Buying a used car FOR DUMMYS!


Everyday people buy used cars. Some people know what they are looking at and what they want, others simply don't. Internet forums are FULL of threads where someone says "HEY EVERYBODY! I found this cool car. Good price? Or bad?" So here is a How To in which I will go through stuff to look for and things you should do prior to buying a DEPENDABLE Used Car.


First off.

There are so many cars out there. Never jump the gun and buy a car yickedy split. Rembember that as nice as this car is, chances are that in a month you will find one just like it but with less miles and a color you perfer at a lesser cost.

Now there are several ways to find a car.

Internet websites such as or
Theres the famous (or infamous)
and there is also those free little books at your local quicky mart chock full of local cars and the ones you see on the side of the road with a "for Sale" sign.


Now there are several kinds of cars you should avoid and things you should look at.

1. Does the car have signs of serious modification? (i.e. blowers, nitrous, cams and a/c delete) Now of coarse you are saying, and the seller will too, "The car has $10,000 in upgrades! Its an awesome deal!" It could be... It probably is NOT! Why do people put nitrous on thir cars? So that they will go faster. Now these people take their fast car and drive it hard and put triple the wear and tear on the engine, drivetrain, and suspension. This makes the car more vunrable to breaking or dieing.

2. Look at the guy selling the car. You cannot trust this guy. Does he look like the kind of guy that sells cars all the time? Do you think that the guy selling the car gives a rats ass what happens to it? Does it look like he liked the car and took care of it? What if the guy bought the car 3 years ago, didn't give a shit and a half about it, and never changed the oil? What if the car is gonna die? He won't say, "Welp, this here car will probably only run for another 1,000 miles."

3. Why is the seller selling the car? Did he not take care of it and change the oil? Did he buy a Kenne Bell supercharger and run it into the ground? Did his mother pass away and he needs the funds?

Its VERY VERY VERY important to look at this kind of stuff... If you want a dependable car, then this is what you should look at when buying one.


Once you find a car that you say to yourself, "Reckon I could sleep in that there beautiful automobile." You do TWO things.

1. Look up the value of the car at
2. check the vehicle's history at


You look up the value because that is all that the car is worth. Insurance companies use this website to decide what a car is worth. So, God forbid someone moron plows into your car, the insurance company will have to decide if it is worth fixin. If the the damage excedes the cars value, they junk it and write you a check for that ammount... So if you buy a car, drive it home, and it gets hit, after you spent all that money. That money goes down the tubes, bye bye, later for you.

Checking the vehicle's history is equally as important. People do all kinds of crazy stuff to sell a car. They will not tell you that last year it was in an accident and they had to straighten out the frame. And they sure as hell won't say, "hey, I rolled back the odometer to fool your sorry ass"

Its also a good idea to look and see if the vin#s have been tampered with. (located on the dash, engine block, and frame) If they don't match or look funny in a non adam sandler kind of way, the car is probably stolen. But generally this will come up in a carfax report.


So there ya have it... This is what you should look at when buying a dependable car... If you are looking for a race car or something to fuck around with, then this makes no difference.

Also, If the seller says, "I replaces the tranny last year as well as this or that." Ask to see Recietes. This could also be a sigh that the car has lots of problems or the guy could be lying to you.

It is also a good idea to look for something with low miles, a well maintaned car with 50,000 miles is more dependable then that same car with 100,000 miles.


Having a father who recently retired the NJ state police :police: and works for NJ motor vehcle commision, this is what I have learned.

He has locked up hundreds of car selling crooks and they keep selling bad cars even after all the fines and jail time. There are so many people out there trying to make a buck and will do anything they can to do so which is why it is important to remember that they are not your friend and you should not trust them however nice and friendly they are.

I hope this will help all you youngsters and save you guys headaches! ;)


Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2006
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Re: Buying a new car FOR DUMMYS!

I still swear by I dont even look at kbb anymore. I need to open up a used car lot. Good thread btw.
Re: Buying a new car FOR DUMMYS!

94GtStAnG5o said:
I still swear by I dont even look at kbb anymore. I need to open up a used car lot. Good thread btw.

same thing really... all you need is the #


Active Member
Aug 18, 2007
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Good information, but there's more.

I have seen lately on other boards where people bought a car and then later discover a nightmare that could have been avoided.


I don't just mean for oil drips, I mean the underside of the car.

One guy found a rust hole, frame entirely rusted through, that the previous owner patched together by almost welding in some torque boxes. If he had looked under the car before he bought it he would have seen the rusted out frame instead of discovering it when he removed the rear seat to do something else with the car.

