Buying a used car
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Buying a Used Car Finding a Car Know what you want Read reports, e.g., www.consumerguide.com Finding a Car - Research ConsumerGuide.com/auto/used Sort by type of car: full size (sedan), compact, SUV Provides recommended buy ratings and evaluations relative to other cars in same category

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Buying a Used Car

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Buying a Used Car


Finding a Car

  • Know what you want

    Read reports, e.g., www.consumerguide.com


Finding a Car - Research

  • ConsumerGuide.com/auto/used

    • Sort by type of car: full size (sedan), compact, SUV

      • Provides recommended buy ratings and evaluations relative to other cars in same category

      • Informs the vehicle life – when it was made ‘98-’02

        • Best buy is ‘99 or ‘00 in this case

      • Primary Tech Features – ABS, Passenger Airbag


Finding a Car - Research

CG Automotive

  • Prices, Ratings and Reviews:Used Cars: Compact Car Reviews & Ratings   Showing 50-56 of 82 CarsPage:050607 08 Show All Results

  • 1998-2001 Nissan Altima Reliability

  • 1998-2001 Nissan AltimaEnlarge     Class: compact car Price Range: $4,000-10,400 Built In: USA Value In Class: 6 (what's this) 12345678910  LowHigh   CG Award: (what's this)

  • Other Altima Reviews:2005 Altima2004 Altima2002-03 Altima1993-97 Altima

  • Other Nissan Reviews:New Car ReviewsUsed Car ReviewsFind a Used 1998-2001 Nissan Altima


Research - Highlights of Car

  • 1998-2001 Nissan Altima: Highlights – Model Levels/Engines/transm

  • Nissan's compact sedan got a major restyling for 1998, adopting a harder-edge appearance, in contrast to the rounded look of its predecessor. Slightly larger in size, though on the same wheelbase as before, Altima also got a mildly revised powertrain and suspension. Overall length grew by 2.6 inches, width and track by about 2 inches. Head and leg room also grew a bit. Four models were available: base XE, volume-selling GXE, sporty SE, andluxury GLE. A firmer suspension went into the SE, which also got standard alloy wheels, wider tires, rear disc brakes (instead of the usual drums), and a body-colored rear spoiler. The GLE included leather upholstery and a power driver's seat. All models used the same 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine, producing 150 horsepower and mated to a standard 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission. Internal engine changes aimed to improve low-speed power delivery, and the automatic transmission was reprogrammed for smoother operation. Antilock brakes were an option. Nissan claimed a 20 percent increase in structural stiffness. Altima had been the company's best-selling U.S. model, fighting in the tight compact family sedan market. Rivals to the restyled edition included the Ford Contour, Mazda 626, and Mitsubishi Galant.

  • Year-to-Year Changes

  • 1999 Nissan Altima: Few changes were evident on Nissan's compact sedan. The SE and GXE gained variable-intermittent wipers, and the GLE got standard alloy wheels. A power antenna now was included in the GXE's optional Security and Convenience package. 2000 Nissan Altima: Just two years after a major redesign, Altima earned a thorough makeover. That included availability of front side airbags, standard in the GLE and optional for SE and GXE. The 2.4-liter engine gained 5 horsepower. SE and GLE sedans gained standard 16-inch tires, replacing the prior 15-inch rubber. They also added a cross-car brace in the engine bay. All Altimas got revisions to steering and suspension, as well as fresh front and rear fascias, a new center console (with automatic transmission), and new rear cupholders. Antilock braking remained optional, except on the base model. A new Appearance & Convenience Package includes the GLE's suspension and 6-speaker audio system. Leather upholstery remained standard for the GLE, optional for SE.

  • 2001 Nissan Altima: No significant changes were made for 2001.


Research – Road Test Review

  • 1998-2001 Nissan Altima: Road Test

  • Review Updated: 02.22.2005

  • Pros

  • Quietness, Ride, Passenger room

  • Cons

  • Automatic-transmission performance

  • Consumer Guide® Road-Test Evaluation

  • Acceleration is little-changed from the prior generation--in short, nothing to shout about. Our test GLE ran 0-60 mph in a so-so 10 seconds with automatic transmission. The 2000 models should be a bit swifter. There's also little change in the transmission's reluctance to downshift promptly, or in its abruptness when it does. Our test GXE returned a somewhat disappointing 20.3 mpg, while our GLE averaged 23.4 mpg, despite hard city driving and performance testing.

  • Expect a smooth, absorbent ride except on washboard surfaces, where minor wheel pattering disturbs the calm. Alas, the ride exacts a tradeoff in mediocre body control over big humps and dips, plus more body lean in tight turns than we prefer. Even so, Altima handling is competently agile, aided by quick steering with good feedback. Braking with ABS proved to be safe and undramatic, if unexceptional by today's standards.


Research - Road Test Review

  • Unlike previous Altimas, the current generation allows 6-footers to sit comfortably in tandem. The cabin still is not wide enough for three adults in back, but leg, knee, and foot space are all good, as is overall head room even with a power moonroof installed. Front bucket seats in the 2000 models are more supportive and better bolstered.

