Buying Tips for Used Cars
by Terry Buis
Owner Sun Valley Automotive
Las Vegas Auto Repair
4553 N. Rancho Dr. Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
These buying tips for used cars have been brought to you by “Terry’s Tips” – helpful tips written by Terry Buis, owner of Sun Valley Automotive in Las Vegas, Nevada!
I’ve been a used car fan all my life – I only owned one new car once and was glad to see that one die.
I love the hunt for a great used car. As a mechanic for over 30 years and shop owner since 1988, I have seen my share of good and bad used car stories. And I’ve seen a lot of customers come in who could have used these buying tips for used cars – which would have saved them plenty of money, hassle and time.
Unfortunately, used car lots make it easy……so many vehicles on the same lot, they sparkle and offer warranties…it’s easy to buy a bad car in these places, maybe easier.
But there are good deals out there in the used market. Private parties and even a few second hand dealers can turn up a cool deal.
Whichever path you choose though, it’s wise to look the vehicle over and most importantly know what you are looking at.
Look past the fluff – the fancy stereo, brightly detailed engine, rims and fancy add-ons – because fluff is where most potential used car buyers get led astray. Take this car below, a ride that belonged to Sammy Davis Jr.. A used vehicle like this no doubt has its own type of appeal, but remember – aesthetics and style are only a small part of what you want in a used car.
When selling a car, of course most sellers will say it’s fine. Who wants to point out that it needs tires or a brake job or a timing belt – or that the car leaks oil and overheats.
But it’s a fact of buying a used vehicle: there is maintenance to do and in many cases really ugly issues are being pawned off to an unwary buyer. But don’t let that turn you off from a used car – you just have to be savvy about how to check the car out from the get go.
That’s why the number one thing to remember when it comes to tips for buying used cars is that a pre-inspection is a must. If you don’t have the technical expertise to look over the car – it’s just a bit more work, but that work can pay off handsomely in the end.
Start by talking to your local auto shops first and see what they offer on used car inspections. Ask about pre-purchase inspections, what is performed during the inspections and if there is a charge for the inspection (many shops, like Sun Valley Automotive, offer free inspections on used cars).
Then you can choose a shop to do the used car inspection before you even have a potential car to buy. And if you have a shop already lined up to perform the inspection you will be less likely to be talked into buying a car on the spot – without the inspection.
Keep in mind that a good thorough walk around inspection on a used car will reveal a lot. And can help you to decide whether or not the car will be a good candidate or if you should pass on it. Even though taking the car to get checked will take time, that time can end up saving you thousands of dollars in future repair costs – and can save you from buying a lemon.
Another benefit of a used car inspection is the peace of mind you get. You’ll find out how the car was treated and maintained – also, if there is an item of concern.
When we perform a used car inspection, we not only alert clients to potential problems with the car – but can also provide an estimate of when these problems may need to be repaired. For example, brakes that only have about a month or so left in them – or brakes that will need to be checked in about 6 months again to see how they are holding up. This helps clients to know what types of repair and maintenance costs they can expect down the road if they decide to go with that car.
Another thing – we often see good used cars for sale that are sold at the point where maintenance and service items are needed. For example, when the car is at the 80k to 100k miles point. But don’t dismiss a good car because it may need to be serviced. If the car is at a good price, and in good condition, then a maintenance job is definitely worth it!
Having a shop look over the car with you and then giving you the thumbs up……there is comfort in knowing that your “new-used” car will not leave you stranded at the worst possible time…which is any time it is not working as it should.
(Just as an aside, I never had a day where I was driving and said…. “Now would be a perfect time for a break down!” It’s never that way, usually happens at rush hour Friday at 4:30pm on the 95 and I-15 interchange).
Another often over looked buying tip for used cars it to expect to look at several vehicles – if you take your time, you can definitely find a nice used vehicle. But in my experience, most used car buyers will pass up about five to ten cars before they find a good one with a reasonable price.
So to wrap up this list of used car buying tips:
1. A used car inspection is a must.
2. Don’t let an upcoming maintenance or service job dissuade you from buying a car that is in good condition.
3. Shop around. Take a look at about 5 to 10 cars (at least) before you make a decision on which one to get inspected.
If you live in the Las Vegas area, Sun Valley Automotive offers free used car inspections, (as do most shops, though you may find some that will charge around $20 dollars or so to look the car over – which is money well spent……”IF” the shop has integrity and tells you what they find which is another reason why it’s important to find a good shop for the inspection).
Call ahead and let us know you’re coming in and we’ll be happy to show you what you’re about to purchase and we’ll walk you around and under the car so you can see firsthand the condition of the car.
If Sun Valley Automotive is not close to you when that time comes, look for a reliable repair shop through the BBB or consumer affairs or even through a friend’s recommendations.
Good luck! And thanks for your support and trust in serving your vehicle’s needs.
Till next time, Terry and the Crew wishing you all the best!