Here are some of Rod’s main tips: (click here to download template):
Save up before you buy, and don’t aim at buying new unless you have a very good income.
Price should be determined by how much you have saved, not the make or model.
Savings should continue after the fact, both for your next vehicle, and for oncoming expenses. Saving for vehicles should be part of your regular budget.
Once you have determined your price point, you should start using consumer reports to determine the value of vehicles. Kijiji is a helpful place to start, and Edmunds.com.
It is important to see beyond the outer looks of a vehicle.
Be as personal and polite as possible in all correspondance. Use people’s names if you know them, and always say thank-you.
- Has the vehicle been smoked in?
- Can you confirm that the mileage is in KM and not miles?
- Are there any additional mechanical issues we should be aware of?
- How much wear is there on the tires?
- Options: power windows, locks, air conditioning, and cruise?
- Is there any flexibility in price?
Run a VIN check on SGI
If you are satisfied that everything is tiptop, then send a final email stating that you will be offering a lower price than the one listed. Then find a friend and go and look at the car. When you arrive and meet the person, keep in mind that this process is bigger than a car. You are interacting with a person, not a car. So greet them by name, and introduce yourself.
- Do an initial inspection by walking around the car. Look for any bumpy places–this may represent rust, etc.
- Trust your first impressions of the person.
- Check in the glove box.
- Look at the interior for rips or tears.
- Check the tail pipe with the help of a friend. Watch for a puff of black smoke.
- Check the heat and the air conditioner.
- Check all switches.
Consider getting a device to test the engine for errors: equipment that syncs with your phone (http://gopointtech.com/products/). Or, you could try to negotiate with the seller to split an inspection cost at a local repair shop.
- Drive normally, including highway driving.
- Do a hard brake test. Hold the steering wheel loosely, and warn your passenger that you are going to break hard. You want to see if it breaks straight and quickly.
Bring cash in the largest denominations you can get (100.00 dollar bills). Put them in an envelope that contains the amount you are determined to offer. Keep any extra ones in your pocket. Don’t say, “Will you take less.” Instead, take out the envelope, play with the cash a little bit, and then as you look at the person, say: “I have 27 one hundred dollar bills here. I would like to offer that to you for the car. I think that’s what it’s reasonably worth.”