Reader Question: Car Buying Services?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Matthew asks: I’m interested in your take on car buying services.

Here’s my situation: I’m looking to buy a used car for myself. No trade-in. Paying cash.  Traditionally drive Hondas. Looking to reward myself with a bit of a luxury car. Can afford fancier nameplates, but after considering options, I don’t see anything material they are offering that I can’t get in an upgraded Accord, other than the fancier nameplate – and higher cost of ownership.

So I’ve honed in on 2016 and 2017 Accord Touring models. 2017 was the last year before Honda switched over to the turbo-charged lawn mower engines even in the high-end Accords (not to mention all of the so-called safety nonsense) and 2016 is the first year available with CarPlay and built-in Garmin navigation (I know . . . tech bloat; but this is tech I actually would like).

I’m also interested in getting as low mileage as I realistically can, say ~30k.  I’ve been watching the websites for a couple of months, and there are some that come available, but they don’t last for long if they have clean histories. This leaves me feeling like I have limited negotiating power, and it seems like a no-brainer that the buying service would pay for itself in savings, let alone hassle. What am I missing here?

My reply: In the first place, you’re absolutely right about the overlap – about their being few meaningful differences between say a loaded Accord and an otherwise similar Acura. Other than the price of the badge.

In the second, I think you’re wise to snap up one of the models made before the Event Horizon of excess tech/lawnmower engines and creepy tech. The Accord you’re shopping for ought to suit.

With regard to buying services: There’s nothing to be lost by using them to look for a car, but be aware that they will charge full retail fore the car – which isn’t illegitimate, as they will generally clean/prep the car and even perform repairs needed to make it road-ready. They will also usually handle the paperwork and even deliver the car to your door. I’ve dealt personally with Carvana and found them to be ok.

However, I would not limit your search to what a buying service can find. I would also email every Honda/Acura store within your comfortable driving range and tell them what you’re looking for and that you’re a serious buyer, if they have what you are looking for.

Then I’d start my day by cruising through Craigslist ads, including private party ads – and be ready to pounce when a candidate appeared. Meaning: Have cash at the ready and be prepared to drop everything to go see and possibly buy the car before it gets bought by someone else.

A private party sale is more hassle, obviously. But it is not necessarily riskier (dealers and buying services can be cheesy, too – and even if not, you will pay for their services) and you could end up much happier – via a great deal you might not have gotten via a buying a service.

. . . 

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.  If that fails, email me at and I will send you a copy directly!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here