Easy Steps: How to Find Good Used Cars and Avoid The Lemon

I work in the auto industry and a question i am asked over and over by friends and family is:

“Whats the best way to go about finding good used cars?”

Many of us chose to buy used cars. It can make a lot of sense. As you know new cars can lose up to 30% of their value in the first 2 years. If you end up needing to sell that new car too soon you will have wasted all that money.

The only problem is that buying used cars can be a mine field of errors. You need to know your stuff. You also need sharp wits and to understand the pitfalls. The truth is that we are not all mechanics and we don’t all have the eye for knowing the bad from the good used car.

Today I will share some steps and tricks that will improve the chances of you making a sound choice. There is a lot to know about used cars, but with the following ideas, you will be well on your way.

Why Buy Good Used Cars?

Take advantage of the depreciation. When you buy a used car, that is a few years old, you have saved yourself the 20%-30% value loss on that car. Someone else has paid that for you. You have reduced the risk of burring yourself in that car financially. If for some reason you need to sell the car again sooner then planned, you will be in a far better position.

Take your pick! When you buy used, there are many different things that can effect price. You will have way more options in terms of model, brand, age, mileage. You have the option of buying a car that you normally could not afford if it was brand new off the car lot. You can really set any budget and shop with in that budget. You could literally spend $2,000 or $200,000 on a used car. Every city is ripe with a vast selection of used cars in good condition.

Something new in the used car department each day. The used car market is always changing. It means that there are always different cars to find and choose from. Most Victoria dealers will have fresh inventory each month. Often you can find the new inventory right at home with your computer. There are also tonnes of private sales listed each day.

Should You Buy Used Cars Privately Or From A Dealer?

There are advantages in choosing to work with a dealer, as well as a private owner.

Private sale used car advantages:

You can sometimes find great deals in the private sale listing. With some patience and time, online you can find the good deals. Many sellers online are doing it because they are under the gun and need the cash fast.

Often, private owners are not as aggressive when it comes to talking about numbers and the process. Private owners will allow you to take things at your own pace. Most car salesmen will try and move you to make a choice as soon as they can. This unneeded pressure can be avoided by finding a reliable salesmen or staying in the private market.

Dealer Advantages:

You can save a ton of time if you go to a Used Car Dealer. They will have way more selection in one place. As much as we don’t like the sales process, one thing it does is save time. The key is finding a reliable sales person. One who actually cares about you. Talking to someone about what kind of car you need, then driving, and then talking about numbers all in one day means you can rule a car in or out with in a few hours.

Used car dealer in many areas must declare auto Dec’s. They will have documents such as a Car Proof or Car Fax and safety inspections on hand. These are valuable documents that many private sellers overlook. They are hard proof of a vehicles history.

Private Used Car Disadvantage

Most people sell a car in private so they can get as much for it as possible. If they didn’t care about getting the most they could then they would have sold it to a dealer. Most people will shop privately because they feel they can get a better deal then if they went to a dealer. In most cases, private car shoppers and private car sellers, are further apart on price then car dealers and car shoppers. Often private sellers are far more emotionally attached to their car then dealer is and have a inflated idea of its value.

Dealer Disadvantage

Very often dealers will have extra costs attached to the sale of a used car. They will also want you to purchase extra warranties and products. Many of these products may not suit your life or needs. Be mindful of what you are signing for. Don’t be afraid to ask early what the extra fees will be and what they are for. Many of the products are of use in curtain situations. Once you have listened to and understood what the extras are, make a rational choice as to whether you need them or not.

How to pick the right car.

Car Proof or Car Fax! Do not buy a used ca, private or at a dealer, unless you have read the Car Proof/Car Fax. The Car Proof, is a history report that will tell you if the car has been repaired due to collisions. It will also let you know if it was an x-rental, x-lease or has been registered out of the province. It will also give an overview of some of the major maintenance work and were it was done. This document is a must for buying used vehicles. Most dealers will have one available.

If you are shopping privately and the owner does not have one. Tell the owner that you won’t buy unless a car proof is provided.

Look under the car. Get down and a little dirty. Check under the vehicle for rust. Rust is a killer. Look at the shocks, and in the engine compartment as well.

Open up the hood. Most used car dealers will have cleaned the engine very well. There are still signs you can find. Look for leeks, rust, and wear and tear. Start the car with the hood open. When the engine is cold it will reveal the most. Get out again and look at the engine while it is running. Listen for squeaks, whines, ticking and other odd sounds.

Inspect the inside well. Use your nose. Sniff and sniff some more. Often strong perfumes, and fresheners will be used if the car had mold, dogs, and smokers.

