Car Buying Tips

How to Negotiate the Price of a Used Car

Let’s say you’ve been shopping for a great used car. You’ve found a nice example of the model you want. You’ve checked out the car in person, and you really like it. All that’s left is to hand over the money and drive away — right?

Not so fast. Used car prices are almost always negotiable. With rare exceptions (such as buying from a “haggle-free” dealership), the price you see on the vehicle listing should *not* be the price you actually pay for it. In fact, most used car sellers pad their asking prices by at least a few hundred dollars in anticipation of this.

But how do you get from the asking price to the price that you actually should pay? That’s where the art of negotiation comes in.

How to Buy a Used Car at a Government Auction

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a part of the United States federal government you’ve likely never heard of unless you work in it, total spending by all governments in the United States totaled $7.3 trillion in 2019. That’s 34-percent of the country’s gross domestic product (everything we did that made money). Keep in mind this is for 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has blown government spending upwards like a rocket burning a refined distillate of debt.

And what did the local, state, and federal governments throw all that cash at? Well, a lot of things, like ballpoint pens, aircraft carriers, homeless shelters, governor’s mansions, and lots and lots of vehicles. So many vehicles in fact that they’ve always got a bunch to unload.

How to Read a Vehicle History Report from CARFAX or Autocheck

Every car buying expert will tell you the same thing. Don’t buy a used car without reading its vehicle history report thoroughly and carefully.

It’s good advice. Unless the used car in question has always belonged to your uncle Harry, a vehicle history report is the only way for you to learn about the life it has led.

Buying a Used Hybrid? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

It would have been rare a few years ago for hybrids to show up on most used-car shopping lists. There weren’t that many in the market, and there wasn’t much choice. Toyota’s hybrids dominated, with gas-electric models from Honda and Ford in distant second and third place. But stuff happens. Things change.

Today there’s a wide selection of used hybrids available, from almost every manufacturer. Because of their often-stellar fuel efficiency, plus the high-end trim and standard equipment levels among many of the more recent models, they are cars – and crossovers, SUVs, and trucks – that most every used-car shopper should consider.

Because the hybrid marketplace has changed so rapidly over the last ten years, with both hits and misses along the way, it’s important to do your homework before you start browsing the for-sale listings. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive used hybrid buying guide. It’s everything you need to know to make a smart used hybrid purchase.

How to Evaluate a Used Car from Its VIN and Records

It used to be that used cars were purchased solely as acts of faith. Tires were kicked, leaks were hunted down, and the wad of receipts in the glove compartment might prove someone once cared about the machine. For a while.

In the 21st Century, virtually every used car is dragging a computerized trail of documentation. And that data has been commoditized in the form of informational websites like Carfax.com or Vincheck.me or whatever went live online in the last few moments. Some sites charge for the information. Some give it away. The relative worth of information you pay for versus that you get for free is something you can only discover with experience. Keep in mind, however, that spending a few bucks on researching a purchase that’s hundreds or thousands of times greater than that expense is likely worthwhile.

Buying a Used Electric Car? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Shoppers often miss great bargains when they overlook the occasional used electric vehicle that pops up during their searches.

Electric cars — whether battery-electric EVs with no gas engine at all, or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that combine electric drive and internal combustion engines — are still a mystery to most Americans.

Even in California, which has been pushing them as a matter of state policy for nearly a decade now, fewer than half the respondents in survey after survey acknowledge knowing much about these cars.

Top of the “things-to-know” list is that, unless something’s gone horribly wrong with the battery (and that’s quite rare), a used plug-in electric vehicle, or PEV, can represent one of the best used car deals in the market today.

That’s because PEVs are usually loaded with features that can be pricey options on cars with conventional gas or diesel powertrains. They typically also have far fewer miles on their odometers, and they deliver significant savings in both fuel and maintenance costs compared to cars with internal combustion engines.

And in most cases, depreciation rates for PEVs are higher than for their conventionally-powered counterparts, which means that their prices, tempered by consumer wariness of the still-unfamiliar technology, are relative bargains.

Buying Your First Million Dollar Used Car

Things have gone well. The IPO sold out 20 minutes after the market opened, smart accountants have sheltered your accumulated wealth in several creative ways, your health is good, the house is paid for and the pool cleaning guy comes every single day because, dang it, you like a clean pool.

Now’s the time to dip a bucket into your river of revenue and buy your first million-dollar car. Or two-million or three-million or, hey why not, go deep into eight figures for that perfectly extravagant used car.

Don’t Buy a Used Car Without Doing These 4 Things

You’ve done your research, and you’ve identified the make and model of the used car you wish to purchase. But you didn’t stop there, you busy beaver. You’ve also taken a look at local inventory, and you’ve found a few vehicles in your area that are qualified candidates. There’s even one in the exact color you want.

At this point, your excitement level is probably high. There’s a rush of adrenaline that comes with knowing you’re this close to finding a car that seems like a perfect match for your needs. But don’t let those happy feelings lead to a rash decision. There are still a few final steps to take before you pull the trigger.

