#1 Edited by AcidBrandon18 (747 posts) -

I'm planning on buying my very first car soon and would like to ask you duders if there is anything I should look for or pay attention to during the buying process. I've saved up a good sum of money and plan to pay upfront for my car. I'm shooting for a nice car in the 10k-15k range.

#2 Posted by Clonedzero (4200 posts) -

Cheap, reliable, and easy to fix.

#3 Posted by Church069 (250 posts) -

Before going to any type of dealerships, do your research on the car you want to buy. Are you shopping new or used? What can you afford in the price range you set? What kind of down payment can you afford? What kind of monthly payment do you want? What is your credit score? If your credit score is bad or you have no credit, do you know anyone willing to co-sign with you?

If you are going to test drive a car at a dealer, be prepared for them to hound you on making a deal immediately.

Biggest piece of advice is if you don't like the deal being presented to you by the salesman, just walk away. You can always find a better deal elsewhere.

#4 Posted by jorojoserojas (258 posts) -

Used? New?

#5 Posted by jorojoserojas (258 posts) -

@church069: I think he said he plans to pay for it upfront. So I'm thinking financing won't be an issue.

#6 Posted by JackSukeru (5913 posts) -

Unlike in most videogames, they run on gas and can run out of it, they don't explode as easy and it's much harder to lose the cops.

#7 Posted by TheHBK (5486 posts) -

Buy used. You get a nicer car and the value you get isn't fucked like on a new car. Yeah yeah, new cars are nice, but that is if you have the money and don't care about the value you get. In the 10 to 15k range, you can get something nice that is a couple years old. Just go take a look, make sure you test drive and take someone with you to ride in the back and notice things you wouldn't. Because not only should you like how the car looks, but how it drives, how it steers, the cup holder placement, how easy is it to shift, gas, reliability. That's also why used is a good idea because if the car was gonna not be reliable, the reports on reliability for that model year would be out. So you are looking at maybe a 2011 or 2012 model year now that 2014s are starting to roll out. Do you know what kind of car and space you would like to have?

Another thing to consider is that since this is your first car, you need to be mindful of insurance. So if you are young and not much insurance history, don't go buying a 2 seater sports car. A sedan will be cheaper to insure.

As for used, you could get a late model car, or if you want to go a little nicer, luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes will have more miles on them but will still be nice cars. BMW in particular, Mercedes was not so hot in the 2000s.

So when you go to a dealership, don't let them rope you into talking numbers. Most places won't start talking price until you agree to sit down and give them your info. Make it clear, that you are still looking.

#8 Posted by Zelyre (1201 posts) -

I was about to say, if you're going to finance, go to the bank/credit union first. But, since you're paying cash...

I wonder if it'd hurt to go to the bank, ask about financing a vehicle that you intend to pay off in one payment. I paid off my vehicle loan in half the time and when it came time to get a mortgage, my credit score was in the 800's.

I'd find cars you want online, first. Make a list of features, then a list of makes/models that have those features. Then look at gas consumption. You know your price range, so that will help a ton.

Don't mention you're paying in one lump sum before a price is negotiated. I imagine they'd try to go higher if they know they're not milking 20%apr out of you.

Bring a list of cars with you when you look. Even if you're not looking at other cars, the threat of you walking out to see that same make/model at another seller should give you some clout. Photoshop those lists, too. Push those prices down to what you're willing to pay. When the dealer says they won't budge, simply pull up that stack of paper that shows Dealership X 50 miles away selling at just around the price you're willing to pay. If they let you walk, walk.

Ask if you can take the vehicle to -your- mechanic to have it checked out. Your mechanic can probably spot stuff you can't; and if the dealer says no, I'd assume something is up. (Especially with the number of flood cars that are probably out there. Even if the car isn't a flood car, who's to say it wasn't "repaired" with flooded parts?)

Most importantly, there isn't another customer who called earlier in the day who wants to look at the same car you're looking at.

#9 Edited by Darson (451 posts) -

Unlike in most videogames, they run on gas and can run out of it, they don't explode as easy and it's much harder to lose the cops.

Although compared to GTA V, losing the 5-0 is much much easier in real life.

