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used cars

raingirl
June 27th, 2005, 08:23 PM
anyone have any tips for buying a used car? Better to go with a private sale or dealership?

I'm looking for something about 5 years old (late 90's or early 00's), small, gas efficient, automatic, tinted windows, and power windows...those are my only mandatory requirements.

I tried autotrader.ca...but it doesn't give you the option to search what a car has, you can only search make/model and price range.

I don't really have the $$ for a change in vehicle right now, but I need a better one if I am to suceed at my dream job (I need a RELIABLE car that will be ok with lots of weekly milleage around southern ontario as I will be having to travel a lot to see clients etc)

I've rounded my choices down to honda civic, toyota echo, or VW golf or GTI. I won't buy american cars.

Dogastrophe
June 27th, 2005, 08:41 PM
there are pros and cons with each:

Private:
usually lower price
no GST (but will have to pay provincial tax when you register - I'm guessing this is standard across Canada)
taking the owners word on any problems
no warranty

Dealer (assuming a new car dealer)
usually higher price
GST and PST will be added
may come with a limited warranty
may have a 'certified pre owned' inspection (VW and Honda have these)

raingirl
June 27th, 2005, 08:53 PM
Having worked in insurance, at least I know not how to get screwed around with buying cars from a private sale. I know which tests/reports to run. I'm still warey though.

the car also has to be cheap...well....cheap in that it has to be under $9000...so that probably means late 90's cars.

the certified pre-owned I see tend to be a lot more than cars of the same age on autotrader. Hmm..

Dogastrophe
June 27th, 2005, 09:04 PM
A lot of the certified pre-owned that are in the 3 to 5 year range are ones that are coming off lease, and will generally have a decent service record. IMO, good call on going foreign. I was the 3rd owner of a 93 Jetta (bought it in 02 with 220K on it, sold it two months ago with 280k on it); best car I ever had. Have a 99 Saturn that I've had since new - if the Jetta had have been four years newer I would have dumped the Saturn in a heartbeat.

JDG
June 27th, 2005, 09:11 PM
Actual physical things to look for:

1. Make sure all the body panel seems have an EVEN gap between them. If they are not even the car may have been in an accident. Eg. The hood to the front side panels.

2. Check the paint, make sure all pieces are the same batch colour. Also check areas like the wheel wells to make sure the car hasnt been repainted (again another sign of an accident)

3. Look for rust, places like the edge of the inside of the open hood once, wheel wells, door fixtures

4. If smoking is an issue for you, check to cigarette lighter to see if its been used.

5. Newer cars have 'etched' glass and body panels, each with the cars serial number. If you see the etched numbers on the windows check the other panels to make sure they are all orginal to the car.

6. Learn the 'lingo' of car serial numbers - take VW for instance, if in the first couple of letters there is a WW that means its a GERMAN MADE VW, if its M's then its made in MEXICO. German made VWs are still much better quality, but will cost you a little more.
--------------------------------

Things we found were helpful

1. Take a bottle of water, some time things that look like damage come off with a little H20

2. Ask people you know about their cars, what they like, what they don't

3. If you know anyone who owns a dealership etc, have them look in the dealer guides for 'real' prices.

4. Test drive as many cars as you can

5. Make a list, and stick to it. Don't let the salesmen be pushy with you. Salesmen are on commission, the more money you spend, they more money they make!

6. Narrow your field down to 3 or 4 types/models of cars you like, and just go look at them. You will start to see things that are common, and things that don't jive much quicker


Good luck!

happycats
June 27th, 2005, 09:30 PM
I've rounded my choices down to honda civic, toyota echo, or VW golf or GTI. I won't buy american cars.

We have a GTI and a Jetta, ,and just LOVE them, VW all the way!!

JDG
June 27th, 2005, 09:41 PM
I've rounded my choices down to honda civic, toyota echo, or VW golf or GTI. I won't buy american cars.

OMG, I didn't even notice this line until happy cats quoted it!
We narrowed our search down to Honda Civic, Toyota Echo, Toyota Corrola, VW Golf!!!

We bought a Honda Civic DX-G

happycats
June 27th, 2005, 09:52 PM
OMG, I didn't even notice this line until happy cats quoted it!
We narrowed our search down to Honda Civic, Toyota Echo, Toyota Corrola, VW Golf!!!

