regards,
    AutoTrust

  • Comment Link Guest Thursday, 23 April 2009 10:47 posted by Guest

    reply: Ask to see a record of the car's maintenance. Look to see that the car had regular oil changes and checkups (maintenance schedules will vary by model). Also, inquire about additional work that has been done on the car and ask to see receipts.

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 14 April 2009 11:49 posted by Guest

    I was lucky when I bought my: I was lucky when I bought my first used car. I'm single and don't have many friends that know how a used car should look in order to still work a few years more. I went with my instinct and asked my friends to ask their friends if they're selling a car. This way I thought no one would try to scam me. I found the car, it seemed ok, the price was more than acceptable so I bought it. When I wanted to give it a scrub I emptied the glove compartment only to find a card from a truck accident attorney. I called around and found out the guy I bought the car from had an accident with it a few months ago, an aspect that was never brought to my attention. I got all my money back because of this and finally found another car that has never been in an accident. It's rusty and works only when it wants but at least I know it has the original components.