Advice for Used Car Buying

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GoUBears
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Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by GoUBears » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:23 am

Best strategies for buying a used car in cash when the timeline is not fixed and the exact car is somewhat flexible?

Background: We need to replace a 15 year old minivan in the next 6 months and plan to once again buy a 2-4 year old car in cash and drive it until it dies. We have in mind 2 different replacement models (Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Rogue with 3rd row) based upon research, rides, etc and don't feel particularly emotionally tied to either, just preferring the best value for the car. Right now there are a couple of used options in a 75 mile radius that are not great value based upon TrueCar and Kbb, so we're comfortable waiting. All 3 are new enough to dealership that they aren't being very flexible on price at this point.

I will continue using online car search resources at regular intervals to find something, but am open to other strategies. Would I be better off reaching out to car dealerships for these the brands and letting them know that I'm in the market for a model off a lease or as trade in? Would this result in me being at a negotiating disadvantage in the end? Any better strategies for this situation? TIA

Teague
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Teague » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:47 am

Rental outfits (Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, etc.) have sales outlets that can work well for this sort of purchase. The no-haggle price is usually good, and the cars have been maintained properly. If you're looking for a base-model car around 3 years old with roughly 30K miles on it, that's where I'd look. Last one we got this way came with new brand new brake pads and rotors. It was a painless buying experience.
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Kencufc
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Kencufc » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:52 am

In my experience, the best time to buy a car is when you don't need one! Then there is no pressure on you, and walking away is easy. Don't shy away from Craigslist or private sellers unless that's just not your thing.

Check out the 3 row Mitsubishi Outlander, it is pretty inexpensive and has gotten good reviews.

orca91
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by orca91 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:54 am

You're in a good spot not needing the car soon and not being too attached to any single vehicle. Leave your name and contact info with the dealers having the cars you are interested in, let them know what you want to pay, and sit and wait for a phone call. It's pretty likely you would get a call from one of them somewhat soon with a decent deal. If not,... keep waiting.

One of these cars will probably sit on the lot too long and the dealer will want to move it.

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Raymond
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Raymond » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:19 pm

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inbox788
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by inbox788 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:49 pm

How much are they asking for the used cars? How much are you getting for the trade-in? For net $10k, might do it. For $15k+, I'd look elsewhere.
Why not keep the minivan? Any reason it doesn't have another 5-10 years of life left? Why not buy new minivan or other vehicle with high residual value? When you buy used, consider vehicles that depreciate more like Ford Explorer or Dodge Minivan. Widen your search parameters, both with cars you'd consider as well as geographically. What's your distance to nearest big city (>1M population)? You should be choosing among dozens or hundreds of good choices, not 3 bad choices.

investor997
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by investor997 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:16 pm

I bought my previous two cars from private parties on Craigslist and Cars.com. I've had good luck doing this and I like being able to interview the previous owner to get a sense of how good they were with maintenance. You do need to be aware of typical Craigslist-style scams; ALWAYS run Carfax reports.

GoUBears
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by GoUBears » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:32 pm

inbox788 wrote:How much are they asking for the used cars? How much are you getting for the trade-in? For net $10k, might do it. For $15k+, I'd look elsewhere.
Why not keep the minivan? Any reason it doesn't have another 5-10 years of life left? Why not buy new minivan or other vehicle with high residual value? When you buy used, consider vehicles that depreciate more like Ford Explorer or Dodge Minivan. Widen your search parameters, both with cars you'd consider as well as geographically. What's your distance to nearest big city (>1M population)? You should be choosing among dozens or hundreds of good choices, not 3 bad choices.
We're looking to spend $15-17k and would like mileage under 40k. The minivan is becoming the 3rd car for the teenager to drive, so no trade-in. It's reached the point where the breakdowns/repair needs are frequent enough that we are ready to get a more reliable replacement.

We are willing to go up to 200 miles away and that gives us Boston and Northern NE. We are needing AWD and large enough for several hockey players and their equipment. Not excited about Explorer that we drove and generally prefer the higher ground clearance of SUV style with badly plowed early AM road trips in NE. Have looked at Outlander and don't mind it, but local supply is quite slim.