We bought a Honda Civic DX-G

LMAO!! :D
We narrowed our search to Honda Civic, Toyota (don't remember which one Hubby was looking at) and VW (I wanted a Jetta)

We bought a VW GTI (hubby wanted standard, I wanted automatic, so we got a tiptronic!!) We love it :love:

Writing4Fun
June 27th, 2005, 10:09 PM
When we were looking for a used car for hubby, we did a lot of research. We found out that the Honda Civic tends to rust early because the panels are made of a thinner material than, say, the Corolla. We also vowed never to buy an American-made vehicle after our "experience" with a Dodge Caravan, but we discovered that the Ford Escort was actually one of the more reliable vehicles on the road in the price range we were considering (under $3000). It's what we went with in the end - a station wagon, actually. It's been doing very well for us - hubby drives 70km to work each day, one way!

When we were looking for something for me to drive (to replace the Caravan), we went with an off-lease CR-V because, again, it was one of the most reliable and safest vehicles in our price range, and got better mileage than the Caravan did. ;) Again, we're very happy with it so far, as well as with the service we get from our Honda dealer.

AliSam
June 27th, 2005, 10:25 PM
I am a proud Honda Civic owner. It is a 1999 LX sedan with $214,000 km on it. I have never had a single problem with it. We bought it used in 2000 from a dealership that had it as a daily rental. Honda is the way to go if you are looking for something that is going to have a ton of mileage put on it. I used to put around 600kms a week on it. The only thing I have had to replace (obviously) is tires. The only complaint I have about it is it is horrible in any kind of winter weather. Snow tires may help with that though.

Of course, the best thing about my Civic - the GAS MILEAGE!!!! :p

No matter what kind of car you get, regular maintenance is key.

JDG
June 27th, 2005, 10:36 PM
Of course, the best thing about my Civic - the GAS MILEAGE!!!! :p


I get over 500 KM on a tank of gas, CITY DRIVING!

Yeah for Civics!!!!!!!!!!

Front end covers for civics stop or elivate any rust.
Ours is kept in a covered underground car park.

twinmommy
June 27th, 2005, 10:40 PM
We've always gotten our used cars inspected.

Take it to the respective dealer as they'll have the more elaborate diagnostics and see wht they say.

Usually about 50-75 $ and will be well spent :thumbs up

Writing4Fun
June 27th, 2005, 10:44 PM
Forgot to mention...

If I were in the market for a new car today, and I didn't have the kids and all their gear to carry around, I would so be getting a Smart Car! Something like 70 miles to the gallon (sorry, too tired to convert tonight) and apparently very safe because of their "egg" shaped frame. I was speaking with an owner and he said they're just fine on the highway as well (he's always driving around in his - he runs a company called "Smarts on Site" - mobile techies who troubleshoot computers at your location - so having a Smart Car is great advertising for him as well :p ). Very roomy inside, too, as long as there aren't more than two of you in the car. :D And, considering you're getting a Mercedes, they're pretty cheap - something like $17,000 fully loaded.

Safyre
June 27th, 2005, 10:57 PM
W4F - Have the smart cars been put through the saftey tests? You know the ones they usually show on 20/20 or dateline, that give poor, sastifactory, fair or good? they are a lil harder than the federal tests. I havn't seen any reports, I'd be terribly concerned about a Smart Car vs an SUV.

Anyways, I have a 2002 Ford Focus SE, which is a great lil care. Got it back in 2002, it was a used lease car with close to 60 000 on it, all highway driving. no accidnets, routine maintence, and got it for a really good price. I put the extended warranty on it, so I added 5 years so its covered till 2008. I personally like dealerships, as long as you know what you are looking for and stand your ground, and know what questions to ask.

Prin
June 28th, 2005, 01:17 AM
I LOVE shopping for used cars... Well.. cars in general...

Here's what I have to say.

I know in Quebec, if you buy a used car from a dealer, you pay both taxes, and if you buy from a person, you pay one tax, which can save you a few hundred dollars.

If you buy from a person, GET IT INSPECTED by YOUR garage. Absolutely. Absolutely.

When you are out on the test drive, try to be allowed to go alone. Find a straight, level piece of road, accelerate to about 30 or 40 (or whatever is comfortable), and SLAM on the brakes. If a car has been accidented, it will pull to one side. The weight distribution gets buggered when you repair a car after an accident. If the dude says "oh, it's just the alignment", that's not true at all, because the car follows the direction of the momentum, not the direction of the wheels. Where the weight goes, the car goes.

Also, PUSH the car. It's not yours yet, so drive it like a 16 year old boy. That is how you will hear weird noises and squeaks and rattles. Take corners hard. Accelerate hard. Have fun. :)

Used car dealers are marked up a minimum of $2000.

Look for "orange peel paint". Look at how the paint reflects-- repainted stuff will have the texture of an orange peel compared to the rest of the car.

