The Car Guy: Tips for purchasing a used automobile – News – Sturgis Journal – Sturgis, MI

This is the time of the year many people start looking around for a new car. With new models begin released in a few weeks, prices d come down some.

This is the time of the year many people start looking around for a new car. With new models being released in a few weeks, prices have come down some.
Because of the new-car buying frenzy that’s beginning, keep in mind the used car business also has more opportunities. Until the past year or so, a two-year-old vehicle on the lot would cost within a few thousand of a new car. Call it a remnant of The Great Recession. Since many people held off buying new in that period, used prices rose because of higher demand. Supply-and-demand is annoying when the nation is broke.
This trend of higher-than-normal used-car prices lasted several years longer than it should have, I think due mostly to dealers pushing prices up as long as they could onto used inventory. But within the past year, the many lease turn-ins and buyer incentives on new units has lowered used prices to more normal levels.
Therefore, many dealers aren’t giving as much for used car trade-ins. The point of all this: Many people have gotten out of the practice of buying used. Also,  a lot of friends and customers ask me if I know about  any good used cars for their children to drive to school or work.
First, there aren’t many solid used cars for under $5,000 anymore. They exist, but are difficult to find. My best advice is, start the process early, even a full six months before you truly need the car. Ask trusted family members and close friends or people from church who they know who might be selling a good car. Often, these are the only place buying a car for a kid makes sense. These people generally are interested in selling your child a safe, reliable car. After all, they’ll have to hear about any junk they’ve dumped on you if things go awry. Guilt is a powerful thing.
If you do find a solid used car that tickles your fancy, make certain to have it inspected before you purchase. I can’t count the times customers have brought a rolling death-trap in for me to inspect —after they have bought it. Not wise, nor fiscally responsible. Avoid trouble, take it to an ASE certified mechanic you use and trust. Then, it’s much simpler to make informed purchases.  
  Before you waste time on an inspection do one yourself. Look for obvious accident damage and underbody rust holes. Yes, get on the ground and look underneath. Check all levels for low or burned fluids and massive leaks under the drivetrain area. Check controls and operation of lights, heater, wipers, etc. Ask what repairs they have made and how often the oil was changed. After they pass your basic checks and a test drive, take it to your technician.
These simple acts can save you big bucks or, if ignored, can cost them.

Craig Crabill is an ASE master certified auto and heavy truck technician. He has owned a repair business for more than 30 years.



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