For this part, I’m going to assume you’ve read part I. For this segment, were going to take a look at car values, resale values, expected costs and rate of depreciation.
For simplicity, I’m also going to consider you want to buy a used car within a budget of $7500 and it has to be a sedan from Toyota. The next step is to see which Toyota sedans (used) exist – Corolla and Camry being the most popular with the latter being the more expensive/premium vehicle.
You now need to check out two additional details from your initial shortlist.
Mileage – number of miles driven
Age – current year – model year
The lower the numbers, the better. Where do you see these ? On the various car listing websites!
These are just some of the listing websites but there so exist many more.
What to avoid?
Cars previously a part of a rental fleet.
You’re not really sure how the car was handled/maintained when in a rental fleet so we would recommend avoiding these.
This occurs when a vehicle in an accident were deemed unrepairable by the insurance company (cost of repair exceeds current car value by insurance company). Salvage cars are cars that have been repaired and may not contain genuine/ original parts of the car.
Further definitions here.
What may not necessarily be a bad thing?
A car with an accident/damage on record. Here, it’s best to look at the Carfax report (click to find out).
As a rule of thumb, once you shortlist vehicles you like, always request the seller for a Carfax report. It is a paid report but you as the buyer should never buy one. Always request the seller to provide a Carfax report for the vehicle they are selling. It is their obligation and not yours.
If the Carfax is clean, that’s a good sign. Clean here means the car has had no recalls ( click here), damages reported or accident over it’s lifetime. Here you can also see how previous owners had the car. Number of previous owners doesn’t really make a significant impact on price.
It’s always good to scout the net for various price listings with multiple pictures. Fewer pictures/missing angles means something isn’t right. People try to hide defects with their cars by clever picture angles – but a genuine seller will provide all the pictures.
Key areas include but are not limited to:
Dashboard (showing mileage, gauge cluster)
Doors/body panels (interior and exterior)
infotainment system (if any)
So let’s say you’ve seen over a hundred Toyota Corolla listings between the year 2010-2012 with anywhere from 80,000-120,000 miles, start with the ones with the lowest mileage/age and clean records. Get in touch with the seller and try to fix an appointment to meet, check out the car and test drive it.
Proceed to this step only if you’re really interested in the car. There is no point in testing a car if it’s
A. Way over your 1.1X budget
B. Not your first preference
C. Owner is rude / unwilling to provide further details
It will be a waste of your time as well as theirs if you to check out a car listed at $10,000 while your budget is only $7500.
Compare pricing listed with those found on kbb and edmunds. Dealer listed cars will always cost more than a private seller but that comes with an added benefit that the dealership car may have fewer problems (not always the case, but they can offer a warranty).
There is no harm in considering a car from a dealership due to the slightly higher price. Similarly for private sellers, lower prices don’t necessarily mean a bad car. Could be they’re in a hurry to get rid of it due to financial reasons.
When you’re ready to meet the seller, ask for them to provide you the car title initially so that you know for sure the car you’re checking out is not only clean but registered to the seller.
Do not drive the car if the title does not state the seller’s name as it could be stolen. Make sure the owner owns the car and it is not an active lease.
In the subsequent articles, we will dive into the next steps in your car selection process. We’ll try to cover the various DOs and DON’Ts. Additionally, we’ll try to cover articles on how to navigate through kbb and various car listing sites to check the true value of a car.