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Have you purchased a car lately?

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Feb 27, 2013 10:00:00 AM

Buying a used carBuying a car can be an exciting but stressful time in your life. I think purchasing a used car can be even more stressful because, unless you purchase one, you don’t get a warranty to cover mechanical failures. I remember buying my first car when I was in college. It cost about $3,000 and the transmission went out which was an expensive repair for a starving college student. Thankfully, my parents were able to help me out!

When it's time to purchase a used car for your child here are some things to consider.  

1. What's your budget?

2. What's the cost of insurance?

3. Buy a car with a lot of miles at a lower price or spend more on a car with fewer miles?

4. Buy from a local dealer or from whomever offers the best deal?

5. Was the car properly maintained?

6. Was the car was in a serious accident?

7. Is the car a salvaged vehicle? 

8. What safety features does the car have?

8. What do experts, as well as consumers, say about the car?

9. Does the make and model have a history of reliability?


Fortunately, there are several online resources that can provide the answers to these questions. 

1. AutotraderAutotrader does a great job of compiling all the cars that are for sale in your area. You can see what’s available without ever leaving your home which can save you time and money. You can get pricing information, pictures, dealer information, vehicle specs, and sometimes even a free Carfax report.

2. Carfax When you buy a used car, you never know exactly what you’re getting. A Carfax report can help put your mind at ease because it provides background for:

  • Title problems – Were there any severe accidents? Is the car a lemon? Was the car in a flood? Are there issues with the odometer?
  • Ownership history – How many people owned this car? What’s the mileage? Was this car used as a rental or fleet car, or was it just used as a personal vehicle?
  • Accident and service – If there was an accident, how much did it cost to repair? Were the airbags ever deployed? Is there frame damage? What do the service records look like?

3. Kelley Blue Book Kelley Blue Book offers suggestions for:

a. What you should pay for a new car;

b. What you should pay for a used car;

c. What your current car is worth; and

d. Car reviews and other research tools.

4. NADA Guides - This great resource provides:
a. Expert reviews;
b. Consumer ratings;
c. Free VIN check;
d. The cost to own a vehicle;
e. Car values; and
f. Vehicle recalls.

5. Safercar.gov  – This website tracks:
a. Consumer complaints;
b. Investigations;
c. Recalls; and
d. Service bulletins.

No matter what make or model you buy, don’t be surprised if you experience some frustration at some point in the process. If you do your research ahead of time, however, you’re more likely to make the best decision for you and your family.

Do you have any suggestions or information you'd like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Auto Safety

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