Lift the floor mats and check for moisture. Also check the spare tire compartment. Again, look for rust and moisture in these spots.

Take it for a drive. Before you get going to fast, put the car in neutral and give it some gas. Keep an eye on the mirrors and what comes out the back. You don’t want to see big plumes of smoke.

The drive should cover different roads. Highways, back roads, some bumps as well. When its safe, let go of the wheel on a straight road. See if the steering is aligned. Over bumps, listen for squeaking and other noises.

When you get back, park over a clean section of the lot/driveway. Then turn the car off. This is when you will look over some of the paper work. After about 15 minutes go back to the car and look under the engine. See if there are any wet marks on the driveway or lot. After the car has been running any leaks will start to drip. If they do. Don’t buy the car.
At this point you should know if the car is in the running or not. Most reputable Car Dealers will have done an inspection of the car. You should have access to the report. Look over it and see if everything checks out. If its a private sale and you like the car, now would be a good time to schedule a third party inspection.

One final note, TRUST YOUR GUT!. If you have done the steps listed you should have a solid idea weather the car you are looking at is in good running shape.

Don’t be afraid to drag a friend along. Someone you know will be very objective about the whole thing. They can give some feed back and their opinion. Let them know that all you want is their impression of the car, not whether you should buy it or not.

There are tonnes of other steps, tricks and tips that I did not cover. If you have any ideas to add, please do in the comment section. Any thing you could add so save someone from buying the dreaded lemon will help.

I hope this instill your confidence to get out there and start looking for tha

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How to Buy Used Cars? A Definitive Guide to Buy an Excellent Used Car Without Overpaying

Before we answer this commonly asked question, just think about what is better for you. It is obvious that you have 2 options; a brand-new car or a used car. As a well known fact, buying a brand-new car can make you lose some money because the price of the brand-new car will be depreciated as soon as you buy that new car, but buying a used car can make you avoid that depreciation.

With a large selection of used cars nowadays, there is no greater value than buying a used car. However, it is also the highest risk, especially if you have no idea about what you should do to get the best deal without getting scammed by the unscrupulous people who are ready to cheat you. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you arm yourself with all the needed research and collecting the most possible information about the specific used car you wish to buy.

Buying a used vehicle is a big challenge, especially if you have no idea about the car you are going to buy, so it’s highly recommended that you take your time to collect the needed information and research via the internet to arm yourself before going into the battle of buying used cars. To avoid the pitfalls of buying used cars, do your research online and through multiple dealerships and used car lots.

According to my research there are easy, but powerful steps that will enable you to buy the used car you need. Read them carefully and imagine yourself doing them while reading to memorize them quickly and to be able to implement them effectively in the real life to get the best deal like never before.

Consider the benefits of buying a used car

According to the experts at Kelly Blue Book, “In three years a brand-new car could depreciate by as much as 73 percent of its value. At the best it will retain only 62 percent of its value after three years. That’s one major advantage to buying a used car.”. Therefore, why do you throw money away with buying a brand-new car while you can get a high-quality and recent model used car.

Here are some other good reasons that encourage you to do that:

Skillful used car buyer can explore bigger deals.

Certified used cars are widely being sold nowadays, such as certified pre-owned cars which you can purchase with peace of mind because they have been thoroughly inspected and are covered by warranties.

Used cars are now more reliable than ever before.

Used cars from 1 to 3 years old are generally still covered by factory warranty.

You can find the history of the used car by using the car VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and by using the vehicle history report. And you can get that report easily from CARFAX or Autocheck.

Online, you can check the safety ratings and crash tests for almost any used car.
Set a budget for your purchase

Next, you will need to consider how to finance the car before you go for shopping. Use online tools to help you with that and make a financial plan that suits your budget. Experts at edmunds.com say “Make sure that your monthly payment does not exceed 20 percent of your salary”. It is essential to see how much your specific car really costs. Tools like True Market Value (TMV), True Cost to Own (TCO) on edmunds.com and website like kbb.com will help you with that.

By using affordability calculator and other online calculators, you can determine how much you can pay as a monthly payment. Determine how much you can pay as a down payment for the car if you are going to take out a car loan. It is important to realize that you will not pay only the car price, but you should also consider the other costs of vehicle ownership, such as insurance rates, extended warranties, maintenance, and fuel costs.

There are two ways to buy a used car; either you pay cash or you take out a loan. Taking a loan to buy a car is also called financing the car. You can finance for your used car through a bank, online lender, credit union, or a dealer. It is highly recommended that you finance through the first three, especially bank and online lender.

