How to B.S. the car salesman......
Okay, I'm a woman in the market for a used car and I AM doing my research. However, I've been taken advantage of before by salesmen and mechanics because it seems obvious I am ignorant when it comes to the engine. I'd like to show up on a lot and confidently say, "Okay, Sir, Let's pop the hood" - I want to know what to look for, what questions to ask, or at least BS my way through it enough to get the "You ain't foolin' me" message across loud and clear. Unfortunately I don't have an anyone to accompany me. Do you have any suggestions?
Kelly, in your research, check Consumer Reports for the year, make and model you're looking at and they will tell you what (if any) problems the vehicle had. Then ask the sales person to see the Car Fax and the dealership's in house inspection report. If the dealer in unwilling to provide those details, don't buy, move on.
My other piece of advice is you can ask the dealer if you can take it to YOUR mechanic before purchasing. Any respectable dealer should allow for that. You don't even have to take it the mechanic, just see if the dealer's willing to let you do that.
Now, if you do take it to a mechanic, make sure to take it to a well reviewed mechanic on line. Angie's LIst.com or YELP. Then make sure you take what the mechanic says with a grain of salt because you just hired him to find problems. I've seen mechanics over exaggerate and even lie about the condition of a used car just to appear authentic and trust worthy. I sold cars for 10 years and worked for a reputable dealer group. We always let a client take a used car to their mechanic and some of those guys were shadier than some of the shadiest cars salesmen I've ever met, but the client treated this guy like he was Mario Andretti's pit boss or something. Weird...
Finally, make sure the car has a warranty from the dealer (Don't by a car, AS IS) and seriously consider purchasing additional warranty for at least the life of the loan. This way you can enjoy the car with peace of mind knowing if something does go wrong, you're covered.
Hope that helps and good luck! Feel free to contact me additional questions of concerns...
Most used cars that are offered by reputable dealers - OR by the rental companies, with cars being taken out of their fleets - should be expected to be in good, operable and "near new" condition. YOU can't look at the motor and ascertain, visually, if there is something wrong with it. However, if you start and operate it, you may expect it to NOT have any odd noises or vibrations....
ONCE you've determined that you've found a car that strikes your fancy, I suggest that you have a card with THREE figures on it... and share that card with the salesman. The three numbers on the card should be: 1. The amount ($) that you intend to offer as a down-payment, 2. The MONTHLY payment that you wish to make, and, 3. The NUMBER OF MONTHS that you wish to make that payment.... Those three items determine all you need to "know" about the "price" of the car. Give no concern to the "price of" the car.... OR, the RATE of the interest on your loan (assuming you are taking one)....
Make your salesperson focus ONLY on those details...and, if he/she starts to dance around those facts, then WALK!!!
Incidentally, the best car I ever bought, I got from Enterprise... a Dodge Neon that was 2 years old and had 32,000 miles on it when I bought it. I had it for 8 years.... and it had 162,000 miles on it when some a-hole ran in to me and totalled it!!!!
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