DETROIT, M.I. – MI used cars shopping is easy. Deciding on your final vehicle is not. With so many different choices of vehicles it can be overwhelming, but our MI Used Cars Buying Guide will help you narrow down your options and evaluate your chosen vehicle to make sure it looks good, runs well and won't be a disappointment.
Once you get to the MI used cars dealership you have chosen, there are a few key details that must be looked at before signing the paperwork—even before completing the test drive—and they are included in a visual check of the vehicle.
1. Search the vehicle for any rust spots. Check around the lights and bumpers, under fenders and on all panels and doors. Make sure to check under carpeting such as the areas in the trunk. Any small rust spots anywhere on the car normally points to larger rust issues in the future.
2. Sometimes a car is repainted to cover any body problems, so check for places that the paint isn't a complete match. Also, check for gritty surfaces, misaligned body panels and paint overspray on chrome. All of these will point to a new paint job.
3. Look over the car for signs of possible past accidents such as cracks, heat-discolored areas, loose bumpers and even welded seams around windows and doors that indicate a car may have been partially rebuilt with salvaged parts.
4. If the vehicle is poorly cleaned and too dirty to complete this visual check properly, then request it's cleaned for a more thorough and accurate inspection.
5. Check for uneven wear on all of the tires. Front tire wear may indicate bad alignment or front suspension damage.
6. If the vehicle is an older model and comes with radial tires, uneven wear may indicate improper tire rotation.
7. Make sure to check the spare tire, its condition and check that the jack is the correct one for the vehicle and is working properly.
8. A battery normally needs to be replaced every 25,000 miles, so check the sticker on the battery for the guarantee date to see if the battery will need replacing soon.
Doors, Windows and Trunk Lid
9. All of these vehicle parts should open easily, close snugly and be secure. If the doors or trunk fit unevenly, this may be a strong sign there may have been a collision.
Window, Glass and Lights
10. All windows, glass, and front and rear lights should not have any hairline cracks, tiny holes or any other mark that shows a weakness point. Any of these problems can cause bigger issues in the future such as needing to replace whole windows.
11. Check that the tailpipe is secured to the vehicle and not moving around. Also, check in the tailpipe for black, thickened soot. This may mean the rings are worn or there may be bad valves. Both could point to expensive repairs later on.
12. The shock absorbers may be tested during the test drive as well, but it is good to check before getting in the car. Simply push down on the corner of the vehicle and note if the car rocks up and down. The shocks could need replacing if the vehicle bounces.
13. Check that the oil does not have any whitish coloring or white bubbles. This could mean water was added somehow to the oil and could have already caused major mechanical problems.
14. Check the radiator fluid to ensure it does not look rusty.
15. Check for leaks and stains under the car, on the underside of the engine and around hoses and valve covers.
16. The final check should be done with the engine idling. Check that the transmission fluid does not smell rotten or look dark brown.
17. Test all mechanical parts such as the headlights, taillights, brake lights, backup lights, signals, radio, heater, air conditioner and windshield wipers. They should all be in working order.
18. Check all the upholstery for major wear and tear around the seats—front and rear—under the floor mats, around seat covers and any other fabrics.
19. Make sure all seats adjust as they are supposed to and ensure every seat belt works properly.
20. If there are airbags, check the locations and that there is no airbag warning light on.
21. The steering wheel should have no more than two inches of play when turned in the unlocked position.
If there seems to be a lot of wear and tear in the interior, but the odometer has a low number of miles, consider that the odometer could have been tampered with.
Now that you've checked out the car and are satisfied with the physical appearance, it is time to test out the vehicle. All MI used cars should be test-driven before making a purchase.
Road Test Checklist
22. The vehicle should easily turn on with no problems or odd noises.
23. As the car is driven, all parts should be listened to: engine, transmission, brakes, etc. It is important to listen for any noises that do not seem right as they can be a warning about mechanical issues.
24. Make sure to drive on different roads to check the acceleration and deceleration.
25. Feel for odd vibrations or other odd movements.
26. The vehicle should accelerate without any hesitation.
27. The brake pedal should feel firm when pressed and not spongy or soft.
28. When braking, there should be no grabbing, vibrating or pulling the vehicle to one side.
29. Check the exhaust for any discoloration.
30. There should not be too much sway or stiffness in the vehicle when turning. Turn the vehicle at various speeds to test the vehicle's steering.
31. The power steering should feel smooth with no pull or high-pitched sounds.
32. Look for signs of odometer being tampered with. Often there will be white lines between the numbers that do not line up or a vibration of the 1/10 mile numbers while the car is moving.
Frame and alignment
33. Feel the car during the test drive and check the alignment. If the frame or alignment feels out of the norm, have it checked out.
