Buying a new car is the second most expensive purchase most people will make. Every year, manufacturers launch better-looking cars with the latest and greatest gadgets. It’s very tempting to buy a new car, especially in the fall, when dealers lower their prices to make room for next year’s inventory. A new car is good for your soul, but bad in your wallet.
As the prices of new cars continue to rise year after year, while our wages always seem to be stagnating, it is wise for most of us to buy second hand. The good news is that it is a buyer’s market in the used car universe. Retailers are always eager to free up their inventory and buying from a private party will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars compared to buying from a retailer.
What kind of cheap cars can you buy from Farago Motors? There are a lot of cars out there that you can buy for cheap. My favorite car is the Nissan Maxima. A 1998 Maxima fully loaded with Bose leather and stereo can be purchased for three thousand. The good thing about Maxima is that the car uses a distribution chain instead of a distribution belt. This means you never have to replace it. Most cars need a distribution belt replacement every 80K miles or so.
My other favorite car in the 3K series is the 1996 Honda Civic four-door with manual gearbox. It’s a Honda, should I say more? It offers impressive fuel economy and is an explosion to drive. But the problem with the old Honda is that it’s hard to find one that hasn’t been panned by teenagers. Try to find one that is completely stocked.
I recommend eBay when buying used cars, but only if the seller is local to you. I can’t believe a lot of people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a car they haven’t seen in person. Local newspaper ads are also a great way to find cheap cars. I don’t recommend going to auctions. Most cars can’t be controlled by testing at auction, so it’s really the buyer to be careful.
Once you’ve found a car, it’s time to make some history by digging. Get a carfax report and make sure your car has no history of accidents or water damage. This will save you a lot of headaches along the way. No matter how neat and clean a car may seem, you’ll never really know about the history of a car unless you get a carfax report.
If everything becomes clear, contact the seller and arrange for a test drive. Meet early in the morning when the weather is cool. Be sure to tell the owner not to start the car before you arrive. A troubled car will be harder to start when the engine is cold.
But even before you start the car, blow up the cap and check the engine and transmission oil. The engine oil must be transparently brown, while the transmission oil shall be transparent pink. If the engine oil is black, this should be a red flag. The owner neglects to even perform the basics of car maintenance. Chances are there are other things the car needs attention to. If the transmission oil is also black, forget it.
Take the car for a test drive. Feel any tremors or vibrations in the car and hear any unusual sounds coming from the engine or wheel wells. Brakes must not make metal or creaking noises. Check out all indoor and outdoor lights and make sure they all work. When the car is running, check for smoke coming out of the silencer. Black smoke indicates that the car is running rich and may need a tune-up. White smoke is just water condensation, so it’s nothing. Blue smoke is what you have to keep in mind. This means that the engine oil burns along the gas, indicating a leak in the engine seals. This could be very expensive to repair. I don’t recommend buying the car if you see blue smoke because it just isn’t worth the possible headache.
If all goes well, take the car to a trusted mechanic and get a thorough inspection. A full inspection usually costs about $125, but it’s well spent money. A mechanic will be able to put the car in an elevator and inspect the axles, CV joints and exhaust system. If the mechanic finds something that needs to be repaired, you will be able to negotiate even more with the seller.