Choose the right used car

Used car buying has become very popular nowadays, so you will find a large selection of car models to choose from. Search on T.V, magazines, internet or at used car dealerships. Consult friends or relatives. Nowadays the Internet has become the most valuable tool. You can research the large selection of different car models and prices.

Make a list of several used car models that you are interested in and then narrow your list down to 3 or 4 cars. Before you take your list of preferred cars and go to the dealership or private party to purchase, research the car and collect as much information about the car as you can to arm yourself with all the needed knowledge that will save you money and make you get the great deal without getting scammed.

Before you decide on the car model, you should decide whether you will pay the price of the car in cash or you will finance on the car and pay monthly payments. Ask yourself does that car suit your needs? How big you want the car? Does it have headroom and legroom for you and the other passengers? How many passengers will ride in it? Do you need cargo room or towing capacity?

Once you have decided the right model or body style that is excellent for you, you should start collecting detailed information about that specific used car using its VIN. The VIN is included in many online car listings. Websites such as CARFAX OR Autocheck can help you do so easily. Use this VIN to get the vehicle history report which is vital to know the overall condition and history of the car. You will know whether that specific car has ever been totaled, flooded, stolen or whether the odometer has been rolled back.Those are essential information when you consider buying used cars.

If you want to save money, read the consumer reports and car reviews of the model that you are interested in. Compare Kelly Blue Book values, research resale values. By doing your research up front, you can avoid any model if it has a potential issue.

Best places to find used cars

There are a lot of places where you can find used cars, such as online websites, CarMax, dealerships, Auctions, and private party. Each place has its own pros and cons.The certified pre-owned cars are the most expensive used cars. If you want to know more about them you can check out the certified pre-owned vehicle programs at edmunds.com. Make sure that you do not buy a lemon used car.

Test drive and inspect the used car

Test driving and inspecting the used car that you have decided to buy is a very important factor in determining whether or not you proceed with your purchase, you may keep this vehicle for years to come, so make sure that the car is reliable and high performance. Try it in different roads to explore any potential problems you may find later, after you will have bought it.

After you collected the necessary information about the car, contact the seller and arrange an appointment to test drive the used car.When you go to test drive the car, bring along a mechanic because it is highly recommended that you take a mechanic with you to inspect the used car.

When you test drive the car, make sure that the engine is cold because doing that will show you whether there are any chronic issues or not. Bear in mind that it is your chance to test the car, so take your time to judge whether it is a good fit and it is in a good condition or not. Consider the following:

How does it feel when you drive the car?

How does it feel on bumpy roads?

Does the car have the acceleration levels you want?

What about the suspension, is it comfortable and even?

Does the car pull to one side or another or not? If it pulls, so it may be a problem with alignment or brake. Consider trying the brake.

Does the car inside have enough headroom and legroom for everyone who will ride?

While you are driving turn off the radio or C.D player to focus on the driving experience and to be able to hear any unusual noise especially from the engine.
Make sure that you get the service records from the seller or dealer. Stay away from the used cars that have been in a serious accident or that have been undergoing major repair work such as engine overhauls, valve jobs or transmission rebuilds. You should also check the VIN of the car, it is located in many places on the car depending on the car model. Make sure that all of the VIN plates on the car are matched not mismatched. Take a trusted mechanic with you to check things more accurately and professionally for you. If it is a CPO (certified pre-owned car) there is no reason to take a mechanic with you because those kinds of cars have undergone a thorough inspection before they have been brought for sale.

Negotiate the price

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Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica 2015

Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica

Rate Comparisons for 2015

Car rental in Costa Rica is an opportunity to explore the remote beaches and quiet corners of this breathtakingly beautiful country. Travel without the restrictions set by public transport timetables and with freedom over group tours. For the unprepared traveler; however, car rental costs and services can be a rude shock and a blow to that vacation budget.

Renting a vehicle for your vacation will probably be the most expensive part of your budget, so understanding the terms and managing expectations is very important. The information below is not meant to be an exhaustive manual, but it should set you on the path towards an informed decision for your car rental needs in Costa Rica.

Why is car rental so expensive?

Visitors from outside of Costa Rica are often surprised by the cost of car rental. While hotel rooms, restaurant bills and tours are lower than the prices paid at home, it may appear strange that car rental should be more costly.

There are two simple reasons for this high cost:

All vehicles in Costa Rica are imported and a tax is imposed. Due to this heavy taxation, the cost of purchasing a vehicle is higher than it would be in other industrialized countries. There are some car rental operators who rent older vehicles in order to reduce their costs.