Ask tons of questions: what has been done on it? Do you have maintenance records? Was it ever rust-proofed? Have you had the timing belt/water pump changed yet? Any other belts changed? Battery? What tires are included? How old are they? Why are you selling it?

If you can, buy the Consumer Reports (or at least read it). If you look at their charts, you will probably decide against a Volks. You will probably lean toward a Civic or a Corolla. Corolla's are cheaper, more reliable, but certainly less sexy and less powerful than a Civic. Remember too, that not all of them are built the same-- the Civic DX/LX, EX have 105 horsepower, and the Si has 127 (in the older models (pre-2000). The Consumer Reports has a "Used Cars to Avoid" list, which is very useful. Those cars are going to have buckets of trouble for sure. Their recommended list is basically everything made by Honda, Acura, Lexus and Toyota... Which reminds me, sometimes the Acura 1.6 EL sells for cheaper than the Civic EX (which has less hp too), because there is not really a niche in the market for a used, small luxury sedan. Civics are in really high demand, which drives up the prices, but also keeps the resale value up.

Keep in mind too, that after 7 years, Honda's and Toyota's start to need a few repairs. American cars usually tough 2 or 3 years, VW's and Audis usually 3 to 4 years before the major trouble starts. I know a few people with Audis who have had their cars in the shop from literally the second week after getting them. The German cars have really gone down in reliability in the past 10 years.

Is that enough? I have more, I'm just not thinking of it right now. :)

Oh, don't LOOK for tinted windows. Have them done afterward. Chances are someone with the tinted windows would have driven the car harder than a person with clear windows, if you know what I mean. Don't get a car with ANY modifications, other than maybe a CD player. Big mufflers, funky pedals, different lights, etc, can indicate how the person drove the car. You want an 86 year old grandma's once-a-week shopping car, not a 25 year old guy's fun car...

done.

Prin
June 28th, 2005, 01:24 AM
And one more thing, 85% of the Corollas ever made are still on the road today. (That includes my aunt's 1972 corolla hatchback).

And in case you're wondering, I drive an Acura 1.6 EL. It's a 1997, and I haven't had much trouble with it considering I drove out west with it in the middle of winter, and came back in 30 degree weather all the way... I haven't done much maintenance on it since I went back to school, and it starts. I don't know why, but it starts. Every day. I'm up to 210 000 kms on it, and it still runs really well. I can still smoke a Ford Mustang in it (hint, hint, don't buy any used cars from ME :D ). Can't wait to have a real job with a salary so I can get my Civic Si Hatchback.... :) Or maybe RSX-S (six speed of course)... I'm sort of loyal to Acura now... :) Nobody gives you service like Acura dealers... Wow. Toyota dealers are not so hot though.

Lizzie
June 28th, 2005, 08:53 AM
Too funny! When we were looking we had narrowed our search down to a Honda Civic or Toyota Echo!

My suggestion would be to buy one of these cars direct from the dealership. You tend to get a heartier car that had one owner, was looked after and returned to the dealership simply for the owner to buy yet another Honda or Toyota.

These dealerships also have a reputation to uphold, offer certified used cars (which we have and is a wonderful assurance), and because they often have a lot of cars on the lot, you can bargain with them. Don't forget that if you recently graduated from university you quality for a grad rebate of 500-1000 bucks at these dealerships too!

As for price, well...for around $9,000 you'll be looking at a Toyota Tercel (Echos weren't out in the 90s) or a 1990s Honda Civic. Anything in the last 4-5 years will be much more than that...these aren't cars that depreciate quickly, which certainly makes it tough for buying used. BUT, they are worth it!!!

When you are looking at cars, my advice would be to ensure that you never buy a used car that is rusting...or has been in an accident as it will rust much quicker. Honda will give you the carfax report on any vehicle you're interested in....Toyota might too, but I can't say for sure.

Prin
June 28th, 2005, 11:13 AM
Better than that. A Tercel 1999 would go for around 6000 or 7000 now. Personally, I'd rather a tercel because they handle better in the wind than an Echo.

I'd say a 98/99 1.6 EL would be around $6000-8000 now (mine is worth far less than $6000 because of the Kms). Honda Accord 1998 and 1999 are going for under $9000 now. Civics-- 2000's are going for between $7000-9000 if you keep your eyes peeled...

Go here:
http://www.autotrader.ca/default.aspx?goto=redirect&ref=redirect

Prin
June 28th, 2005, 11:22 AM
I forgot, if you are a member of CAA, you can call them with the car, year, transmission, kms, etc and they will give you the real value of it.