Here are four things you should do at this stage in your quest for a stellar used vehicle.

Before You Buy a Used Car, Find a Good Mechanic

Buying a used car is not only the best way to get the most car for your money; it also helps you dodge a massive hit from depreciation. However, no matter how well you do your research or how great an example you find, a used car is a complex machine with pieces that, after five or ten (or more) years on the road, are sometimes going to break.

That’s why you should make identifying a great local mechanic the very first step in your used car buying process.

How to Buy a Car the Klipnik Way and Save Thousands

Cars are expensive. In fact, the cost of the average new car topped $40,000 for the first time last year, according to CNET. Meanwhile, the average used car price — which recently spiked to $21,500, according to The Car Connection — still isn’t exactly cheap. And that’s just the price of admission. On top of that, you’ve also got fuel costs, insurance and repair bills, maintenance, and more. Add it all up, and it can knock a huge hole in your budget.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Klipnik, we’ve identified an approach you can use to reduce your car expenses by half or more. These aren’t strict austerity measures, like choosing to walk instead of drive. And we’re not talking about buying a clapped-out old Corolla. Indeed, you can apply our approach just as easily to buying high-end luxury cars as you can to cheap econoboxes.

Buying a Car Out of State: When It Makes Sense and How to Do It

Even with today’s powerful online car shopping resources, which can bring up listings from Anchorage to Atlanta with the tap of a finger, most new and used car purchases are still made within ten miles from home.

But traveling further in pursuit of the perfect car or the best deal is becoming increasingly common.

According to Automotive News, a leading industry trade publication, “The average distance that a buyer travels has risen steadily since the Internet became an important tool for many shoppers.” And the phenomenon is causing a growing number of people to cross state lines to find the right car, truck, or SUV — especially rare and hard-to-find models.

However, there are many things to know before buying a car, new or used, out of state. Here we’ll cover the pros and cons of such a transaction and help you avoid making some common mistakes.

How to Finance an Older Used Car

We’re no doubt preaching to the choir here, but there are lots of great reasons for buying an older car. If you’re nostalgic for the style of a past era, these vehicles will satisfy your thirst for vintage design. For example, there’s no denying the elegance of a classic Jaguar.

In some cases, older cars offer performance benefits that are hard to duplicate in newer models. Case in point: With its high-revving, naturally-aspirated V8 and sonorous engine note, the E39 generation BMW M5 delivers a driving experience that’s one of a kind.

Finally, buying an older car may allow you to take a big step up when it comes to your choice of vehicle. Thanks to depreciation, older cars are just a fraction of the cost of their new counterparts. Hardly anyone can afford a brand new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster, but one that’s 10 or 15 years old can be had for used Camry money.

While we do advise paying cash for a used car rather than financing it, we recognize that not everyone is in a position to do that. So if you are going to make your purchase with the help of an auto loan, it’s important to know that there are significant differences between financing a new vehicle and an older car.

Because financing an older car comes with a unique set of challenges, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process from start to finish.

The Best Used Car Websites

A couple of decades ago, the search for a used vehicle began with hours spent squinting through the classifieds. You’d then head out to get a closer look at each candidate, and this could involve fending off aggressive salespeople at local used car dealerships or mumbling through awkward interactions with private party sellers. Then along came the Internet, an innovation that allowed us to search for used cars online.

In many ways, the Internet has simplified the process of shopping for a used car. But it can also make this task more overwhelming. There’s an almost endless selection of websites offering to help you select your next pre-owned vehicle, and you may find yourself drowning in a sea of information and choices. These sites aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and knowing which ones you can rely on can be tricky.

That’s where we come in. Here at Klipnik, we live and breathe used cars, and we’ve explored pretty much every used car resource available. Below (in alphabetical order), we’ve listed the sites that we find ourselves returning to over and over again and which have earned our stamp of approval. They provide all of the assistance you could ever need to find and buy the used car of your dreams.

Skip the Dealership — Buy Your Next Car from a Private Seller

Let’s face it: most car shoppers dread the dealership experience. A recent Autotrader study found that fully 99% of shoppers want to see major changes in the dealership sales process. Of course, not all car dealers are bad; some take customer satisfaction quite seriously, earning high marks and repeat business. Nevertheless, dissatisfaction and distrust have long been predominant themes.

In response, third-parties like TrueCar and Edmunds have taken root, aiming to improve the experience by offering consumers insider advice and information as well as member perks like guaranteed discounts. More recently, startups like Carvana and Vroom have entered the scene with visions of reinventing the entire dealership sales process. These changes are admirable and welcome.

However, one thing that seems to have been overlooked is the fact that, to buy a car, you don’t actually need a dealership at all. Since basically the invention of the automobile, there has been a simple and cost-effective way to obtain a car without ever setting foot on the showroom floor:

Buy a used car directly from its private owner.