Buying a used car

I heard Dave Ramsey tell a story about someone who got a great used car (many years old) for $4,000 from an elderly aunt who had hardly ever driven it. I think finding deals like this one is somewhat a matter of luck, and not easy to find.

I only know of one way to shop for a used car, which is to go to my local dealership … I have been pretty fortunate – I bought two used cars from them in the past 18 years, and never had one minute’s trouble with either of them. My current car is just over 10 years old, only about 88,000 miles on it (I lived in NYC for a long time and hardly ever drove it there). But now that I’m living in snow country, and driving to work instead of taking the subway, so I’m starting to have to spend money every couple of months in repairs.

So now I’d like to replace the car sometime this year. I don’t want to spend $12-14,000, like I did my previous “gently” used cars. But I don’t know how else to shop for a car except at a dealership.

Does anyone have tips about other ways to find good deals on used cars? I’ve never been to an auction, and know nothing about mechanics.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Check around for local papers that advertise things for sale. In my area we’ve got a small paper (free) called Wheeler Deeler that mostly deals in used cars. I picked up a copy today at a gas station. I’m also looking for a decent car and want to spend between 2 & 3 thousand. There’s a few cars in that price range. So look at the gas station next time you fill up. See what kind of skinny little paper they have, it’s usually put with the regular newspapers or by the exit. Hope this helps.

I got my last car (the one I still drive) from a very anal person who kept terrific records. I then got the car inspected by two different mechanics (worth the money in my opinion) who gave it a clean bill of health.

The person who I bought the car from was very much the type of person who would make you take off your shoes to get into his car. Served me well. He got the oil changed every 1500 miles, took great care of the car, cleaned and vacuumed it regularly. Never smoked in it. Had it detailed before he sold it. Then, I purchased it through my local credit union. Get pre-approved first, if you are not paying cash for the car. Good luck!