Independent, thorough Inspection
34. Always have a mechanic inspect the vehicle. Bring the car to a reliable repair shop that is trusted.
35. Any problems should have an estimate written up by the mechanic.
Instead of wondering about what could be happening with MI used cars once they are brought home, this checklist will help shoppers find out the details before they are locked into an agreement.
Time to Buy
Once you've completed this checklist and are satisfied with the inspection, it is time to purchase the vehicle.
As stated before, keep in mind the terms and conditions of the loan and what the associate said before sitting down to finalize the documents. You should always remember: If the deal is not what you want, there is no obligation.
Walk away at any time with no penalty. Purchasing a car should be about giving you a solution to your needs as a driver and serving your lifestyle. It is not about what the dealership wants.
MI Auto Times wishes all car shoppers luck and hopes that this multipart series was useful for finding a vehicle they can use for years to come. Feel free to email us with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the full MI Used Car Buying Guide, visit http://www.mi-used-cars-miautotimes.com
While reading our six-part series, click on the Facebook "Like" button at the top of the page and be automatically entered to win one of 10 iPod Shuffles.
MI Auto Times offers shoppers all the latest automotive news and tools to help them find MI used cars consumers can browse. Our car classifieds section, where they can find their dream vehicle, or our dealer ratings page, to see how dealers in their local area are rated by other shoppers.
MI Auto Times has many resources to help you with your new or used car search.
Read up on automotive industry news at our home page: www.MIAutoTimes.com
Browse vehicles in our Classifieds section - www.mi-used-cars.miautotimes.com
Rate and review local dealers – www.miautotimes.com/mi-dealer-ratings
DETROIT, M.I. – MI used cars can be bought outright, but oftentimes shoppers want to trade-in their vehicles when they buy their next used vehicle.
There are three main steps you can follow to help boost your vehicle's trade-in value.
Before you visit an MI used cars dealership, always do research into the value of the vehicle you want to trade-in.
It's important to know that no matter what value websites give you as the value of your car, what you'll get is only what others will pay for it. Trade-in value websites also only give you a dollar amount but do not get you in touch with any buyer or dealership. At MI Auto Times, we bring you straight to the dealers and have two ways to help you get an estimated value on your trade.
DETROIT, M.I. – MI used cars can be found at multiple dealerships, but not all dealerships are the same. There are so many choices and it may seem difficult to decide on the final dealer, so MI Auto Times wants to help you narrow down the list.
What are the most important factors when choosing a dealership? Is it the location, the associates or the deals? Everything is important when deciding on a dealership.
There are different websites that are dedicated to offering ratings for businesses such as MI used cars dealerships. Search engines such as Google are a good place to start, but where do you go to get a more localized ratings system?
At MI Auto Times, we offer shoppers looking for MI used cars the ability to check reviews and star ratings for various dealerships in the Michigan area.
We make it easy for you to search through our dealer ratings. Begin your browsing by choosing which vehicle make you are interested in. After choosing which make, we will show a comprehensive list of the local dealers in the Michigan area.
The reviews available on MI Auto Times include customers who not only may rate a dealer by adding a star rating one through five, but they may also leave detailed reviews about the dealership they have visited. Shoppers can browse and read real customers' experiences at dealerships. This option enables you to get a realistic feel of a dealership in your area before visiting as well as a good look into the dealership and how they treat their customers.
First thing to keep in mind: don't judge a dealership by its cover. Some dealerships may look big and flashy with shiny interiors, salons or cafés, but there is a cost to keep up this look. Oftentimes this cost is passed on to the consumer.
If a dealership carries new model vehicles, there may be other items that are added to the dealership's monthly overhead such as inventory costs, depreciation on the vehicles waiting on the lot to be sold and other maintenance costs. These extra costs are then worked into the prices of the vehicles that are sold on the dealership lot.
On the other hand, bigger dealerships can also offer lower pricing too because of their purchasing power. Also, their inventories can be much bigger and offer a bigger variety to their customers and with this variety can come a lower price. Having a larger buying power means being able to lower prices on new vehicles. It is possible for you to purchase a new vehicle at a price close to that of a used vehicle because of the ability for the dealership to offer discounts on their inventory.
Other options include looking for an independent and reputable MI used cars dealership. Being smaller and already established means shoppers are only paying for their used vehicle and not the electric bill However, the selection may be limited at these independent dealerships as well as other conveniences offered like repair and maintenance services.
Get all this information in writing. Even if it is only a quote, it will ensure you have something to bring back to the dealership when you decide to purchase the vehicle. It's possible that prices and deals will fluctuate, but it cannot hurt to have records of past promotions even if only for negotiation purposes.
If customers find a particular dealership online with a specific promotion or price listed on its website, once they visit the dealership the prices or promotions should be the same, barring any expiration dates.
There should always be consistent prices and options from the dealership's website to the dealership's lot.
Sometimes you only have your intuition and the trust you build with an associate from the moment you first speak or meet at a dealership. The rapport can make or break a deal. If an associate is too pushy or is working to get you into a vehicle you are not looking for, then you should consider another dealership where you may be more comfortable.
