If you are in the market of purchasing a high mileage vehicle, then you are probably strapped for cash but need a car. I get it, and so does about 57% of Americans that cannot afford an emergency costing more than $500. Or, perhaps you are looking to purchase a car for your child that just got a drivers license and do not want to spend much money. That’s smart because insurance is ridiculously high on new drivers. Either way, if find yourself in a situation where you need a car but don’t want to spend much money, don’t fret. There are plenty of decent cars out there that have high mileage and worth the purchase. It may not be easy to find, but with research and diligence, you will be able to find a car that will be within your budget and hopefully last a while.
First, consider where you want to purchase the car. Whether it is from a private owner or a mama-papa dealership; you should do plenty of research and come prepared with questions. The rule is - for me at least, and this applies to life in general - if you do not have a good feeling with from the person you are dealing with, then walk away. Your money, however little it may be, is valuable and trust me, they need your business more than you need that car. In most cases, consumers are less likely to be taken advantage of, when they come prepared with research. No one wants to mess with the smart person that did his or her homework. Ok, that’s my two sense, now let’s get started.
This is the third time it is being said, intentionally, because I cannot say this enough, do your research. If you don’t know anything about cars, get into the mindset that you are going to be an expert in the purchase process. Obtaining good sense knowledge is beneficial. If you live in California, it is the second (after a home) most important purchase. Are you feeling a lot of heat? Do not worry! There are so many websites and resources out there, and once you start digging in, you will get familiar with the resources available.
The one resource I recommend is to befriend a good mechanic. If you don’t have a mechanic friend, then it is time to broaden your social circle. A trustworthy mechanic will be an excellent resource in your life. Plus, if you are planning on purchasing a high mileage car, then you will need this person for continuing car maintenance care. Before you buy a vehicle, schedule a time when the mechanic can come and check out the car with you. You might have to pay for the services rendered, but it will be worth the money. To eliminate spending much money on a site visit from a mechanic, be sure you have done all your research about the car before the visit. Be sure you are ready to buy this car. If you are still on the fence, then save your money until you are sure. You want the mechanic to validate what you already know about the car.
So, how do you do your homework? Do your research! I can’t stress this enough because there are horror stories of people being taken advantage of in these types of situation. The sad thing is that people in this situation are the people that can’t afford it. So be sure to investigate wisely. Start with asking the owner if s/he kept a maintenance journal. Alternatively, have any record of services rendered on the car. A good indication of a decent car is the way the owner took care of it. You can tell in the conversation if the owner put time and effort into the car. So be sure to pay attention to this first initial interaction with the owner. Don’t worry if the journal doesn't exist. There are other ways to check.
If not, there is an app called MyCarFax that you can download on the Apple store and Google play store. Ask the owner for the VIN to the car and run the VIN through the app. The MyCarFax app displays DMV and smog check information. Most major auto service shops, such as Valvoline, are also known to report their car services to this app. This app will tell you about, and when, services rendered. Granted the owner serviced the car at a significant shop. In addition to listing the services done, this app will tell you about the upcoming services and part replacement based on mileage and manufacturer recommendations. A bonus about this app is, it will tell you what services and car part replacement and care are coming up based on the milages. For example, spark plug wires need replacement every 60,000 miles and oxygen and air sensor replacement every 100,000 miles. With knowledge like this, you can ask specific maintenance questions such as how many times spark plug wires have been replaced. Another benefit is that you will be able to see the forecast for car maintenance and if you can afford those services.