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3. Finding the vehicle

It is always difficult to say where you might locate the perfect car or if it even exists. There are numerous points to take into consideration when starting the shopping around process.

Private seller or dealer?
As you will see later on, you will be faced with choosing between a private seller and a dealer. This consideration will have to figure in your budget as there may be additional taxes and fees involved when dealing with a professional.

Reputation
Reputation is an important factor when digging through potential sources for buying a car. If a family member or neighbour purchased a car at Dealer "X" and has had nothing but trouble with the car and servicing, odds are you should look elsewhere.
Good dealer, good car?

Keep in mind that it is always possible to find the best car at the worst place or the worst car at the best. It is a well-known fact that dealers are not always 100% aware of what it is they have on their lots. Because of this, it's important to take the time to do all of the necessary legwork and homework.

Tips:
- Patience is key. A used car, even if the amount spent is no more than $5,000, will most likely be among the most expensive items you own. Take your time.
- If your current car is in bad shape, do not wait until the very last minute to start shopping. When it dies, you'll be forced to make a rushed purchase and they can quickly turn into huge headaches. Sometimes it seems easier to settle but often, you'll only find out after the fact that your hasty purchase was not the right one.

 

 

WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY AND WHERE

Before looking through classifieds to find the car, there is an important matter that needs to be considered. Used cars are offered, in the vast majority of cases, from two sources: private seller or a dealer. The differences are substantial and should be studied before taking the next step.

The professional dealer?

Spending some time mulling over the pros and cons is important. The principal point to keep in mind is that working with a professional will be costlier, much like in any other type of business.
The budget will therefore have to reflect this fact. Actually, the decision to purchase a car through a dealership may limit the hard-earned dollar's reach.

Used car dealerships typically suffer from a very poor reputation. Used car sales-people are regularly rated as the least trusted type of professionals but this only means that the buyer needs to be mindful and vigilant. Also, they're not all bad. Word-of-mouth recommendations can help steer you in a better direction.

Do dealers always sell "better" cars?

No. The fact is that the best car for sale for you may just as likely be in the hands of a private seller. The onus is on the buyer to make the right decision, do their homework and not cut corners.

Dealerships are often time not 100% aware of what it is they have on their lots, either by choice or by disinterest or lack of time based on volume. Private sellers may be just as inclined to omit important details on the car they are looking to off-load, however, as previous owners, are in a better position to answer related questions.

This is why patience is of the utmost importance. Nothing is worse than saying "I should have taken my time" after the fact...

Scenario

The Johnson's current family vehicle is not quite on its last leg but their regular maintenance shop has warned them that a number of important components will be in need of some degree of attention in the near future. The bottom line is that the total cost of the repairs may equal or surpass the value of the vehicle.

This news is the beacon for the family to seriously look into their financial affairs and determine what it is they want and need. They now have a timeframe in which to carefully shop and if they play their cards right, the whole ordeal may turn out to be pleasant.

Car discussions and story exchanges with friends and family are useful and full of insight. The search now begins for the Johnsons' new wheels. With time on their side, they are confident that they will be able to find the perfect family vehicle with little or no stress. They do not want to rush into a hasty transaction as it is a surefire way to get screwed and/or be taken advantage of. Patience!