Used Cars/help buying used car…HOW TO BUY A CAR THE SMART WAY…( A series)

Expert: – 5/3/2010

I have provided links to other questions I hav answered on this topic …those appear at the bottom


I’m a college student about to graduate.
I have a small budget and am looking to buy a used car. it’ll be my very first one. I know I can’t get anything amazing, but at least an automatic.
my budget is maximum at $4000.
I have no idea how to go about looking for a car as I have never needed one.
Where do I go? what do I look for? what can I get in that price range?
Help .. ūüôā



Oh my… How would you like me to answer this question for you. Buying a car the smart way is a process with several steps to it. I could literally write a book on this topic. I think it’s best if we do this one step at a time and I would be glad to hold your hand and help you out all through the process. It will require¬†some back and forth between us so here is my direct email address; roadloans@gmail.com. So as not to overwhelm you with the minutae of the process lets start with the basics so I can find out where you are at and what you are wanting to do:
1) Have you picked out any make or model of car that you are m,ost interested in getting?
2) Are you wanting to finance part or all of this purchase? if so do you have any money saved back for a down payment? Will you be employed right away after graduation or…?? where would the revenue come from to service the loanpayments?
3) what state and city are you in?
4) What is your time frame to get this done from start to finish?
It’s not a long process once you decide what kind of car you are wanting to buy. Once we figure that part out if you haven’t already then i will take your budget and run some book sheets and tell you what yr etc. of car we should start looking for and the relative values we should be able to get for your budgeted amount. For starters, if you have something in mind Rule #1 is you never go to the dealership to do any buying … trips to the dealer or private party with the car you might want is for one reason only…to test drive the car and make sure it’s the right one (more on what makes it the right one later) You never “sit down and work numbers” with anyone for any reason…ok?

If you don’t know what you want then start with …Import or Domestic? 4 dr or 2 dr? Do you need something with 4×4 abilities for winter driving?

This will be fun and along the way you will learn the right way to buy a car that will help you for the rest of your life. I speak at a small private college here in Oregon every year on this exact topic to usually several hundred students who don’t want to learn how to get a bargain the hard way.


———- FOLLOW-UP ———-

QUESTION: wow so much information.

Umm I am car ignorant so please be nice. I will try to answer your questions ..

Makes/models I get confused, but the cars that interest me:
Corollas, civics, camries .. small cars like that.

I’m hoping to outright buy the car in cash with the money that I have and not worry about any long term payment plans or anything.

Yes I will be employed after graduation. The money I’m actually wanting to use is leftover student loan money that I have saved up.

I live in Atlanta, GA

I would like to have a car relatively soon but I will definitely not go out and buy the first one I see tomorrow.

I definitely want a car that is relatively healthy (no serious diseases or health problems that will immediately cost thousands to repair) with an automatic transmission.

I don’t know what those things mean, import/domestic. I don’t care how many doors it has.. and I don’t understand umm.. 4 wheel drives.



Thanks for responding so fast and I hope you can help me even though I’m a bit ignorant. (:
Feel free to ask as many dumb questions as you need to in order to¬†understand the process. 4×4 means 4 wheel drive (like an suv) which people use to go through snow and off road¬†and other hard to get to places. You don’t need that in Atlanta. Cars made overseas or by foreign auto makers are imports Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, BMW …all imports. These cost more than their domestic counterparts (Chevy, Ford Chrysler). Lets start the search for the right car now… You said corolla’s or civic’s which are smaller than Camry’s and Accords’s and also¬†less expensive. here are a couple of links I want you to go to and scroll down thru the listings these cars are mostly advertised at full retail so don’t let the fact that¬†they appear¬†to be too expensive throw you ..there is one that caught my eye…its the 98 2 dr EX Civic (ex means sunroof which anyone your age should have if they can lol) its sporty looking (there are no pictures to see a picture go to google.com and click on images then put in the search box 98 2 dr honda civic) then take a look at what pops up)
I have attached the book sheet on that car for you to see we will do one of these on every possible car we find . let me know if you can’t read it also I used an atlanta¬†zip code so these cars are in your area. The book sheet on this car says 4050.00 and they are asking for $4,500. The car only has 69k miles on it which is extremely low these older hondas¬†with those kind of miles would sell at the auction here in portland¬†for up to 1,000 over wholesale book if they are in good shape. … do you like that style of car? you can go to autotrader.com and do a similar search for corollas etc. in your area .. look around some and get back to me with what you like and don’t like and once we get THE car you like most figured out then we can really drill down some car listings to find the right buy.
Hang on this is the fun part.

here is the search link ooops!


Bad Deal on a Bad Car http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2010/10/deal-bad-used-car.htm      

Days Car has been Listed Makes a Difference http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2014/3/days-listed.htm

Opinion on Car Price http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2014/2/opinion-car-price.htm

Negotiate Price First ? http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2014/1/price-negotiate-first.htm

How do I negotiate the price on a new car? http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2013/6/negotiating-new-car-price.htm

Dealerships Lie …Finance Companyt¬†¬† http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2013/5/dealership-lie-finance-company.htm

Help me purchase a car…¬† http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2013/2/purchase-car-1.htm

Bad Used Car Deal http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2012/12/bad-used-car-deal.htm

Paying Sticker Price http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2011/2/paying-sticker-price.htm

Paying too Much http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tips-Buying-Cars-1410/2010/12/paying.htm




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