#10 Posted by Pirateogta (69 posts) -

@darson said:

@jacksukeru said:

Unlike in most videogames, they run on gas and can run out of it, they don't explode as easy and it's much harder to lose the cops.

Although compared to GTA V, losing the 5-0 is much much easier in real life.

Yeah, if you get out of their sight and hide in an alleyway for 30 seconds, the cops usually stop searching for you.

#11 Posted by psylah (2177 posts) -

Here's my tip: If you plan on buying, look online for the same make / model (and a similar year range) that are similarly priced or cheaper. Then go to the place that has the car you want, and say "I can go to any of these other places, and get the same thing for less money. Why should I buy from you?" They should knock down the price significantly, if not undercut their competition for the sale.

I also found that used cars traded in at brand-specific lots (Ford dealerships, Mercedes dealerships) will be willing to go low on a car if it is not of their brand. I got over 5k knocked off of my 350z by going for the one being sold at a Cadillac dealership and using the method in the above paragraph.

@thehbk said:

As for used, you could get a late model car, or if you want to go a little nicer, luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes will have more miles on them but will still be nice cars. BMW in particular, Mercedes was not so hot in the 2000s.

I'd advise against a used BMW, the reason why you can get an early 2000's 7 series for 15k, the repair costs for BMWs when they are out of warranty are sky-high. You WILL pay out the ass for parts and service unless you're sleeping with your mechanic.

You are right about those 2000's Mercedes though, the Daimler Chrysler era Mercedes were some of the worst. My parents had an E-class that was in and out of the shop yearly.

#12 Posted by AcidBrandon18 (747 posts) -

@jorojoserojas: Used. I don't have the money for a new car. But I'm shooting for a nice used car.

#13 Posted by AcidBrandon18 (747 posts) -

I'm appreciating the feedback. I just have to be smart and know what I want when I go in. I hear car dealers can be some of the worst people to deal with at times and I have to make sure they don't take advantage of me. I've driven in the past so insurance shouldn't be too bad as most of my previous cars have been hand me downs and I've had no accidents. I'm currently driving a Ford Econoline Van and it is terrible, but I'm trying to make it last till tax return season. I know that I don't want a truck/suv and am shooting for something under 100,000 miles. No sport cars like Mustangs etc. I'm thinking like a modern sedan.

#14 Edited by Korwin (2866 posts) -

Do your research, especially when it comes to things like reliability. The last thing you want to do is sink just as much if not more money into it to keeping it running. Japanese cars on the whole are generally going to be the most reliable (Mazda and Honda are the only 2 companies with an 8% failure rate which is the lowest in the world) and cheap to maintain.

Also just keep the damn thing stock... don't ruin it.

#15 Posted by Avanzato (87 posts) -

Make a list and test drive several models. The last time I bought a car it wasn't one on my first list because there was something I didn't like with all of those cars.

Be open to suggestions the sales person makes about other cars to consider as they may be right.

It is really easy to say you need to think about it and walk out.

Luxury cars and sports models are great until you need to get them fixed at which point everyone will assume you are loaded, unless you are loaded in which case it doesn't matter.

#16 Posted by troll93 (388 posts) -

It is generally worth having a look to see how many cars of the type that you want are/were sold in your country. If they have sold a bunch of them, you will generally get a better deal on parts for them. For example, here is Australia one of the best selling cars is a holden commodore, and you can generally get a pretty good deal on parts for then, either through third party manufactures or second hand parts. Also, take the car to an independent mechanic. If they won't let you, walk away, don't say another word to them it is not worth it.

As far as dealership vs private, I always prefer to buy cars privately as most dealerships are really shitty, and I feel like you are able to make a better deal as you are just talking to a person, not a person running a company that needs to make profit of this.

Finally, always, ALWAYS run a vin check. From a quick google you can get one done online for around $30, and it should tell you if it has been in any major accidents/floods.

Other then that, good luck.

#17 Posted by Icemo (642 posts) -

Few tips when buying an used car:

Check underneath the car to see if there is a lot of rust. If there is, then the exterior of the car might get rusty too sooner or later.

