When the idea of buying a car comes up your mind, in 2020 the first thing you do is to go watch these numerous youtube videos on “how do you get the best price, oversmart car dealers, avoid pitfalls like unwanted services and hidden defects”……and on and on of that stuff.
Folks, I’ll tell you what. In my entire life I had never bought a new car, only the used ones. And all my friends and family kept telling me “Jee, I wouldn’t believe this car is used. It looks and feels as new! You’re the damn sorcerer and magician of buying cars ain’t you? Well, when I was young I used to attend car auctions the way some people go to Church on Sundays.
Until some really serious adult things had arise in my life – like growing and taking care of my own business, getting married, having kids, buying a house and that whole kitten caboodle. And what happened is that I stopped practicing that car auction religion. About the same time I drove by the RollsAutoSales on Frankford Ave and recalled I saw their website and it wasn’t bad. So, I decided to walk in and see what they have in store.
‘Cause when you’re living in the Philly area, I guess the best way to switch from online browsing to physical inspection of the very car you need – in the used car world – is that ol’ good website and then the car dealership on Frankford. Yeah, you may find all kinds of miraculously low prices for that one of your “dream cars”. But pay attention to where it is physically located. If you have to drive to Indiana or fly to Dallas just to get physical on that online baby (and it may have mildew on interior and leaks on engine) considering there is no trusted mechanic in the area, the experience of buying a used car online might turn sour. Financially, by mood and negative experience you get.
So, let’s chat a little about the cool way of shopping for used cars in Philadelphia.
- There is no way in hell I will look further than about 100 miles from the place I live. And the place my mechanic lives.
- Next thing to pay attention to when picking the car at a used car dealership is the lot time. The way I do it I open the price quotation for the car I like and then find similar (year, make, mileage) cars on CarGurus. I take the lot times for several cars from CarGurus compared with its prices and then call RollsAuto manager and ask about the lot time for the car I like. Keeping all other things equal the Rolls Auto inventory turnover is pretty good. So the price they will give you most of the time will be relatively competitive depending on how long they have the car on sale. Keep in mind that the first couple of weeks all car dealers want to take the cream of the crops moneywise so that car may be marked up $2500-4000 higher than an average price. After 90 days of the lot exposure things are starting to get better for you as the dealer wants to keep just a wholesale margin on it. From 90 to 180 days the price is going way south from averages. Yeah, it’s cheap but there’s a question why nobody wants to buy the damn thing. Also keep in mind that every extra day on the dealer’s lot is extra money out the dealer’s pocket. So it depends.
- Another thing to look at more closely is comparables. Make a detailed list of consumer and technical parameters for the cars you liked upon the results of browsing online offers . Shop around for comparable cars in the 100 mile area and add them to your checklist. Answer yourself why the prices may differ? Compare mileage, engine type and horsepower, transmission, suspension, wheels and tyres, steering booster, electric and electronic equipment, style, condition and design of the car interior. And then go to Kelley Blue Book and see what’s the fair price for the vehicle. After a couple of exercises like that you should come up with unbeatable points for a car salesman on why that one car must be cheaper. So that way you may strike a $1000-2000 off when negotiating a deal.
- Timing is everything, gentlemen. When it comes out to shop for a car, keep in mind that it’s a highly seasonal business. Prices, supply and demand vary from month to month and from week to week inside the month. Slowest days are usually Mondays and Tuesdays. Slowest months are January and February. Hustle time is the end of month when sales people are trying hardest to make their percentage of sales and bonus incentive money. So, I guess next time I go and buy a car is on Monday, January 25th of 2021 or something like that.
- When you already have a list of 2-3 options for cars you’re ready to go by at a local used car dealership, it’s time to arrive on the spot in all your glory’s shining armor and proceed with a physical examination of the vehicles. Start with the exterior. Check for scratches, chips, dents, and paint uniformity. Ask your mechanic to borrow you that electronic device which scans the car body for fresh paint, putty dents, traces of undeclared accidents. Then check the interiors. Sniff for mildew to make sure the car wasn’t sunk or improperly stored. Check the engine compartment for leaks, cracks, smells of oil and gasoline before and after test drive.
- Bring the car to the mechanic you trust for check-ups.
- Based on your lot time analysis, comparables and car check results carefully put together your price proposal. Every point on the desired price reduction must be implacably justified.
- If you need a loan, secure it beforehand.
- Make the salesman do the deal calculation. Stand your ground. Bring to the table your homegrown justifiable alternatives. Don’t let them know you actually like the car! Instead come up with a couple of points on why you hate it. Remember they won’t sell you anything for the price they’re not comfortable with. So be it. Be prepared to walk away. Take a 1-2 days pause, ease them a little and then squeeze again.
- Some used car warranties may be useless or excessively priced. Check with your mechanic.
As you may see, things are quite simple with buying used cars if you pay attention to certain points. I bet these 10 steps will help you feel more confident and make a good deal. My daddy (owned the sleeky ‘57 Chevy truck collectible that people stare and envied) always told me that in buying cars like in every trade about a half of success is luck but another part is hard work. So good luck doing your homework and bringing home that dream car of your choice!