Friday, January 31, 2020

The Money Smart Way To Get a New Car, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared my friend Michelle's amazing post on how she got her terrific car for cash, for a very low price, and getting something quite amazing. That part included steps one to three, how to find the car in the first place, but once you find the car, it doesn't end there. Here are the next steps.

Fourth: Go and see it. At least twice I drove out (a friend had to give me a ride, or an Uber) to see a car, and the car had a check engine light on, or some other issue with it not disclosed in the phone call. That’s why it is imperative to go out and see the car. Or I would go out and check the heater and air conditioning and it didn’t work. Or to find out what exactly it had in the car (stereo, tape deck etc). Or to see how many scratches and dents it had. Investigate everything: see it from all sides, check the wipers and everything work, see if there are any issues.

Keep asking questions. And take it for a test drive. At least 5 miles. Just drive it, see how it works, functions, any weird noises, smells, etc. Super important as you can probably tell if its an obvious clunker, even if like me, you know not enough about cars. “What is that noise?” “Oh, it’s the belt flapping” “Mhmm” (Makes note to self). “What is that smell?” “Oh, that’s the heat”. “Mhmm” (Makes note to self). “Why is that light on?” “Oh it’s a [extremely fancy car word] issue” “Mhmm and how much is the repair generally on that” “Oh, we don’t know; its sold as is” “Mhmmm” (Makes note to self). You get the picture.

Fifth: Get an inspection. If a car passes your priorities, is in your top price limit, isn’t too good a deal but is a good deal, drives well, and seems decent: get it checked by a mechanic! This is around $60 dollars to do or less, and is worth every penny. They will check the entire car, in and out and tell you all the things that are wrong with it. There will be things wrong with it. The question is what things. All used cars have things wrong (brakes, rust, tire issues, etc). What you are looking for are the major things: engines, gears, oil etc. When you finally have a car you love, you want to spend that $60 (this is why you set aside another $1000 usd) to make sure.

I took in the car I loved (a 2008 Toyota Rav4 with a V6 engine and a sunroof for $5000 (yes, it was a great deal)) and went straight to a mechanic. I didn’t even know the mechanic in advance, but I looked on Google reviews and he had over 150 5 star reviews, each one sounding original and honest, and the only 1 star review was some lady frustrated she didn’t get her expired coupon, and they responded to her and offered her help), but I digress.

The mechanic was great. Told me the car had rust damage (expected), bad tires (expected), bad breaks and break pads (expected), bad rotors (not so expected but not bad) and a gear oil leak. Now that was the major one. There were no other major surprises on the car except that. So, I asked him to write me out a price quote, and I drove straight back to the dealer. Get a nice mechanic. I said to him I was desperate for a car, but needed it to be safe for my kids. He said that he wouldn’t let me get it unless he felt his own daughter could drive it. Score one for awesome people (and yes, he was absolutely kind and amazing).

Sixth: Bargain. Once I knew the issues with the car from the mechanic, I went right back to the dealer (who I found on Facebook Marketplace, by the way) and said, “Hey, the tires are bad, brakes and rotors are bad, but the biggest issue is an oil leak in the gears which could be minor ($300) or major ($4000 or more). I can’t buy it with a $4000 problem, so what can you do about it?”. And the dealer was so shocked he said he would fix it (it was a minor problem in the end) and throw in a free warranty on the car for the first month (yes, even used cars can have a warranty) that would cover it if it was the major issue, and if I kept paying the warranty ($40 a month after that first free month) then it would cover any major damage that could occur to the car as long as I kept paying it myself.

He also gave me a half the price price-quote on replacing the breaks and rotors and said he would fix those for an extra charge himself. You can also bargain by paying in cash, on the spot, for a lower price for example. Or anything else wrong with the car. There is always where to go.

Seventh: Put together a car fund. You will always need to fix things. Tires, small things like wiper pads, or some such thing. Start creating an emergency fund for the car, even if you have insurance, just in case. Better to have it than to have something go wrong with it. I replaced my tires on my car via Costco (they had a $150 per tire plus 1 cent installation and great warranty) which was expensive but worth it for me personally in a high snow area. You set your priorities (mine was tires) and then you can fund it via cash flow.

I absolutely love my car, and it was one of the best, most researched purchases I ever made.

What process do you go through when you buy a car? Is this something you do, or something that you'll try to do in the future, next time you buy a car?

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