Or you can go to the Toyota website, and pretend you're buying a new car, select a car, and move to the next step. Eventually, at the bottom, it'll say "trade in" and there is a little box to check the value of your trade in, and you end up in the black book listings. I can't find it anywhere else on the internet, and sometimes the Toyota site doesn't let you do it...

kandy
June 28th, 2005, 01:20 PM
I worked in the automotive industry for many years (in a mechanic's shop and in a body shop) - and one thing you can do to see if the car has been in an accident is to take a magnet and a piece of paper (use the paper under the magnet to avoid scratching the car). If you find a spot that the magnet won't stick to - then it's bondo (filler used to fill in dents). I don't know if this will work with the new mostly plastic cars though. Looking for changes in the paint is a good idea. However, the car may have been repainted because the owner wanted a different color - look at the door jambs to see if the entire car was redone. Most people won't pay the extra money to have the door jambs painted if they change the car's color. Looking for larger than normal gaps in between panels is also a good idea but just because the gaps are all even doesn't mean the panel hasn't been replaced. The larger gaps come from aftermarket parts (versus original equipment replacements) that don't fit quite like the factory ones do. If the person had panels replaced with factory made new panels - there wouldn't be any larger gaps.

Also, the thing about slamming on the brakes to determine if the car has been in an accident isn't always reliable. It would work if the frame got bent and was never fixed or wasn't fixed properly but other than that, it won't tell you anything except maybe how good the brakes are. Having the car pull to one side or another could be anything from broken tie rods or stabilizer bars to bad alignments to bent frames.

If you put a cover on the front end of your car, be sure to take it off after it rains or before you wash it. If moisture gets under it and isn't allowed to dry (both the cover and the car), it will ruin the paint on your car.

Also be sure to look under the car - look for any spots where the car is sitting for possible oil leaks or any other kind of leak. If you see a spot on the concrete, stay there a minute and watch the underside of the car to see where it's dripping from.

You can get a carfax report on any car (I think it costs about $10 per car, or unlimited reports for $25) as long as you have the serial number. If you find a car you are interested in, get the serial number and you can get your own report (even if it's a private party selling the car). Also, if you go to a dealer - know your credit score before you go. If you don't then the dealer will tell you that your credit isn't good enough and you'll end up paying more in finance charges than you need to.

Good Luck!

raingirl
June 28th, 2005, 09:53 PM
wow. Lots of tips. Thanks guys!

ok...now I have few more questions.

We've always gotten our used cars inspected.

Take it to the respective dealer as they'll have the more elaborate diagnostics and see wht they say.

Usually about 50-75 $ and will be well spent

how do you do this? Before you buy the car? What if it's a private sale? Do you ask to get them to bring the car to a garage for the check? if it's a dealer can we get our own mechanic to assess it?

Better than that. A Tercel 1999 would go for around 6000 or 7000 now. Personally, I'd rather a tercel because they handle better in the wind than an Echo.

I'd say a 98/99 1.6 EL would be around $6000-8000 now (mine is worth far less than $6000 because of the Kms). Honda Accord 1998 and 1999 are going for under $9000 now. Civics-- 2000's are going for between $7000-9000 if you keep your eyes peeled...

I would love to see where you are seeing prices like this. The tercels are close but appear to be a little more in Ontario (at least a $1000 more). But the acura's are way off. a 1997 with 169K on it is $14900 on autotrader, and all the newer ones are a lot more. Maybe I should drive to quebec for a car??? heheh

As for the Smart Cars Safyre, they are probably one of the SAFEST cars on the road right now. The car is higher up than more cars (about the height of a small SUV) so doesn't get hit as hard by smaller cars or larger cars. plus, it is built around a "roll cage" so to speak. It's called a trition safety cell...that's why they are two colours. One colour (either black or silver) is the safety cell, the other colour is the panels (red, blue, green or black). They are safer than all other small cars on the road, safer tham most small sedans and a lot safer than most SUV's.

I already know all about black book values (doubt I would get anything for my antique anyway...nothing more than $500 if even that) and carfax and all that. I was an insurance adjuster before in the auto department, so I learned all about that.

In regards to accidents, the reason I should look for evidence of accidents is because the owner could have been in an accident and not reported it right? Because all reported accidents would be on a carfax anyway.

The reason we are leaning towards a VW is that they are one of the cheapest cars to insure across the board (all models/years). Insurance companies release this book each year (don't know where the public gets them, but we got them in our office) which rates car worth, repair costs, and insurance costs for ALL types of cars. It either gets red for bad, yellow for ok, and green for good. VW's are one of the few cars that get greens all across. I have my book from 2002 and one from 2003. I am going to try and get the most recent one (usually comes out in summer some time) and see where it lies for this year.