  • The dashboard is nicely laid out, with clean gauges and convenient, guess-free controls that complement a comfortable driver's post. Commuters should welcome the new console-mounted dual cupholders--much more useful than the rickety pull-out contraption of old. Visibility is good except over-the-shoulder, due to high tail styling and wide rear roof posts. Trunk space is good, but not great. A wide rear-bumper shelf makes for some back-straining reaches, and the lid hinges intrude into the cargo area. The cabin has plenty of places for bric-a-brac, though not accessible to rear seaters.

  • Value for the Money

  • Acceptably solid and well-finished, Altima remains a must-see for value-minded buyers, due largely to its low noise levels and soft ride. Trunklids have felt tinny, however. Though unexceptional, Altima ranks as a nice family compact--less bland after the 2000 revamp.

  • Consumer Guide® Road Test Ratings

  • 1999 Nissan Altima XE/GXE Rating

  • Performance6 Fuel Economy8 Ride Quality8 Quietness8

  • Interior Room6 Cargo Capacity6 Insurance Costs4 Value within Class6 Total52


Research Reliability

  • 1998-2001 Nissan Altima: Reliability

  • Trouble Spots

  • Consumer Guide's® Auto Editors have scoured repair bulletins and questioned mechanics to search for commonly occurring problems for a particular vehicle. In some cases we also give possible manufacturer-suggested solutions. In many instances these trouble spots are Technical Service Bulletins posted by the manufacturer, however, we have our own expert looking at additional vehicle problems.

  • Keyless entry: The remote keyless-entry system is difficult to program. (1998) Vehicle noise: A broken BTV valve bracket causes a rattle under the hood. (1999-2000)

  • NHTSA Recall History

  • None to Date.


Finding a Car

  • Know what you want

  • Know what you can afford


Car Budget

  • New Cars = $20,000

    • 3 to 3½ yrs = $10,000 35-50k miles

      • Usage cost $10k + tax + I for 3 yrs

    • Years 4-6 = $6,000 50-85k miles

      • Usage cost $4,000 + tax + I for 3yrs + maint $500

    • Years 7-10 = $3,000 85k+

      • Usage cost $2,000 + tax + maint $1,500

  • Age is critical on cost, Years 5-7 are typically optimal


Finding a Car - Useful Life

  • Know what you want

  • Know what you can spend

  • Determine the car life and miles you need

    • 5,000 miles/yr for 3 yrs, you can handle higher mileage car

    • 15,000 miles/yr for 3yrs, you will need lower mileage car

    • Buy the portion of car you need (e.g., small town, older couple)

  • Determine features you want

    • The used car market discounts heavily for manual transmission, 2 wdr on SUVs


Finding a Car

You are now ready to start looking for a car!

Good sites for car buying:

- cars.com

- autotrader.com

- ebaymotors.com


Finding a Car –Good Price

  • Check the market price for the car – www.autotrader.com

    • Select about 100 mile range

    • Grade levels, engines, features

    • Write down prices to understand what the market is bearing

  • Reference also Blue Book values:

    www.kbb.com or www.nada.com

  • 3 price levels - Lender, trade-in, retail levels


Finding a Car- Who to Buy From

  • Choices

    1. Large Dealer – High margin, overhead, no history, easy to clean up car problems, higher accountability… reputation in town

    2. Small Lot Dealer - Medium margin, overhead, no history, easy to clean up car problems, low accountability…may move or go out of business tomorrow

    3. Private Owner –

    • A. Keeps car like a baby or pet, follows manual, utilizes same mechanic, keeps maintenance records

    • B. Functional maintenance, does not go the extra distance and is concerned about cost more than care

    • C. Irresponsible owner – no maintenance schedule, no records, careless, no clue about cars

  • Private Owner type A is best bet to buy from!


Finding a Car via Phone Criteria

  • Save time using phone interview elimination questions

  • Develop a matrix to pull data from ads

    • Car model, grade level, year, miles, cost, main features, plus elimination questions


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?

  • Who drove the car most of the time?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?

  • Who drove the car most of the time?

  • How many miles are on the car? How many of those were highway miles?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?

  • Who drove the car most of the time?

  • How many miles are on the car? How many of those were highway miles?

  • Has the car ever been in an accident?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?

  • Who drove the car most of the time?

  • How many miles are on the car? How many of those were highway miles?

  • Has the car ever been in an accident?

  • Do you have all the maintenance and repair receipts?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • When the car needed maintenance, where did you take it?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • When the car needed maintenance, where did you take it?

  • If you were going to keep the car, what repairs would you expect to have within the next few months? Years?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • When the car needed maintenance, where did you take it?

  • If you were going to keep the car, what repairs would you expect to have within the next few months? Years?

  • After I look at the car, and if I am still interested, may I take it to my mechanic to have it checked out?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • When the car needed maintenance, where did you take it?

  • If you were going to keep the car, what repairs would you expect to have within the next few months? Years?

  • After I look at the car, and if I am still interested, may I take it to my mechanic to have it checked out?

  • How much rust is on the body?


Bad Car Elimination Questions


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Places that tend to rust first:

    - Around the wheels

    - Anywhere along the bottom of the car

    - Seams in the car

  • Also check for bumper alignment

    If the bumper is not aligned properly, they have probably hit something.


