Buying a New Car

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I saw your article about buying a new car.
How do I buy a used car?  craigslist? ebay motors? dealer? auction?
VW Jetta in Washington DC or RIchmond VA area.
Thank you
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  1. I think, maybe estate sales are good places to check, too?
    Sometimes they put up a jar where people place bids on paper into the jar. Highest bid wins. I imagine that most of the time it’s not a ‘reserve sale’ where they reject all bids if it’s not high enough, they just want to offload and accept the best bid. It’s double-plus good if it’s just a car that’s been driven around the block to the grocery store once a week and nothing else.

    The Boomer generation is retiring, and downsizing, I imagine there will be a cascade of good deals coming down the pike. After all, for many of them, their Plan A for retirement is to sell. Catch one that’s a bit desperate and short of cash, you’ll make their day, get a good deal, and everybody is happy?

    …Well, until the gooberment outlaws all older cars. But that’s another blog entry.

  2. Hi Win,

    Any of the options you mentioned is viable – and I would recommend expanding your search as far and wide as you have time/patience for. Unlike new cars – which are all exactly the same (assuming you’re looking at a given make/model with the same equipment, etc.) and thus, you can focus on price, each used car will be a specific individual in terms of its mileage, condition, how it was maintained – and so on. You’ll be looking for the lowest miles/best condition – at a fair price.

    As with a new car, you’ll want to research the car (make/model, etc.) you’re interested in before you actually start shopping, so that you’ll know enough about it to be aware of potential problems, equipment that you might want – and want to avoid (e.g., with some vehicles, the standard engine may be outstanding but the optional one might be known to have reliability issues).

    I’d also strongly recommend having any vehicle you’re seriously interested in closely inspected by a competent third party (one not in any way connected to the seller) mechanic as a condition of sale.

    If the seller balks at this, it is probably time to move on….


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