Have reached out to a few Craigslist private sale options, but it seems all were upside down on their loans and unable to hear that they were asking $3-7k above KBB. Dealers seem less emotionally invested in the cars and willing to deal.

Appreciate everyone's input, I will keep up my searches and call the nearby dealers to tell them what I'm looking for. Hopefully my patience will pay off eventually.

livesoft
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by livesoft » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:38 pm

I would leave my phone number with those dealers that have the cars you want at too high a price and tell them: "Call me when you are ready to sell at a reasonable price when you need to meet your sales quota."
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samjuno
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Hidden gems on Craiglist

Post by samjuno » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:05 am

Read a lot of Craiglist ads until you get a feel for the promising ones. My experience was that the ads without photos tend to be ignored, esp. if it states something about the price being "firm". I lucked into a great deal from a retired couple that way. Saved several thousands of $$ compared to what the dealerships were asking.

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traveltoomuch
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by traveltoomuch » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:01 am

I also encourage more patience with Craigslist. Set a Craigslist alert for some suitable keywords, restricted to "by owner" ads. You'll still get some dealers, curbstoning or otherwise, as well as some ads that just have filler keywords, but it's a good start. And then sit back and wait.

Private sellers are a mixed bag. As you've seen, some are unrealistic. Others are quite realistic - they have pulled their own kbb/edmunds quotes or they have a firm quote for Carmax to buy their car or similar - they know what they can get. Just be prepared to offer it to them. In cash. Quickly. Be the buyer that the seller wants to work with - know what you want, know what you're willing to pay, have the cash available to do the deal, and keep your appointments. If the seller prefers a cashier's check, indulge him and eat the $5 fee to get a check. Negotiate as needed, but not over the last $50 or $100. Or even $500 - if it's the right car at a good price, bite. Show up with a screwdriver and 10mm socket to help the seller remove his license plates (depending on the state). And show up with an extra driver so you can take the car home the same day.

As samjuno says, sometimes the most unappealing c-l ad can be your best bet - it can be annoying to have to ask about all the details, but fewer photos and details in the ad mean fewer people competing with you for the car.

There will, of course, be differing opinions re: c-l. I prefer learning more about the car's history - most dealers don't have meaningful maintenance records. And c-l not only means a better listed price (usually), it means no surprise dealer "fees".

GoUBears
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by GoUBears » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:35 pm

Thanks for all the helpful advice on better strategies for Craigslist. Looks like I'm going to invest a bit more time in setting up my alerts and actually following through when people have crappy, no picture ads.

fittan
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by fittan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:36 am

Gobears, I would advise against buying 2-4 years old Mazda. The "small overlap front" test of the CX9 is a worst possible "Poor". Check out the links, videos and pictures below. Unless you don't mind have your knees crushed in a 40 mph crash...I would stay clear from older Mazda (newer models I think are better).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qXOiri3vTU

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicl ... r-suv/2015

takingcharge
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by takingcharge » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:05 am

traveltoomuch wrote:I also encourage more patience with Craigslist. Set a Craigslist alert for some suitable keywords, restricted to "by owner" ads. You'll still get some dealers, curbstoning or otherwise, as well as some ads that just have filler keywords, but it's a good start. And then sit back and wait.

Private sellers are a mixed bag. As you've seen, some are unrealistic. Others are quite realistic - they have pulled their own kbb/edmunds quotes or they have a firm quote for Carmax to buy their car or similar - they know what they can get. Just be prepared to offer it to them. In cash. Quickly. Be the buyer that the seller wants to work with - know what you want, know what you're willing to pay, have the cash available to do the deal, and keep your appointments. If the seller prefers a cashier's check, indulge him and eat the $5 fee to get a check. Negotiate as needed, but not over the last $50 or $100. Or even $500 - if it's the right car at a good price, bite. Show up with a screwdriver and 10mm socket to help the seller remove his license plates (depending on the state). And show up with an extra driver so you can take the car home the same day.

As samjuno says, sometimes the most unappealing c-l ad can be your best bet - it can be annoying to have to ask about all the details, but fewer photos and details in the ad mean fewer people competing with you for the car.

