What is the Real Reason for Used Cars?
In California, DMV states that any car with over 7500 miles on it is "used". Everyone knows that as soon as a new car is driven off the dealer lot, it loses its value, give it a few years, the owner's jaw drops in disbelief-the value is thousands of dollars less. No car is exempt. A $28000 car new in as little as 5-6 years and under 100,000 miles is worth only $15-16,000 even if in excellent condition.
So, the strategy for any buyer is to find out the real reason why a person is selling his car. This applies to any small-time car dealer. Usually the big dealers will have cars in good order/ Of course, the seller strategy is to sell the car at best price and not disclose the real reason for selling it.
Usually, the reason for a person to sell their car has something to do with the car, as in, something is wrong and they want to get rid of it before it is serious. Other reasons are not car related. A person may state they are selling their car because they need money, it has too many miles, they no longer need that type etc. While all that is true, maybe the underlining reason is something on the car is failing and they want to get rid of it before it gets too serious and costly. Maybe there is a puff of blue smoke when it starts, maybe the car shifts fine MOST of the time, maybe the electrical system is quirky and weird things happen, a sudden strange noise, or high mileage with a few indicators repairs are looming (tranny rattles, squeaky struts, bad unsteady idle, shifting issues etc.).
Yes, it could be the owner has too many cars and they are downsizing, someone died and their car must be sold, but usually it is something about the car. As a buyer, your job is to find out what the real reason is. Of course, if you are not a car person, you take it to a mechanic for a look over, test drive. You run a VIN # check through Carfax on the Internet, you ask for any maintenance records or receipts of repairs the seller has claimed were done, you estimate the cost of a repair if you find out the reason. Estimate the cost to you to make the car in better shape ( brakes, tires, alignment, tune-up, etc.,). Many owners have no records of repairs they did. If they state the repair was made, ask how many miles the car had at that time. The same applies to maintenance. For example, most cars need a new timing belt at 100K miles. If the car you are buying has not had it done and it has 90K miles, you will be spending another $1000 soon, if you buy it. If it was done at 90K, then you have another 80K miles of driving before you have to have it done. So, you also need to find out the scheduled maintenance of the car you want so you have a baseline knowledge. Example, if the car you want states change tranny oil every 40,000 miles, and the last record shows it was done at 120,000, but the car now has 180K miles, it is long overdue.
All this info helps you assess the condition of car and what you can anticipate in the way of expenses after you buy it.