5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo Spider

Car buying is on a new upswing.  Reuters recently reported that overall car buying (new and used) has risen drastically in the past 4 years.  Car sales rose 13 percent to 1,188,865 cars and light trucks sold during the month of September at U.S. auto dealerships.  That was the best month since March 2008, just after the start of the recession and this shows promise for the auto industry.

The upswing is mainly due to rising consumer confidence, making people feel safer to open their wallets on car purchases.  However, many Americans are still feeling the tight with their money in this economy as it is still moving at a snail's pace.  That's why more people are considering used cars over new cars these days.  If you are one of these people here are “5 Tips for Buying a Used Car.”

Preparation is Key

Preparation is crucial in a used car buying search. Spending time researching different models and trims can help you get a better price and know what car fits your needs. The internet offers a wealth of information about used cars – learn about the different models, options, reliability, prices, etc.  The more you know the better, the better prepared you are to find the car you want and get a good deal.

Check Your Credit

If you're a used car buyer with potential credit issues who might find it difficult in getting approved for a loan, again turn to the internet to better educate yourself. Better yet, you should probably know your credit rating in advance, so the entire discussion about financing and credit isn't a surprise to you.

I recommend you look for a reputable credit union that will offer great financing for pre-owned and used vehicles at reasonable rates.  Credit unions offer much better financing than what you will find at a bank all with personalized service.  Credit unions actually offer the same loan rates on new cars as used cars, making them straightforward and easy to understand.  They can also help you improve your credit and some even offer classes on financial literary.

Do the Numbers

When seeking a used car, know what your budget is and where it will be a year from now. Don’t shop for a cool luxury convertible car if you’re living on a shoestring budget, try to find a reasonable and sensible small car that will be easy and not expensive to maintain and insure.

Most used car buyers try to manage a down payment of about 20 percent, while financing the rest. But don't let that get away from you either.  I don't recommending financing a car for more than four years (48 months), and it is a good idea to keep your monthly payment lower than 10 percent of your total income.

You can find great tools online to figure out what a reasonable monthly car payment is for you.  It's best to pay for the car as much upfront as you can but most will need to borrow a little money.

Get the Car Checked

You NEED to get any used car you are considering buying checked and inspected by a reputable independent mechanic BEFORE you buy it.  Unless you are a gearhead, like me, and know what to look for in used cars it's not a good idea to just take a dealership or individuals word on the history of a car.

Did you know that there is no law requiring body shops to report work they have done on vehicles they work on?  A friend's dad is master painter and bodyman and he can make any vehicle that has been in a serious accident look new again.  Meaning Carfax reports can be completely clean, but not tell the whole story about the car.

Eyes that know what to look for will be able to see if a car has been in an accident or if it needs any mechanical fixed to be road-worthy.  Having a used car checked out before you buy it is very important.

Watch for Trade Ins

Most used car dealers will ask if you're trading in a car for the new/used car you've got your eye on.  You want to be careful about talking with the dealership about this.  Trade-in talk shouldn't enter into the negotiation process in my opinion.  Smart used car buyers consider trade-in cars as a separate transaction, and as such don't mention a trade-in factor into the conversation until the end.  Also you will likely get more for your used car if you sold it online via Craigslist or other local ad listing service or website.  Did you know that dealerships typically make a killing on used car trade-ins and not much on selling new cars?  One of dealerships dirty little secrets!  To be sure you are getting a good deal utilize sites like ClearBook.com which assess the value of your used car for the approximate trade-in value.  You will find you typically won't get a good deal.

So don't fret if you are a first-time used car buyer or don't have the best credit rating in the world.  There are plenty of great tools to help you and you should always be looking for opportunities to buy if you are in the market for a new car.  Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they know of any good used cars for sale.  If you have any questions about buying a used car please leave a comment below.

 

Hunt Valley Cars and Coffee

Hunt Valley Cars and Coffee is having it's 6-month anniversary tomorrow morning.  My friend Gypsy Jack has told me it's turned into quite a big and fun “gearhead” meetup for people from around Maryland and Pennsylvania.  People will even drive up from Virginia for Hunt Valley Cars and Coffee to my understanding.

The Hunt Valley Cars and Coffee not only attracts a wide range of people, but cars and vehicles are diverse too.  Classics, tuners, exotics, sportbikes, cruisers, lowriders, hot rods, etc.  You name it, someone is going to come by with it, probably has, or eventually will.  Check out some pictures from Hunt Valley Cars and Coffee.

Where: Hunt Valley Towne Centre, 118 Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley MD, 21030

When: Saturdays, 7:30 am – 10:30 am

Why: Because you like talking with other gearheads!

People usually gather in front of the closed Best Buy, since that is where the most parking is.  Most people go over to Caribou Coffee to get coffee.  Some people stay until 10:30 but I believe most are out of there by 9:30.

FYI after or before) Cars and Coffee I would recommend going to the Pennsylvania Dutch Market on York Rd.  All you do is take a right on York Rd and go for about half a mile and then turn left onto Ashland Rd.  The baked goods, donuts, and food there is AMAZING and it's run by Amish.  Also the coffee here will be better in my opinion.  It's a great thing to do if you have out-of-town guests or want to treat yourself.  The Amish have me hooked on their apple fritters and cookies!