The cost of mandatory insurance (see below).
Factors that Affect Car Rental Costs

• Mandatory Insurance

Third-party insurance, which may be known as TPI, PDW (Partial Damage Waiver), SLI (Supplementary Liability Insurance) and other acronyms, is a legal requirement. Car rental operators must charge the customer for this coverage which may or may not be clear in the quotation received by the customer.

The insurance itself is not the issue. After all, many other countries require car renters to pay a mandatory insurance; including: New Zealand, Italy and Mexico, as well as a number of the U.S. states, like California. The issue that causes contention in Costa Rica is that this cost is not always displayed clearly on the car rental operator’s website or in a quote. Customers then discover the additional cost of their rental upon arrival.

The cost of mandatory insurance varies from company to company and will depend on the car category that is being rented as well. The cost for a small sedan may be as little as $12 per day, whereas a premium 4×4 vehicle could be as much as $25 for insurance per day. This is in addition to the rental cost.

Credit cards in North America usually offer car insurance as an additional perk to the credit card holder and so North Americans in particular, are unused to having to pay for insurance on top of rental costs. However, no credit card will cover this insurance requirement.

Do ask if the given quote includes third-party insurance and check the prices on the car rental operator’s website.

• Collision Damage Waiver

This is not insurance, but a waiver. The basic level will come with a deductible that varies, but could be as much as $1,500. For a higher daily rate, a zero deductible CDW may be purchased to relieve the renter of any financial responsibility in case of damage to, or theft thereof, the vehicle.

Many renters will obtain their CDW through their credit card. However, it is worth noting that the responsibility for making any insurance claim is on the customer and not with the car rental operator. Some renters may choose to purchase additional in-house coverage to avoid having this responsibility.

There will be car rental agencies which hard sell their own coverage plans through guaranteeing peace of mind, but ultimately, this is the renter’s decision. It is worth remembering that car rental company employees, like in other parts of the world, will sometimes earn commission for insurance sales.

If the customer’s credit card does not provide CDW, the customer will be required to purchase this in-house coverage.

Car rental operators require written proof that the customer’s credit card provides CDW. Ask the car rental operator for the exact details of what they require and in what form. Some may accept a forwarded email from the credit card company, but others may ask for a printed copy to be presented at the time of rental.

• Deposit

The deposit amount required will depend on whether the customer chooses to use the car rental operator’s in-house CDW or takes this coverage through a credit card. Expect to pay a much higher deposit if the in-house CDW is declined. The deposit may also depend on car model rented. This amount, which will be held on the renter’s credit card until the end of the rental period, can be from $750 up to as much as $3,500. The deposit should take no more than five days to be refunded to the credit card on the vehicle’s return. Some car rental agencies will accept debit cards for deposit hold, but the return time for this amount can take weeks.

Do ensure that the deposit is calculated in the vacation budget as an unexpected hold of a few thousand dollars on a credit card could otherwise severely cut into vacation spending.

• Airport Taxes

Customers that rent from a car rental operator’s counter within an airport building are obliged to pay the airport tax.

Those car rental operators with a counter at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) are: Alamo/National, Budget, Dollar, Economy and Hertz. These companies will add an additional 12% tax to the rental cost.

Those car rental operators with a counter at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) are: Avis, Budget and Economy. These companies will add an additional 3% tax to the rental cost.

To avoid this tax, take an airport shuttle with the car rental operator to an office located outside of the airport grounds.

• Surcharges and Other Taxes

There are a number of other obligatory fees that car rental operators may add into the rental cost, display on-screen or show in the quote, or leave undisclosed until the customer’s arrival. These potentially hidden costs may seem small when viewed individually, but these are typically daily rates, so they will add up fast!

These may include:

• License Plate Fee: Less than $2 daily, but differs from company to company.

• Environmental Tax: Less than $1 daily.

• Sales Tax: All sales transactions in Costa Rica are subjected to a 12% government-imposed sales tax.

• Car Washing Fee: Bring back an exceptionally dirty car and the cleaning fee may be added onto the final payment. One car rental operator charges $20 for this additional service.

• Fuel Charges: If the fuel tank is not filled to the same level as it was at the start of the rental period, then the car rental company will charge (usually to the nearest eighth of a tank). This charge is dictated by the car rental operator and it is not subject to the governmentally set fuel price that would be found at any gas station.

Where Should I Reserve the Vehicle?