Walk around the car and knock all the panels with your hand gently to hear if some panel makes a deeper sound than the other panels. That deeper sound usually means that some sort of repair kit has been used to fix that panel, because that car has been in a crash. You should find out from the seller what kind of an crash it has been, because if the frame of the car has been hit, then all the tension has been released from the frame and the handling of the car gets worse.

Open up the bonnet and listen to the engine. Try to listen if there are any disturbing noises, like clanking or screeching. Those might indicate engine failure in some cases, but it depends on the engine.

Try to shake every wheel of the car with both of your hands. If you hear a clank, then the bearings or bushings might be broken and those need to be repaired.

I have a few other tips too but I'm tired of writing more.

#18 Edited by tread311 (356 posts) -

Make sure to research online first with sites like Edmunds and KBB. You want to have a pretty firm number you are looking for when you go to buy it or they will try to take advantage of you. If you go somewhere and they aren't getting down to your number than walk away, somebody else will.

#19 Edited by gomezar7 (61 posts) -

Like everyone's saying the key is having a price you want to pay. Figure it out, then start looking.

But from experience don't settle and don't buy something boring. You won't like it and will be less inclined to take care of it. The car i have now, I love. If hear something odd or feel I should have it checked out for any reason I do it. Not because its my means of getting place to place but because I like the car.

And don't listen to people like Korwin. He is just being a dick. If you buy a car and want to modify it, do it. I firmly believe cars are just the toys you buy when you're growing up. My car feathers its tires so i had it lowered and a camber kit installed to fix the problem. My brother just modified his Nissan 300zx to be lowered and cambered to fit 10.5 inch wheels and tires, plus a body kit. It looks fantastic the body shop he took it to last week remarked on how the parts fit like they are OEM. Both of us have upgraded exhausts for our cars also. Of course this takes money, but modification does not ruin anything except a classic. (I can get pics of both our cars if anyone feels inclined to call me a liar.)

Bottom line, buy something you want to drive every day, not that you are forced to drive everyday.

#20 Edited by diz (918 posts) -

If buying a 2nd hand car, check the following:

Find and check that chassis and engine numbers match and are not tampered with

The "shuts" (lines where all the bodywork panels meet and doors close) are even and straight. If not, this can be a sign of a previous accident

Check any crumple zones are unaltered (i.e. in the boot/trunk) by pulling away any carpets to inspect the zone

Check wear on the seat- belts, seats and pedals, since excessive wear can be a sign of hard use and it should match the given mileage

Check tyres for even wear and look out for excessive wear on the edges of a tyre as this could mean geometry problems or that the car has been driven hard

Systematically check every switch and function (wipers, lights, windows, etc)

Take a small magnet to search for rust or filler used on bodywork (which should seem less magnetic than good bodywork) on a steel bodied car

Check the oil dip-stick. If the oil is black and sludgy this is a sign of a poorly serviced car. The oil should be clear amber on the stick

German cars (merc/bmw/vw) are good 2nd hand bets and the cost of parts can be fairly cheap, since many places stock "patterned" (non-original but still good) replacement parts

Check to see you can get insured in the car you're looking for

#21 Edited by jayjonesjunior (1090 posts) -

Get a manual, like real men.

#22 Posted by TheCreamFilling (1225 posts) -

Make sure the car was previously owned by old people.

#23 Edited by tourgen (4507 posts) -

Get a manual, like real men.

yeah, get the Haynes manual for your car. There is good maintenance stuff in there too even if you never use any of the repair sections.

#25 Posted by Pezen (1606 posts) -

If at all possible, bring someone with you that really knows cars. When I bought my current car, it was helpful to have a second set of eyes (and ones that truly knows cars in and out) and a second set of opinions to listen to.

#26 Edited by aurahack (2272 posts) -

Bring someone with you who either knows cars or can haggle especially well. Both if you can. My sister was able to knock off like, 4K off her new Fiesta Titanium, hopefully you can get someone to pull an equally good deal for you.

If you're buying used, you might want to look into Japanese cars. The Shaken test over there has essentially made manufacturers ensure their cars are as durable as possible, hence why you kinda see old-ass Honda Civics still driving around like they're new. Both Honda and Mazda have the best record in terms of durability, IIRC.