There will, of course, be differing opinions re: c-l. I prefer learning more about the car's history - most dealers don't have meaningful maintenance records. And c-l not only means a better listed price (usually), it means no surprise dealer "fees".
This is exactly what I did. I knew the make/model I wanted, was flexible on color, and wanted a 2015-2016. Over the course of a few weeks, several options popped up on Craigslist. I met the seller for a test drive, made it clear I was a cash buyer and could close the deal ASAP. He paid off his loan and got the title. I pulled a Carfax and confirmed a clean, one owner history complete with service records. CarMax offered him $21K, and I knew I would pay $24.5-25K from a dealer plus their fees and putting up with their sales tactics. We settled on $22K and after going to my bank to get the cashier's check, we went to the local county tax office to transfer title to make sure no issues popped up. I received the title in my name a few weeks later.

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dm200
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by dm200 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:27 am

While not actively searching to buy an older used car, I do a scan/search from time to time on Craigslist. Two "interesting" things I am finding:

1. Some of the cars listed under individuals (vs dealer) seem to be from some sort of "dealer". Be aware of this

2. There is a mileage range search, but to "get around" being excluded from a search, folks are listing mileage as, for example, 112 instead of 112,000.

nhdean
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by nhdean » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:49 am

Buying a used car from a dealer can be tough. Usually when it first shows up on the lot dealers are not too flexible. Unlike new cars you don't get rebates to offset vehicle depreciation. The dealer owns the car for a mount and that does not change regardless of how long it sits there.

Some dealerships will send a vehicle that has not sold after a certain amount of time to make sure they do not lose money on it. I would say watch the vehicles. After a few months you will either see a price drop online or you can negotiate a better deal. Remember doing this you can lose out on good vehicles.

Craiglist sellers usually are people trying to sell their vehicles for more than what a dealership will give them. They are usually asking retail prices. You are also not given any sort of warranty and they are not inspected. Yes you can pay more from the dealer but you are also taking a lot of the guess work out of buying a car.

also, online buying sites that give out values on vehicles are not valid. It is only worth what someone will write a check for it. Unless they are willing to buy it then the number means nothing.

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dm200
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by dm200 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:02 pm

nhdean wrote:Buying a used car from a dealer can be tough. Usually when it first shows up on the lot dealers are not too flexible. Unlike new cars you don't get rebates to offset vehicle depreciation. The dealer owns the car for a mount and that does not change regardless of how long it sits there.
Some dealerships will send a vehicle that has not sold after a certain amount of time to make sure they do not lose money on it. I would say watch the vehicles. After a few months you will either see a price drop online or you can negotiate a better deal. Remember doing this you can lose out on good vehicles.
Craiglist sellers usually are people trying to sell their vehicles for more than what a dealership will give them. They are usually asking retail prices. You are also not given any sort of warranty and they are not inspected. Yes you can pay more from the dealer but you are also taking a lot of the guess work out of buying a car.
also, online buying sites that give out values on vehicles are not valid. It is only worth what someone will write a check for it. Unless they are willing to buy it then the number means nothing.
Have never done this, but I was told that dealers do not, normally, hold on to trade-ins over a certain age. They normally just wholesale them. They, apparently, do not want to be (or be perceived) in the old model used car sales business. Sometimes, though, the sales folks at dealers can learn of a really good, much older car and can sell it immediately - before it gets sold to a wholesaler. I believe a key here is to get it all done very quickly. Maybe (if you can have a good relationship) a car salesperson at a dealership can spot one of these. They certainly exist when someone has had a newly purchased, low mileage car for a long time and then trades it in.

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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by nhdean » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:06 pm

I have worked a dealership for almost 2 decades. Usually vehicles will go to wholesalers when the dealership feels they can not sell it, it could be a high mileage vehicle, a very old vehicle or a specialty vehicle like a jaguar that it does not usually sell. They will wholesale it out to make the most money it can and not have to sit on it.

