Buy used car from Internet
Dear Propeller Heads: My friend just bought a car over the Internet, and said he got a great deal. I would like to try it myself. Do you have any advice?
A: In the last column, we discussed ways to use the Internet to make buying a new car cheaper and easier. Now it's time to cover used cars.
If you were paying attention, you will remember the advice we gave in the last column to help you find a new car.
The Internet has empowered the consumer with knowledge, and that knowledge can save you a lot of money on big-ticket items such as new cars.
However, some people pride themselves on buying only used cars. They see new-car buyers as foolhardy wastrels.
The die-hard used-car aficionado considers that new-car smell as the most expensive odor on the planet, because the second a car leaves the dealership, its value drops dramatically.
Much as we hate to admit it, the used-car buyer has a point, even if he is sometimes rather obnoxious about it. So what can the Internet offer someone shopping for used cars?
Plenty. The Internet makes it possible to assemble information and compare sales offerings in a way that was simply not possible in the dark ages before the World Wide Web.
As with new-car shopping, you will first want to select a specific car model, although you may need to be flexible about options.
The best source of used-car data is Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org).
Browse their "Best and Worst Used Cars" or "Reliability by Category" to narrow your choices. The $19 Internet subscription is the kind of bargain a used-car buyer loves.
Edmunds offers used-car advice for free at www.edmunds.com. Their Used Car Appraiser gives you good ballpark figures for trade-in, private-party and dealership prices.
When you know what you want, it's time to shop.
And this is where the Internet can be really helpful. You can compare dozens of used-car offerings without leaving home.
There are several good Internet used-car listings.
Some, such as Auto Trader (www.autotrader.com), have a lot of dealer listings, and others, such as Internet Auto Guide (www.internetautoguide.com), feature a good proportion of private sellers.
CarMax (www.carmax.com) prices can be higher than private listings, but the inventory at the Goochland County-based chain is extensive, and the cars are well inspected.
Before you purchase, you should get a report on the car to make sure it hasn't been involved in any major accidents or submerged by the last hurricane.
CarFax (www.carfax.com) offers unlimited reports for $29.99.
Used-car warranties (from Sites such as www.warrantydirect.com) may be a good idea, too.
And do not get suckered into paying excessive "processing fees" in addition to the advertised price. Make sure you are told about all fees up front.
If the fees seem unreasonable to you, walk away. Chances are the seller will work with you rather than lose a sale.
When you finally find that really sweet deal, be ready to pounce. Someone else might be seeking your dream car.
Then, after closing the deal, be sure to brag to your new-car-buying friend about how much money you saved on that vintage 1978 Gremlin GT.
They love that.inRich.com