2013 Acura ILX, the Best of Both Worlds

The last thing someone wants to do is shell out $20,000 for a new car and then have their family's physical well-being be in jeopardy. With every unveiling of a new or updated model, the safety of the vehicle is always a consideration for a buyer and the 2013 Acura ILX is no exception.

The ILX contains many parts derived from the Honda Civic sedan model. Considering the Civic's reputation as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that's a good sign.

Honda's ownership of the Acura brand has resulted in a fairly simple transition from the manufacturing of Honda parts to Acura parts. In addition to its shared safety and performance features, the ILX is offered at a substantially lower price than any comparable Acura model in the past. With that said, while the ILX shines in certain aspects, it lacks in others.

What The Acura ILX Has to Offer

  • The ILX features a variety of Acura parts in each of three models. The first features a 2.4-liter, 201-hp engine remarkably similar to that of the Honda Civic Si. The smaller model ILX has a 2.0-liter, 150-hp engine with a five-speed automatic transmission and custom paddle shifters. Both models get anywhere from 20 to 35 MPG, depending on driving conditions.
  • The third model is perhaps the most attractive to the modern car shopper because it is a hybrid. As you may have guessed, the Acura ILX Hybrid is derived from the 2012 Civic Hybrid. No surprise there, but it still has a decent 110-hp, 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and Honda's CVT transmission.
  • Due to the ILX’s front wheel drive, it holds nearly two-thirds of its weight in the front end of the car. To compensate, it features increased grip on the nose, allowing the ILX to corner steadier and with increased traction.
  • Again borrowing from the Civic, but differing slightly, the ILX's frame includes a prominent overhang meant to draw out the car's hood. On the back end, the ILX has a sedan-like trunk featuring a slight deck lid. Overall, the car’s design appears far more similar to that of a Honda than an Acura.

What’s Inside?

The ILX's interior is reminiscent of other Acura models both past and present. The shifter and center console, along with many other interior aspects, bears a striking resemblance to the Acura TSX. From the driver and passenger seat frames to the upper and lower dashboard, the ILX borrows a lot from its Acura siblings.

In addition, the ILX has a premium package available that includes the latest automobile technology with voice navigation, Bluetooth hands-free technology, weather/traffic updates, rear camera and patented AcuraLink communication system built in.

Conclusion

There is no question that the new 2013 Acura ILX has borrowed a few parts from the Honda Civic. With the safety of a Civic and a selling price starting at $25,900, the LXI lands on the middle ground between security and appealing design. But for those who are concerned with safety and affordability over luxury, the Acura ILX is a solid option.

by Annabella Clavette

Car Talk’s “Click and Click” Brothers are Calling it Quits After 25 Years

Ray and Tom Magliozzi of Car Talk

Well there is some surprising news in the automotive and media world today.  Tom and Ray Magliozzi who are the hosts of the very popular radio show “Car Talk” on National Public Radio (NPR) are calling it quits after more than 25 years on the air.  The news was confirmed on the Car Talk website via the staff blog in a posting entitled “Time to Get Even Lazier.”   The two brothers and hosts of the show stated they would not be continuing with the popular radio show.  They are also known as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers.”

“As of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows.   That’s right, we’re retiring.” declared Tom on the Car Talk blog.  The show will still have reruns though as Ray said, “Every week, starting in October, NPR will broadcast a newly assembled Car Talk show, selected from the best material in our archives.”

I am personally a huge fan of Car Talk and was very upset to hear this news.  I am sure lots of other people are as well.

19th Century Romanian Wagon For Sale!

19th Century Romanian Wagon at Second Chance

A couple days ago I stopped by a neat warehouse in downtown Baltimore called Second Chance.  The motto of the place is “Retrain, Reclaim, Renew!”  Essentially the idea is to deconstruct buildings instead of demolishing them.  This saves materials, valuable resources, and money.  After deconstructing a building Second Chance takes building materials as well as furniture, cabinets, sinks, toilets, vanities, counter-tops, statues, mirrors, etc. and sells them in this warehouse.  If you need to buy building material or need a hard to-find part, say a doorknob or handle, Second Chance most likely has it.

There is a lot of really cool and interesting things that Second Chance carries in it's 200,000 sq. foot warehouse.  However, the most interesting item that this Auto Journalist and Blogger found there was a 4-wheeled vehicle, of course.  That was the above pictured 19th Century Romanian Wagon that was up for sale.  For a cool $4,500 you could take it home.  Unfortunately I don't have that kind of money or space to store a wagon, but if you do I recommend going down to Second Chance to check it out!

The Romanian Wagon made me think about how far modern society has come since the horse-drawn carriage days and how automobiles have changed the way people get around.  Imagine having to operate this wagon with a horse?  People complain a lot of about maintaining cars, fueling them up, and washing then, etc.  Think how they have made transportation so much easier and more efficient.  (Funny thing is some farmers and people in many parts of the world still use these types of horse drawn carriages to till soil and to get around.)

The wagon is representative of Second Chance as a whole in my opinion.  Just because something is old, worn, or isn't cutting edge technology doesn't mean it doesn't have value or can't be used by someone.  However, I am glad I didn't have to use the wagon to get to and from Second Chance.

For more pictures of the wagon check out my Flickr Photo Set.