By December 31, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

How to Buy a Used Car

Reader Question

Good morning Austin, I have been a faithful reader of yours for a long time and you have helped me save a ton of money on my car repair bills. Thanks!

I am now at the point where I am wanting to get rid of my current vehicle and buy a newer used car. I found a used Honda at my local Honda dealership and wanted to know what you thought about it and if there are any negotiating tips you can send my way.



Good morning to you too Ellen (although it’s afternoon now for me) :)

Good to hear from you again, and so glad I have been able to assist you for so long, thank you!

So you are moving up to a newer Honda Accord, great news…great car! It’s almost 2013, so that vehicle is 5 years old and most likely will require some regular maintenance to bring it up to snuff.

Some questions to ask when buying a used car

1. Do a used car inspection and give you a written estimate of what work needs to be done NOW, and what maintenance is going to come due in the next 10,000 miles. So you know what to expect this year and what to expect today if you purchase today.

2. Get a Carfax report, or call your current auto insurance agent and give them the VIN number of the vehicle and see if they can tell you if the claim history. Many agents will do this for you, especially if you are going to have them insure it.

3. See if they know if there are any recalls or service bulletins regarding this particular vehicle that have not been taken care of yet. Just to save you some hassle knowing what should have been done is done.

4. Are they selling the vehicle AS IS, or is there some kind of warranty that comes with it. I would not really mess with buying any kind of extended warranty, they just don’t  seem to be worth the expense.

5. Will they let you test drive the vehicle over the weekend before you buy?  Many dealers will allow you to put 50 miles or so on the vehicle for an extended test period for serious buyers. I would definitely do this and put some miles on it and make sure everything works and you are happy.

6. Once you have done those steps, then I would start the price negotiation process. I can’t comment on that specific vehicle, but I highly suggest you spend some time on Craigslist and compare similar vehicles, and go and look and test drive those vehicles so you can compare apples to apples.

TIP: Just from my personal experience. Japaneses vehicles that have a “J” at the beginning of the VIN code (meaning it was made and assembled in Japan) seem to hold up much better maintenance wise and command a higher resell price as well.

My favorite used cars to buy from a dealer are 2 year old lease trade ins. They usually still have the factory warranty in place, and you can get some really good deals. Ask about one, and compare the condition and price to your 2008 you are considering. You can get easier and cheaper financing as well, compared to a more “used car”.

Hope this helps


Austin Davis

Posted in: Used Cars

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."