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dm200
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by dm200 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:47 pm

nhdean wrote:I have worked a dealership for almost 2 decades. Usually vehicles will go to wholesalers when the dealership feels they can not sell it, it could be a high mileage vehicle, a very old vehicle or a specialty vehicle like a jaguar that it does not usually sell. They will wholesale it out to make the most money it can and not have to sit on it.
Right, as I have been told. But, have you seen any of these cars intercepted and sold quickly from the dealership?

Vehicles sitting, unsold, in the dealer inventory is an ongoing cost to the dealership - and they do not want that situation.

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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by nhdean » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:52 pm

The ones I see sold fast to wholesalers are usually very unique vehicles. They tend to be very old, in very bad shape, really high miles and very unique vehicles. Any vehicle that is desirable to them they are going to keep and sell it themselves first. They make more money selling it retail than wholesale.

MathWizard
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by MathWizard » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:51 am

I've bought lots of used cars.

When you've settled on a car, take down the VIN, and get a CarFax report for it.
Not a total guarantee, but it should help you avoid cars that have been in an accident
that you didn't know about.

Hedgie
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Hedgie » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:40 pm

I used Carvana. Flew from NJ to Altanta and drove back. Was a good no haggle experience.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Cobra Commander » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:41 pm

I set my search parameters on cars.com with sorting from low price to high and added the search as a favorite and checked every day for a few months. One of the dealerships was sitting on the car for awhile and they eventually lowered the price significantly and I snatched it up that day. I think KBB is overvalued but it's useful as a guide if you can get the car for 10-20% below KBB price you're getting a decent deal.

I would only buy from a name brand dealer (i.e. Koons Ford or Something Nissan) rather than a generic place like Tom's Auto. Several places like Tom's Auto will show up as having a low-priced car but often times there are either crazy high fees listed in the fine print or you have to finance with them and the financing terms are onerous. Name brand dealers usually have an extra fee as well but it is more transparent.

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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Imbros » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:35 pm

GoUBears wrote:Background: We need to replace a 15 year old minivan in the next 6 months and plan to once again buy a 2-4 year old car in cash and drive it until it dies. We have in mind 2 different replacement models (Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Rogue with 3rd row) based upon research, rides, etc and don't feel particularly emotionally tied to either, just preferring the best value for the car.
Just a heads up that pre 2016 and 2016+ CX-9 are completely different animals. The first generation was based on Ford CD3 (Ford Edge, Fusion) platform whereas the new one based is on a 100% Mazda platform. I have heard great things about the newer one. Can't say the same for the old one.
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alfaspider
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by alfaspider » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:06 pm

Craigslist tends to work well for older fully-depreciated cars. It doesn't work all that great for late model cars. Once people get over the $10k or so pricepoint, they tend to work with dealerships.

People sometimes recommend carmax/carvana, etc. Nothing wrong with them, but understand you will usually pay more. I find "no haggle" to be mostly a silly gimmick. Every dealership is no haggle if you choose not to haggle.

I'd also second working with a franchise dealership where possible. Non-franchise used car lots mostly get their inventory through vehicle auctions. Cars usually go to auction when they can't sell at a franchise dealership. Unless you want a car with unusual options (i.e. manual transmission in a non-sports car), you are usually looking at second-rate inventory at a used car dealership with the potential for questionable maintenance history.

fittan
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by fittan » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:29 pm

Imbros wrote:
GoUBears wrote:Background: We need to replace a 15 year old minivan in the next 6 months and plan to once again buy a 2-4 year old car in cash and drive it until it dies. We have in mind 2 different replacement models (Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Rogue with 3rd row) based upon research, rides, etc and don't feel particularly emotionally tied to either, just preferring the best value for the car.
Just a heads up that pre 2016 and 2016+ CX-9 are completely different animals. The first generation was based on Ford CD3 (Ford Edge, Fusion) platform whereas the new one based is on a 100% Mazda platform. I have heard great things about the newer one. Can't say the same for the old one.
As of now, there's no IIHS rating for 2016+ CX-9. However the 2016 CX-3 and CX-5 both pass the small overlap test so I assume the 2016 CX-9 would too. In a nutshell if you want to get the CX-9, make sure it is 2016 and later model.