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • How much rust is on the body?

  • Why are you selling the car?

  • Was the car kept in a garage or carport?


Carport


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • Was the car kept in a garage or carport?

  • How badly worn is the interior?


Torn Seat

  • Duct tape

  • Look under seat covers if you can


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • How badly worn is the interior?

  • Is your asking price negotiable? If not, why not?


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • How badly worn is the interior?

  • Is your asking price negotiable? If not, why not?

  • What options does the car have?


Options to look for:

  • Air conditioning

  • Automatic transmission

  • Power windows

  • Power door locks

  • Power steering

  • Power brakes

  • More options = more potential problems


Bad Car Elimination Questions

  • What options does the car have?

  • Do you have the owner’s manual?


Phone Interview Questions

1. Are you the original owner of the car? If not, how long have you owned it? Did you know the original owner?

2. Who drove the car most of the time?

3. How many miles are on the car? How many of those were highway miles?

4. Has the car ever been in an accident?

5. Do you have a file of all the maintenance and repair receipts on the car?


Phone Interview Questions

6. When the car needed maintenance, where did you take it?

7. If you were going to keep the car, what repairs would you expect to have within the next few months? Years?

8. After I look at the car, and if I am still interested, may I take it to my mechanic to have it checked out?

9. How much rust is on the body?

10. Why are you selling the car?


Phone Interview Questions

11. Was the car kept in a garage or carport?

12. How badly worn is the interior?

13. Is your asking price negotiable?

If not, why not?

14. What options does the car have?

15. What is the VIN (Vehicle Identification

Number) so I can check

www.carfax.com?


Important Principles

  • Choose not to fall in love with the car or show that you are falling in love with it. This will affect your ability to negotiate a good price. As a seller, if I sense the person has fallen in love, I am not so willing to reduce the price, because I know they want to buy it.

  • Trust that there will be other cars available!


What to look for

  • Interior

    • Condition sometimes indicates owner’s cleanliness and care

    • Condition gives overall feel for use by family or single person


What to look for

  • Exterior Care - Dents, scratches, dings - look down side of car


What to look for

  • Tire wear –uneven


What to look for

Exterior

  • Dents, scratches, dings

  • Tire wear – uneven

  • Broken glass

  • Lights

    - broken

    - water vapor on inside of lens

    - discoloration of lens


What to look for

Function

  • Oil leaks - look under car for oil on ground

  • White milky oil stuck under cap


What to look for

Function

  • Oil leaks - look under car for oil on ground

  • White milky oil stuck under cap

  • Check oil and transmission fluid

    - Park on level surface

    - Leave engine running when checking

    automatic transmission

    - Turn engine off to check engine oil


What to look for

Function

  • Oil leaks - look under car for oil

  • White milky oil stuck under cap

  • Check oil and transmission fluid

    Dirty engine = oil is black or dark


What to look for

Function

  • Oil leaks - look under car for oil

  • White milky oil stuck under cap

  • Check oil and transmission fluid

    Dirty engine = oil is black or dark

  • Check smoke from exhaust at start up

    (make sure it’s not blue or white)


What to look for

Function

  • Is the Engine Check light on?

    Are there any other warning lights on?


What to look for

Function

  • Is the Engine Check light on?

    Are there any other warning lights on?

  • Check all accessories for operation

    - all windows, locks, power seats, etc.

    - all door locks and handles (stiff?)


What to look for

Function

  • Engine smoothness - rough idle?

  • Noises/squeaks


Test Drive

  • Engine noise change when shifting to drive


Test Drive

  • Engine noise change when shifting to drive

  • Smooth shifting while driving


Test Drive

  • Engine noise change when shifting to drive

  • Smooth shifting while driving

  • Smooth steady breaking


Test Drive

  • Engine noise change when shifting to drive

  • Smooth shifting while driving

  • Smooth steady breaking

  • Smooth engine idle


Test Drive

  • Engine noise change when shifting to drive

  • Smooth shifting while driving

  • Smooth steady breaking

  • Smooth engine idle

  • Pull car to each side in a circle and verify no noise


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down!

    Asking price is not generally the least they will take!


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down

  • Find flaws in car


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down

  • Find flaws in car

  • Complain about something


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down

  • Find flaws in car

  • Complain about something

  • Don’t go alone! Bring a friend when buying the car


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down

  • Find flaws in car

  • Complain about something

  • Don’t go alone - bring a friend when buying the car

  • Ask a mechanic to look at the car

  • Have a few cars in mind


Buying the Car

  • Talk them down

  • Find flaws in car

  • Complain about something

  • Don’t go alone - bring a friend when buying the car

  • Ask a mechanic to look at the car

  • Have a few cars in mind

  • Offer less and let them work up the price


Car Insurance, Title, DMV

Car Insurance

  • Once the price is settled, you will need car insurance to drive the car away

  • You can check car insurance online

    Title – see copy distributed

  • Check for signatures, notary

  • DMV - If title has not been notarized, then you both need to go to the DMV to process the title and get license plates


Congratulations on buying a suitable used car!


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