A common confusion for travelers booking a rental car is the discrepancy between international websites for car rental operators and the Costa Rican website for the same brand. Frequently the international websites are unaware of, or fail to disclose, insurances, taxes and surcharges that will be charged at the counter. This may be due to the fact that many recognized car rental operator brands in Costa Rica are not a foreign branch of the branded car rental operator, but instead are a franchise operation. This factor is also worth considering in terms of expectations concerning customer service and other finer details. The Costa Rican franchise office may have their own style of operating, apart from the same policies and guidelines that the customer may have experienced in other parts of the world.

Understandably then, an online reservation is best made through the local website and not the international site, wherever possible. A number of companies do not have a local website. In this case, do check the details with a local staff member via the telephone and ask for written confirmation of the quote. Experience with live chat on the international websites suggests that whereas staff is trained on terms and conditions governing the main office (usually U.S.A.); they understand little of the policies that must be adhered to in Costa Rica.

Car Rental Comparisons

In May/June of 2013, I compared the pricing and services of a number of car rental operators in Costa Rica and published the findings. To my surprise, the article is still being plagiarized regularly across the Internet which suggests that it is still useful and so an update was required. The prices for this comparison were obtained in December 2014 and January 2015.

The ICT (Costa Rican Institute of Tourism) states that there are thirty registered car rental operators with eight others pending approval. However, there are many more agencies that rent cars to visitors. The car rental operators selected are those which are most frequently used by travelers:

Adobe

Alamo

Avis

Budget

Dollar

Economy

Fox

Hertz

National

Payless

Service

Thrifty

Toyota

USave

Vamos

Wild Rider

Exclusion of Companies from Final Comparison

Budget, Economy, Payless, and Toyota were contacted, but these four companies did not provide accurate online rates. Economy and Budget’s websites have one price, regardless of the dates entered and customers need to reserve a vehicle in order for them to honor the price shown. Toyota’s website was unfortunately only working up until March. Beyond that, the pricing displayed $0 for the remainder of the year. Payless has this disclaimer on their website: “Taxes and surcharges are not within our control and may change without notice.”

Sending individual inquiries for each time period resulted in inconsistent results: Budget offered the same price for all three investigated time periods when receiving an email request, which is highly unlikely; Economy responded with different quotes for the same dates from different members of staff; and Toyota’s emailed quotes for time periods past March’s prices indicated online did not correspond to the March rates quoted (perhaps the emailed quotes contained taxes that were not shown online). Payless can provide quotes via email and telephone, but were not consistent with pricing for different seasons.

Avis is only excluded from the price comparison, as they do not have an intermediate SUV category in their fleet.

Comparison Information

Car rental rate, all taxes and surcharges, and third-party insurance costs are (supposedly) calculated and ranked accordingly below based on the week’s rental of a BeGo or similar intermediate 4×4 from a San Jose/Alajuela location (not from the airport).

Rates are calculated on a weekly basis and divided by seven to provide a daily cost which is more easily comparable. As not all pricing is completely transparent, the prices are as accurate as possible based on the information provided from the car rental operators’ websites, phone calls, and/or emails. Airport taxes are not included in these figures.

Shoulder Season (Quote for July 13 through 20)

1. USave $43.37

2. Service $54.92

3. Fox $55.64

4. Hertz $58.17

5. Adobe $60.13

6. Alamo $60.99

7. Wild Rider $62.86

8. Dollar $63.35

9. Vamos $64.15

10. National $67.04

11. Thrifty $74.39

Low Season (Quote for May 13 through 20)

1. National $37.04

2. USave $43.37

3. Dollar $46.49

4. Adobe $52.57

5. Vamos $53.15

6. Service $53.49

7. Hertz $54.59

8. Fox $55.64

9. Wild Rider $55.71

10. Alamo $60.99

11. Thrifty $74.39

High Season (Quote for March 13 through 20)

1. Dollar $55.92

2. USave $56.22

3. Hertz $56.37

4. Fox $59.36

5. Thrifty $64.69

6. Service $66.63

7. Vamos $67.14

8. Alamo $69.56

9. Wild Rider $70.00

10. Adobe $70.63

11. National $73.90

Summary of Comparison

Interestingly, there is not one clear expensive or cheap company from those compared. The variation in ranking between seasons is marked and customers should consider their vacation dates when choosing the car rental operator. For example, Thrifty appears as the most costly for both low and shoulder season, but are only in fourth position in the rankings for High Season.

It is also significant that pricing is not consistent with ranking with car rental operators in other car categories. For example, Vamos’ pricing is the cheapest for a premium vehicle in the shoulder season; although they are not first in any rankings for the intermediate category and Adobe which appears competitive are the most expensive for this time period and car category.

Information on Car Rental Operators

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