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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by deltaneutral83 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:32 pm

alfaspider wrote:Craigslist tends to work well for older fully-depreciated cars. It doesn't work all that great for late model cars. Once people get over the $10k or so pricepoint, they tend to work with dealerships.
I have a tremendous amount of experience buying cars on Craigslist and I would have to say......it varies. While you may feel people and their "newer" used cars head to the dealership rather than private sell, the only thing a buyer is looking for is the one guy that does have a "newer" used car that IS going the Craigslist route to sell. As you mentioned, the competition weeds out the more expensive the car on CL. I purchased a 2011 Honda CR-V in late 2015 for a great price, under what the DMV assessed it at for taxes, and ended up paying 60% MSRP with 40k miles.

To the OP, always get a Carfax and pay the $50-80 to a mechanic who specializes in the make of the car you want to buy to examine it, so a total of $100. I'f I'm looking for a Honda Accord, I simply go to Craigslist, type in "Accord" in the car section, and save that link to my desktop on my phone for future searches. As another poster mentioned, some people list their mileage like "80" to mean 80,000, so if you were looking for a used car in the 50k-100k range and searched accordingly, it wouldn't return. I like a full search with just the model of the car and would rather weed out the ones rather than miss out on what I want.

While it is nice for the sellers to include lots of pictures in their ads, it also means they will get more eyes on it, i.e. more competition. I like it when they post 3-4 photos and then I privately request more. When people say they are "firm" that's terrific, but it doesn't scare me off. In fact, when they say firm, it cuts down on the risk of a scam that I have to weed out and waste 5 minutes of my life because a scammer is trying for a quick buck.

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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by Lieutenant.Columbo » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:51 pm

bumping topic:
GoUBears wrote:
Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:23 am
We need to replace a 15 year old minivan in the next 6 months and plan to once again buy a 2-4 year old car in cash and drive it until it dies. We have in mind 2 different replacement models (Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Rogue with 3rd row) based upon research, rides, etc and don't feel particularly emotionally tied to either, just preferring the best value for the car. Right now there are a couple of used options in a 75 mile radius that are not great value based upon TrueCar and Kbb, so we're comfortable waiting. All 3 are new enough to dealership that they aren't being very flexible on price at this point.
GoUBears, did you end up buying one of the three vehicles you had seen when you posted your OP?
livesoft wrote:
Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:38 pm
I would leave my phone number with those dealers that have the cars you want at too high a price and tell them: "Call me when you are ready to sell at a reasonable price when you need to meet your sales quota."
livesoft, would you expect prices to become reasonable during the second half of the 12th month of the year, namely the present time?
nhdean wrote:
Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:49 am
Buying a used car from a dealer can be tough. Usually when it first shows up on the lot dealers are not too flexible. Unlike new cars you don't get rebates to offset vehicle depreciation. The dealer owns the car for a mount and that does not change regardless of how long it sits there.

Some dealerships will send a vehicle that has not sold after a certain amount of time to make sure they do not lose money on it. I would say watch the vehicles. After a few months you will either see a price drop online or you can negotiate a better deal. Remember doing this you can lose out on good vehicles.
nhdean, any tips on how to find out early on whether a used-car one is interested in has been sitting a short or long time at at non-franchise car dealer lot?
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by livesoft » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:30 am

Lieutenant.Columbo wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:51 pm
livesoft, would you expect prices to become reasonable during the second half of the 12th month of the year, namely the present time?
I have no clue really, but I expect not since there are more buyers at this time of year, aren't there? You know, people get bonuses; people give gifts, people go for the tax breaks, etc.
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GoUBears
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Re: Advice for Used Car Buying

Post by GoUBears » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:34 am

GoUBears, did you end up buying one of the three vehicles you had seen when you posted your OP?
Actually no, we ended up getting a 2014 CR-V. Long process over past 5 months that felt meandering at times. Lots of cars test driven, multiple pros/cons worksheets to determine if we really needed a car that held more than 5 people and which features were needs vs. wants. While I liked the CX-9, I could never find a used one in our price range. The CR-V is much more of a "checks the boxes" car without being exciting or thrilling, but with college for 3 kids in the next decade, in my price range and reliable are probably the most important features at this point.

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