Tips for Shopping for a Car Online.

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Shopping for a car online can save a lot of miles from being piled up on your friend’s and family’s cars.  Shopping for a car on the Internet can also save your old beater from dying on the side of the highway, on your way to see a car that really wasn’t even as good as the beater you are now driving.  Using common sense, as in asking the right questions when dealing with a private seller, or just asking for a copy of the CARFAX report from used-car dealers.  We all have our dream cars, a 1954 1/2 Corvette Stingray, a 1966 Mustang GT Fastback, or a 2009 Austin Mini Cooper, and finding that dream car can be just a few clicks away.

On the Internet, there are a lot of car dealing, trading and auctioning websites that cater to people who are looking for something that they can get their hands a little dirty on, fixing them up to code.  When a car comes without a certified safety certificate, then there is no telling what problems may persist, but one thing to remember is that in many places, the car does not really even need a working engine to pass a safety.  Anything that a safety covers is either mechanical or can be run off of the car’s battery.  Insisting upon a test drive, without prior permission is always a great idea when buying a car that was found online, and not through a reputable source, like Autotrader.com.

The reasoning behind being sneeky and asking for a test drive when you first go and see the car is that people can do quick fixes to make a car seem like it is nearly new.  But after 40 or 50 miles, it starts falling apart, or spewing black smoke from the exhaust, and green and red fluids dripping from the engine and transmission areas.  When you do take a car for a test drive, give it a real test.  Drive the car a bit on the hard side, and see if she backfires when accelerated quickly to 55 mph, or if there is a pull or rattle on the steering wheel.  Brake slowly and quickly, and see if there are any noises or jerking of the brake pedal.  If any of these signs show up, walk away from the deal.

Finding a car by using the Internet can be very rewarding, as a lot of seniors are now getting hooked up online, to talk to their grandchildren, great grandchildren and their kids and other family and old friends.  Finding a barely used 1972 Nova, or even a Cadillac with suicide doors is no longer just the luck of driving by an old farmhouse at the right time.  But when you do see a really good deal show up online, it is best to just jump right at  it, call the owner and go see if it fits your needs and wants.

Whether using a car selling site, a trading site like “usedCITY.com”, where CITY is the name of the city you are looking for a car in, Craigslist, EBay, Kijiji or any of the other popular sites.  You can even put the word out on your Facebook and Twitter accounts that you are in the hunt for a specific car, and if anyone sees one in good shape to give you a text or call.  No longer is it one person looking in the classified ads and on the side of the roads, but a social network of my two friends, and their two friends, and their two friends, and their two friends, and so on.

When shopping for a car online, it is also best to ask for a CARFAX report, or if one is not made, then have a mechanic of your choice check the car over.  Sometimes the lemon law and other laws put in place to help consumers is just a little too little, too late for most of the lower wage earners out there, looking for a cheap car to get to work during the week, and to where they have fun on theweekends.

Drive safe.  Drive informed.

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