Prin
June 28th, 2005, 10:11 PM
how do you do this? Before you buy the car? What if it's a private sale? Do you ask to get them to bring the car to a garage for the check? if it's a dealer can we get our own mechanic to assess it?. If it's a private seller, you either ask him if you can take it at a specific time to take it to your garage, or you ask him to meet you there.



I would love to see where you are seeing prices like this. The tercels are close but appear to be a little more in Ontario (at least a $1000 more). But the acura's are way off. a 1997 with 169K on it is $14900 on autotrader, and all the newer ones are a lot more. Maybe I should drive to quebec for a car??? heheh
Well... My man bought a 1999 tercel CE with 42 000 kms on it for $7000 in 2003... So I know it can be done. My friend just bought a 1999 civic EX (sedan) for $8000 with 120 000kms on it... If you scroll the newspaper on Saturdays, you also can get a feel for the prices. Maybe Quebec is cheaper? I know it's cheaper than BC because people in BC think our cars rust out in 4 minutes....

I already know all about black book values (doubt I would get anything for my antique anyway...nothing more than $500 if even that) and carfax and all that. I was an insurance adjuster before in the auto department, so I learned all about that.

In regards to accidents, the reason I should look for evidence of accidents is because the owner could have been in an accident and not reported it right? Because all reported accidents would be on a carfax anyway. The black book values I was talking about more as a means to know if you're getting ripped off or not with your "new" car.

We don't have "carfax" here in Quebec so it's almost impossible to know what has happened to a car even if it has been claimed. The only thing you can really find out is if it was stolen...


The reason we are leaning towards a VW is that they are one of the cheapest cars to insure across the board (all models/years). Insurance companies release this book each year (don't know where the public gets them, but we got them in our office) which rates car worth, repair costs, and insurance costs for ALL types of cars. It either gets red for bad, yellow for ok, and green for good. VW's are one of the few cars that get greens all across. I have my book from 2002 and one from 2003. I am going to try and get the most recent one (usually comes out in summer some time) and see where it lies for this year.
Maybe, but if it's not reliable, it's never going to be cheaper...

Joey.E.CockersMommy
June 28th, 2005, 10:24 PM
I would pick up a copy of the Lemonaid car guide. It gives stats and pros and cons of all the different used vehicles. We found it great when we were looking for our used mini Van.

happycats
June 29th, 2005, 07:34 AM
Maybe, but if it's not reliable, it's never going to be cheaper...

VW has been the most reliable car I have ever had!!
I have a 1990 Jetta thats still going strong, and has never given me an once of trouble, thats why we bought VW, again (2002 GTI) we just love them, have never had problems, and find VW service,great, fast, and friendly too.

Lizzie
June 29th, 2005, 08:33 AM
I think Ontario's prices are a little higher. We checked the QC prices when we were shopping around and found that they were always cheaper...some by a lot of dollars.

You can often find better deals in areas surrounding the larger cities....you may want to scout out areas around you...

angie79
June 29th, 2005, 09:00 AM
check online www.autotrader.ca and www.hebdo.ca they may be .com's

Melinda
June 29th, 2005, 09:21 AM
I've been driving my Toyota Previa for 9 yrs now, it's a 1991, bought used for 6,000. the only things besides oil, that have been changed on it has been the brakes and the windsheild wipers, *L* It runs like a top, it's driven by myself, and two teenagers, if it can withstand them.......it can withstand anything!! We do regular maintenance of course and hubby makes sure the rust stays away, in May, I took it to the car wash to be cleaned from top to bottom and the owner offered me 7,000. for it, it was the last year they made them in that style, sun roof, retractable moon roof, teeny fridge/freezer on the console *L* it's really sweet looking. My next vehicle will definitely be another toyota.

chico2
June 29th, 2005, 10:01 AM
We have a Jeep Grand Cherokee,LOVE it only has 80.000 km on it,1998 5,9L engine V8,deadly on gas,but used only in winter...however my"little"2000 Volvo is THE best buy we ever made,great on gas.
We will trade in both and get a Volvo SUV,the XC90....if I dare say that,since everyone is slamming SUV's,but it's probably because you've never driven one... :D Roll-overs is caused by incompetent drivers,not the car!
I would not be caught dead in a Smart Car,not only do they look ridiculous,but it would be like sitting in a tin-can..
Also not a day goes by that you do not read about a Honda Civic in an accident,loaded with young people...they have become the pariah of the high-way,granted not the cars fault,but I hate them...
If I was looking for a used car,I would without question be going for a Volvo..proven to be a safe reliable car and I agree :thumbs up (not because I am Swedish and Volvo is Swedish!! Yeah sure!!!)