The World Wide Web
The most common, comfortable and effortless avenue to start your search is by going online. There are countless websites, such as our own auto123.com, where thousands upon thousands of ads are available at your fingertips.
While you browse through this large inventory of cars, as you narrow your search to one or two models, you will get an idea of what the average selling price may be for the type of vehicle that interests you most.
Ads in newspapers and specialized magazines, published on a daily or weekly basis, are other options.
By far the greatest advantage to shopping online is the ability to compare models side by side, read reviews by owners and professionals. All you need to do is look up specs from the cars you like and compare them side-by-side.
Once a car has caught your eye, the time has come to make phone calls. Be well aware of the shady phenomenon known as the curbsider or fake private seller.
- If the average price through five ads of a model of car you want is of $10,000 and one is listed at $6,000 in similar condition, odds are that it has issues. "To cheap to be good" are words to live by when shopping for used cars.
- Get the "book" value of the vehicle. You can contact the Automobile Protection Association (APA) and for a small fee, they can give you the pricing information. While you're at it, get a book value on your trade-in if it's still listed.
- When you are calling an individual, simply ask about the car for sale. Should the person reply "Which one?" chances are you're dealing with an unlicensed curbsider. Noticing the same phone number in a few ads is another clue.
THE SEARCH BEGINS
Sifting through classified ads in newspapers, specialized magazines or online is the most obvious way to find out what's out there.
Nothing beats the internet
Without a doubt, cruising the internet is the best method to navigate through thousands of ads. By using built-in search functions, in less time than it takes for you to read this paragraph, you'll be faced with numerous ads on the exact year, make and model you are looking for.
While surfing, be aware of the phenomenon known as the curbsider or fake private seller. These individuals pose as regular folks selling their personal car but generally work for dealers. Their goal is to sell vehicles that may otherwise have issues that make them undesirable to professional outfits such as being rebuilt and salvaged or out-of-province write-offs.
The more traditional print media are fine however cannot compete with the web. In any given paper or magazine, you may find 1 or 2 ads featuring the vehicle that interest you but they will most likely vary in model-year, mileage and therefore price.
Pricing and value
This exercise will further educate you on the average asking price, condition, equipment and mileage of the vehicle you are seeking. Be critical of vehicles that are listed for far less than the average asking price. This typically indicates that the vehicle has important issues that may affect its ability perform as you would expect it too. A price that is "too good to be true" is, as a rule, exactly that.
The Johnsons, comfortably setup up in front of their computer, punch in "Audi", "Q7", and enter "2007-2008" as the year range and finally, put $25,000 to $35,000 as the price range. Instantly, more than a dozen Q7s are located within a specified distance of their home.
It becomes immediately clear that they will have to explore the higher reaches of their budget to cover the asking price, taxes and numerous other fees.
While online, they punch in the make, model and year of their car to get an idea of what it might be worth. Unfortunately, very few 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan are listed and the indicated prices barely cross the $1,000 mark. Given the state of their car, they opt to not include the minivan in the purchase equation. Instead, they consider donating it to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
In order to get more information and to confirm the values they've found, they contact the APA to get a book value in exchange for a small fee. A specific 2007 Q7 3.6 Premium, with an indicated 100,000 km and all the bells and whistles, turns out to have a listed book value very close to the asking prices found in the online ads.
As they are fairly certain that the Audi Q7 is the vehicle of choice, the Johnsons contact their insurance provider to get a quote. Following the call, they contact the seller of the aforementioned Q7 and ask about the vehicle being offered for sale.