There should be no pressure from a dealership associate, only complete and accurate information to questions that you have about a used car you are looking at. As discussed in Part Three, if dealerships will not offer you a vehicle history report, then this is not a dealership that is willing to be truthful and should be avoided.
Other words of advice from the Buyers Guide include getting all promises in writing, keeping the guide for reference after the sale and always asking an independent mechanic to inspect the car before purchase.
If there is no Buyers Guide on the vehicle a customer is looking at, and the dealership will not provide one when asked, it's time to walk away.
Some other sources for customers to search through when looking for a used car include superstores, car rental agencies, bank and loan companies and private owners. MI Auto Times wants all consumers to know their options, but we still advise that it's better to go through a dealership.
Be sure to check out Part 5 of our MI Used Cars Buying Guide: Get the Greatest Value for Your Car at Trade-In. While reading our six-part series, click on the Facebook "Like" button at the top of the page and be automatically entered to win one of 10 iPod Shuffles.
MI used cars can be purchased from a new or used dealership or from that guy in the shopping plaza parking lot.
Some will say, "It's my money, my choice," but by choosing a private seller MI used cars buyers are taking some risks that may not be present at dealerships. One of the most significant risks is private sellers often don't have to follow the same regulations and laws that a dealership has to follow.
There is a smaller chance of getting a lemon when you know the vehicle history and that your used vehicle is backed by a warranty, not just a verbal assurance it's in "mint" condition.
The benefits of shopping at a new or used car dealership over a private seller may include:
As stated above, private sellers may not be able to offer history reports on the vehicle they are selling. More often than not, all a buyer has to go on from a private seller is his or her word. Some private sellers may allow a buyer to take the vehicle to a mechanic, but that's one more hassle on the car buyer.
Dealerships, on the other hand, are often required by state law to inspect a vehicle before they sell it to a customer. Dealerships also have access to a long list of trusted vehicle history report companies that they use, so you can get a thorough and accurate history of the vehicle you want to buy.
A private seller may not disclose everything that's wrong with a vehicle, and you may not find out until days later at a great cost to you.
It's rare for a private seller to include a warranty with the vehicle he or she is selling to you. A dealership will often honor whatever remaining warranty is included with the vehicle; however, not all factory warranties are guaranteed to be transferred to used car buyers at the time of purchase, so be sure to ask the dealership to see the warranty document.
Another advantage of buying from a dealership over a private seller is some MI used cars sold at dealerships come with extended warranty options and service contracts. These warranties are available for an extended period of time and cover certain parts and services for the vehicle.
Any warranty information should always be in writing and never stated verbally. What is covered should be clearly written so there is no confusion. Always read the fine print.
When shopping for MI used cars online, the photos are often the best selling points for the car, but be aware things are not always as they appear. It is possible the vehicle has more issues and damage than is being presented in pictures and videos.
When looking at each vehicle, ask yourself:
No one likes to be led on to believe what they're buying is not what they'll be getting, but how can you tell if the car in the photo is not the vehicle being sold?
If it's a dealership, click on other used car videos and pictures to see if they all have the same features listed.
If it's a private seller and the car looks like it's been photographed by professionals by the ocean and you're seller is in Kansas, something may be off. Also watch out for an all-white background in private seller ads as this is likely an image pulled off of a dealership website.
Some MI used cars have been recalled in the past, but if a private owner is not notified or is solely focused on selling the vehicle, the vehicle may not be brought in for any needed inspections or repairs.
The benefit of buying a used car from a dealership is if a vehicle on a dealership lot is up for a recall, the dealership will take care of the problem.
The likelihood of encountering a dangerous situation in a public place of business may be a lot less likely to occur than if you were meeting with a complete stranger at his or her home. There are some exceptions that have happened over the course of history, but a dealership is less likely to rob you and lock you in the backseat of the vehicle you're trying to buy.
If you do choose to go to a private seller, please:
But it's not just your safety that's at risk with a private seller, it's your security too. By that we mean when you buy from a dealership, the dealer is often held to federal and state laws and regulations that private sellers are not.
Depending on what state you live in, a dealership must:
Finally, when you go check out a car from a private seller, you have only one choice: the car in front of you. If you visit a dealership instead, you can still see the car you're interested in as well as other options available. Many times a dealership is running promotions allowing you to get a big discount on a brand new vehicle for the price you may pay on a used vehicle. Keep your options open and keep them plentiful.
In the end, you should always do a detailed and complete search for information on any vehicle you purchase, used or new. Follow these tips and the only lemon you bring home will be in a grocery bag and not in your driveway.
Be sure to check out Part 4 of our MI Used Cars Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Car Dealership While reading our six-part series, click on the Facebook "Like" button at the top of the page and be automatically entered to win one of 10 iPod Shuffles.