T Nation

Buying a Used Car


I'm currently in the process of getting a second car and boy is it a pain. Mostly using Craigslist to find the right one. Between people trying to pawn off pieces of junk, scammers, and over-priced dealership "deals" it's got me going nuts. I'm on a budget and I'm looking for a low mileage, known-to-be-reliable car.

I came across one that seemed like the perfect fit and I was going to drive down to see it tonight. It was listed with a salvage title (which I can deal with if it's been fully and properly repaired). I carfaxed it and it turns out that after the original owner and before the current owner, it went through mechanical repairs where the odometer was dialed back by a good 60K miles. I'm just glad I caught that.

Anyone have tips, ideas, experiences, suggestions. The let-down after what seems good deals just rips my heart out.


I've been fortunate with small family style auto lots. The local ones I've been to have good selection, price range and support. There is also a humongous auction every week where they get the majority of their stock, and if they don't have what you are looking for, they'll go to the auction and get one, inspect it, and clear up any ambiguities in the title.



they are no bullshit, upfront, and helpful.

i have bought two cars from them, both times an enjoyable experience


what's your price range?

what are your needs?

I've found my recent car on craigslist, but yes it can be a pain on there.

I've had good luck in the past with autotrader.com as well.


I have sold two cars to Carmax, and I found the same thing. I have not bought there yet, but I would consider it. You won't find a smokin I-need-out-of-my-payments-because-I-lost-my-job deal that you can find from a private party there, and they need to make x amount of profit on each car, but I don't think you'd get fucked there either. You are going to get a car that's in good shape at a reasonably fair price.

Also, I have bought two cars here: http://www.alttx.com/ You basically tell the guy (Richard) what you want and he goes to auction and finds it, then charges $750 plus a fee for the paperwork. I bought a Tundra and Sequoia this way on lease returns and got a smoking deal both times. No complaints at all. It helps to have someone who really knows the auctions and cars to make sure you don't get screwed. I bet there is an outfit locally that does the same thing.


Make that 3 for CarMax. I just bought a 2008 Tundra from them last week and the whole process was abnormally painless. No upselling or hidden fees, just smooth sailing. I went on the recommendation of a couple of friends who also had good experiences. The only thing I can say that's even remotely negative about them is they WILL NOT budge on their prices, but fortunately you're getting a good deal anyway so it's not that big of a deal.


If you're doing it on your own, I've found that Firestone has a decent inspection deal for $20. If you don't know much about inspecting cars on your own, thats a great service. Any car I buy from a private party in the future will be going through that inspection.


Thanks for all the tips. I'll check out Carmax. I want a low mileage sedan, 4 door hatch back, or station wagon, preferably Japanese, as recent a year as possible (post 2000) for as little Dollars as possible ($8000 ceiling, though I'm hoping to spend less).


You could also just test the oil pressure, and compression of any car that might interest you with a pair of guages. Find out the appropiate ranges; and this will probably be a lot safer and more informative than any carfax report.


Check their website. They have a search engine and you can type in what you want. They'll deliver any car from a store as far as 150 miles to your closest store for free.


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dude carmax is awesome, i sold two piece of shit junk cars to them that were sitting around at our house and made like 1500 bucks