I saw another guy complain about something that would have been found with a quick glance under the car but was now complaining after he bought it. I wish I could remember what it was.

Look under, around, over, and through the car. It will speak to you. How much rust is underneath? A lot will tell you it was either driven in road salt or was hardly driven and just got a lot of condensation on it from lack of use. Are there any coat hangers underneath? This gives an idea of the kind of concern the present owner has in doing a job right when the car needs work. How dirty is the engine compartment? Another source of care. Does the 6 year old car, or older, have nice green anti-freeze or is it rusty? If rusty it may have never been flushed and changed.

I spent 40 minutes going through my wife's 1966 Mustang and when I was done we were intimately familiar. I saw the patch in the floor that had been done a couple years ealier. It was a reproduction panel but was not installed with the best of care. The 6 cylinder car had a V8 put into it and the correct 5 lug front spindles had been put on it, along with new tie rod ends and sleeves. The lower control arms were new (they come with balljoints pressed in) but that is all. The rest of the front suspension was original so would need new bushings. The paint job was about 1 1/2 years old and you could see that everything that was removeable on the body was painted off the body for maximum coverage. Though the quality of the paint job was not the best it had been done with much consideration. This meant there wasn't any bare metal.

These are things that will either cost you tons or give you confidence that you are doing well by buying this car, but you've gotta crawl underneath to see the rest of the story.



New Member
Jan 24, 2010
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Take someone with you. Best if they are not emotional about the car and are a real friend or a girl. That helps keep u real and they notice things you don't if you get too emotional. sometimes when we get emotional like over someone we
think we have to have it is a bad decision for the long term.
The second person can also pick up cues about the buyer while you are focusing on the car. This could get you a better deal.
Lastly don't be afraid to make an offer and walk away. You can come back later or buy another car.


Active Member
Mar 27, 2010
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I would like to add, if you have a car worth more then KBB value, keep all invoices and paperwork (it will help the appraiser) and take the car to an appraiser and fork out the $50-100 to get it appraised, send a copy of the appraisal to the insurance company, keep one, and any good appraiser will keep a copy. God forbid you are ever in a crash they MUST go by the appraised value, NOT KBB. This means if you have 10K in your engine and some idiot hits you head on and trashes all kinds of cool gear you will be paid for it, if you just forked out an arm leg and your first born for a new paint job you will be paid for it, or a job of equal value will be done. Yes your premiums may go up a bit, but $20 a month is well worth having the piece of mind that you will be fairly compensated for your ride if it's trashed.
Sep 6, 2011
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Here's my thing with cars and low miles.

The main problem with vehicles that have TOO LOW of miles can be a pretty big problem. Heres and example.
Let's say you find a nice 1988 gt mustang. Its a manual and has 19k miles and an older lady owned it since new. You may think that your buying a pristine car because of the low miles when in actuality, you could be buying a problem child. Why? Well look at it this way. Your buying a vehicle from someone who barely drives the car. By barely, i mean 50-100 miles a MONTH on average. Why is that a problem? Because the car never gets up to operating temp when she goes to that grocery store or church on sunday. The hardest thing on a motor is startup. I say this from experience of flipping alot of low mileage vehicles. I buy cars from customers that dont want to fix them when they come into my dealership. When you start driving that vehicle daily and putting more miles on it in a week then it has seen in the last few months you will start running into problems. Waterpumps start leaking, a/c refridgerent lines burst, belts break, misc coolant lines strat to leak, valve cover gaskets leak, rear mains, oil pans, brake lines, master cylinders etc etc. I could go on for hours on cars that i have purchased and had MASSIVE problems. When you buy a low low mileage car thats not used to being driven alot, you COULD run into alot of issues with it that you werent expecting. I bought a 1993 fullsize bronco that had just turned 200k miles, but was driven (obviously) and well taken care of and i put 70k on it and NEVER HAD ONE SINGLE PROBLEM WITH IT besides maintenance. Just a thought



Apr 23, 2020
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Omaha, Nebraska is another really good place for shopping cars. Its ebay + a whole plethura of car shopping websites.

Speaking of RUST. I managed to stumble upon a recently "traded" in 01' Cherokee. I looked underneath and OH MAN there was rust EVERYWHERE. Came back two weeks later and the same jeep had just come back from "getting a detail" never seen so much bondo lol. I doubt they took the time to grind all the rust out as I could see rust starting to come though on the new paint job. They did get that jeep looking pretty nice though... Really easy to miss had I not seen it previously. Some poor kid probably bought it not knowing any better. SNEAKY USED DEALERSHIPS
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