But as someone who's only ever co-owned a car with his parents, I'll give my stupid advice that comes from nothing other than being a car nut: Feel matters a whole lot. Getting good mileage and a car in prime condition is great but it won't matter if you don't like driving it. Double that for when you have to take care of it. If you get a smile on your face every time you sit down in it and drive, you'll be way more inclined to keep it in good condition and that will pay off in the long run.

Good luck!

#27 Posted by Veektarius (4843 posts) -
@tourgen said:

@jayjonesjunior said:

Get a manual, like real men.

yeah, get the Haynes manual for your car. There is good maintenance stuff in there too even if you never use any of the repair sections.

I believe he meant a manual transmission

#28 Posted by Teoball (607 posts) -

A lot of good advice in this thread.
The only car I've ever owned(and still drive every day) was given to me by my father when he wanted a new one. Good old 1988 Volvo 240 that is still in perfect shape, even after I've owned it for the last 10 years.

#29 Posted by AcidBrandon18 (747 posts) -

Man. I'm surprised this thread got bumped. I appreciate all the feedback from you guys. I ended up buying a 2011 Scion Tc for about $16,000 back in February. It's a really nice car, but the USB jack doesn't work which is kind of lame.

#30 Edited by Gatehouse (627 posts) -

I'm guessing you're in America, so have a look whether you'd be able to get parts easily and cheaply in case stuff goes wrong. I'm not sure what it's like over there when it comes to getting parts for European and Asian cars, maybe someone can enlighten me. Reliability is a lovely thing to have, but sooner or later, something will break or wear out on any car.

Also, try and get something that you like driving and has a nice interior. I know that sounds silly to say, but if you're going to be spending a lot of time there, do your best to make it a pleasant experience. A nice chassis, a peppy engine and a calming cabin really will help when it comes to stress relief.

EDIT - Well, that's what I get for taking ages to write a message, glad you got something nice @acidbrandon18.

#31 Edited by BlamBlam (46 posts) -

I believe this to be relevant. Scion!

#32 Edited by Corvak (1086 posts) -

@gatehouse said:

I'm guessing you're in America, so have a look whether you'd be able to get parts easily and cheaply in case stuff goes wrong. I'm not sure what it's like over there when it comes to getting parts for European and Asian cars, maybe someone can enlighten me. Reliability is a lovely thing to have, but sooner or later, something will break or wear out on any car.

Also, try and get something that you like driving and has a nice interior. I know that sounds silly to say, but if you're going to be spending a lot of time there, do your best to make it a pleasant experience. A nice chassis, a peppy engine and a calming cabin really will help when it comes to stress relief.

EDIT - Well, that's what I get for taking ages to write a message, glad you got something nice @acidbrandon18.

Most Asian cars are easy to find - your typical Toyota is manufactured in north america, with north american parts, so the same infrastructure exists as with domestic cars. European cars really depend - if its a popular make, its not too bad, but if you get more and more obscure, it becomes harder and costlier to find parts.

If I had one tip, i'd look at Kia. Standard models come pretty loaded with features compared to similarly priced cars, and I know a few people who own them and have had few problems.

#33 Posted by Tireyo (6413 posts) -

All I can say is stay away from the Nissan Versa, and buy used.

#34 Posted by Spankmealotus (285 posts) -

I'm not sure why this is all of the sudden being responded to since it was 9 months ago when the question was asked and AcidBrandon18 already made a purchase. However in case anyone is looking at this for their own information besides Brandon. You should know that if you're going to finance through a dealership that the negotiation for price does NOT stop at the price tag. You can and should also negotiate the interest rate down as well. They will tell you that whatever rate they say first is a great rate. You can be sure that you can get better. Dealerships make a lot of their money off the financing and not necessarily the listed price of the car.

#35 Posted by Belegorm (406 posts) -

Used cars are a decent idea but be aware that you end up often paying more over the long run in repairs. Or in just getting the damn things to pass e-check.

However all my car friends always recommend Honda, their cars last forever.