In Step One, we talked about what the need is, why we need the car, and narrowed down the type of car we are looking for.
In Step Two, we decided how much we can afford to pay for this car.
Now we need to find a car that fits our need and is within the price range that we can afford. There are many places to look and I will list few good places here. Don’t limit yourself to newspapers and these ‘free’ local papers that carry a bunch of classifieds. Sure look there, but you will may not have good success from just that. Most people selling a car these days will list it somewhere online. The sites I start looking through are Autotrader, cars.com, and craigslist.com. There are many others, but these will give you a real good look at what’s out there. The time you spend doing this will help you decide if the one or two models you think you want are available and whether your price range includes them. Don’t get too focused on the photos that are on the websites either. Give cars without photos a good look as well, because often this means the seller is just lazy, and is not likely to be trying to get top dollar. That is a good thing for you.
Search your local "park and rides" also, on your way home work and whenever you are out. Let your friends know that you are looking and tell them if they see a car that fits your search criteria to give you a call. The more people helping you look, the better.
You can have autotrader email you a list of cars each day. This can help you be able to jump on a newly listed car.
Besides these places to search, I want to tell you what I consider a secret place that many people overlook. Are you ready for this? Government auctions! You may have seen infomercials about buying things at Government Auctions and you may think its difficult or whatever, but I have bought my last two family cars there. It is easy and it is a very good place to find a reliable used car. Here’s why.
The government has cars available for it’s employees for a variety of reasons, but many times these cars are not driven much. I just bought a 2000 Ford Explorer that had about 60,000 miles on it! seven years, 60,000 miles. That is less than 10,000 per year. These cars are also managed by a maintenance section that does routine oil changes etc, and they do this far more often than your typical private owner. This means the engines have "usually’ been taken care of. I will do a series of posts in the future about how to go about buying a car at Government Auctions and I will tell you now. It’s free. There is no reason to join a club that the infomercial tells you about. There are no fees to get lists of cars that are for sell. You have a right as a citizen to purchase these cars. Sure, you will be competing with mostly car dealers for the car you want. That’s the fun part.
Okay. Let’s assume we have found a car or two that we would like to pursue. The next step is researching the particular car you have in mind. Is it worth what they are asking? Does it have hidden problems that we need to know about? These questions will be covered in Step Four.