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Used car buying checklist



Our Used-Car-Buying-Checklist is not unlike our New Car Buying Checklist

with some subtle differences.

Insider Information! (GASP!)

Before Purchasing Any Vehicle, it is vitally important that you use a Used-Car-Buying-Checklist. The reasoning behind this, is that it will help you to make a logical step by step car purchase, and not allow your emotions and material desires to cloud your judgment.

1. Before you begin to start your search, you must evaluate what your budget will be, a very helpful tool is to use your current Banking Institution or Credit Union. They will run your credit report, and help you facilitate a worthwhile, and affordable Car Loan, with your best interests in mind, SOME CAR DEALERSHIP WILL NOT! accomplishing this first step will not only put you in the drivers seat figuratively (vroom, vroom) but Knowing your budget BEFORE, you begin looking, will help you to be more in control of the car buying process.

Your Banking Institution will also help you with any trade in you might have, especially if there is still an outstanding amount owed on it. There are also differing values for your trade, there is a private party value, trade in value, retail book value, etc. These are very important key points, discussed later below.

Make sure you bring proof to any dealership you plan to do business with, of your pre-approved financing budget, along with your Used-Car-Buying-Checklist, because they will want to run your credit report again, this causes drops, you don’t want that!

Point to Remember: The last thing you want is to be upside down in your financing, see Vehicle-Equity Page.

2. With your budget and Pre-Approval in hand, its time to go shopping! You have a couple of choices here, and you need to contemplate them objectively, and concisely. One idea that I find brilliant (if I do say so myself) is to shop in the comfort of your own home, the pressure is off, and you can get dealers to compete for your business, of course you will need to test drive your vehicle, but if you REALLY have a good idea about the type of car you want to purchase, this is a good option, because you can have individual dealerships compete with regards to price.

Here is where the Used-Car-Buying-Checklist differs:


Have you ever wondered where a dealer gets his used cars? Their not all trade in’s? nor are they simply purchased from people off the street looking to sell. they go to the local Car Auctions!

This my fellow consumers is the:


I feel like an informant! (he he he) so many people have no idea how much profit there is in a used car. Now to be fair, lets not forget, we all work, in our particular field to earn a living, my point, or issue, is when consumers are gouged, and a dealership (again not all) do not take responsibility as human beings, by holding to a moral standard of not facilitating some ones financial situation, by getting them further into debt regardless of the financial benefit to themselves.(oh don’t get me started!)

Due to new Government lending laws and the state of the economy most predatory lending practices have been curtailed substantial, there still exist those lenders who advertise…”We Finance anyone” and these practitioners actually make more on the financing then on the car itself. The need to obtain transportation has over ridden the “Honest” practical aspects of getting a car. There are many ways to circumvent this which I will explain in detail below. In other words, If you are credit impaired the following questions should be asked.

1. Should I really own a car at this time?

2. How much cash can I really raise for a car and pay cash..maybe not the car you want but can afford

3. Private car buying: Is there someone selling a private car and willing to take payments

4. Borrowing a car from a relative or getting a ride (car pooling) You know you don’t have to own a car to belong to a car pool. Helping with the expenses of a vehicle may be the easiest and best way in participating in that ownership by using the car (paying someone else to own and operate a vehicle) Meanwhile, you are saving to buy your own car outright!

This issue of course that I have with the dealerships arises only if you were not pre-approved by your own financial institution. When you fill out a credit sheet, income and expenses are gone over by any potential financial institution to budget out your financing and car payment to evaluate how much of a credit risk you are?

I have seen first hand when someone who (on disability) absolutely could not afford to buy a car, of course her daughter went on the contract (if I remember correctly) was sold one. Again, this is a moral issue, not a legal one, so let’s get back to the checklist.With your notes, and checklist in hand, you want to make sure you know what the true retail value of the car your looking for. The Suggested Retail book on a vehicle differs greatly, depending on who you ask. Let me give you an example on this.

2001 Kia Rio 97,000 miles in Excellent Condition:

Suggested Retail Value? $3390.00

Private Party Value $2340.00

Trade-In Value $1200.00

Now of course, the price differs based on condition, going as low as 800.00 on a trade in price for a fair condition car. Now upon further investigation I searched a number of sites selling a 2001 with the approximate mileage of 97,000? here are three differing prices I got:

Illinois = 6,999.00

Ohio = 5,999.00

Calif = 2,744.00

Here is the secret: Many times, the profit margin is in how much the dealership pays for the used vehicle at the Auction. More often than not, the pay:


There are many factors that a dealership takes into consideration when purchasing from the auction:

1. Whats the market like? (Whats Hot? Whats Not?)

2. What model car are we looking at? a Toyota Celica? or a Chrysler 300?

Here is an example of what I mean:

I looked up a sold 2001 Kia Optima with approx 117,000 that was sold at auction in Ca. The paid price was $700 the same car low private party blue book was $2650.00Every dealership uses their own formula for this buying process. So you see how important it is to do your research! check out numerous websites, and periodicals for the right price and fit for you! Now here is the ultimate caveat to all of this “inside information”

Do not expect to go in to a dealership all gung ho about about what you know, (did I really just rhyme?) this information is to give you a rule of thumb, not a bat, to beat over the head of the next used car salesman you work with. A lot of these Men and Woman are just trying to make a living just like you and me. They actually appreciate someone who has done their homework, and wants to work out a deal.


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