In a perfect World, we’d all own a brand new car. If you can afford a new car along with the taxes and the full coverage insurance that a new car requires, then you’re a snot and can stop reading this right now. If not, please read on and we’ll explore the options to look for when buying a used car. I am about due for a new car. Although my car choice has been good, the color wasn’t ideal. Mid-Life Crisis Yellow seemed like a good idea at the time, 10 years ago, but now I am finding that it is not a “discrete” color. Even living in a city of over 1,300,000 (the second largest city in the nation), people will say “I saw you yesterday and waived, but you didn’t wave back.” First of all, I NEVER waive back to my parole officer. And this just makes me realize I am in desperate need of a new car. The only advantage to having a bright glow-in-the-dark vehicle is that it’s easy to find in the mall parking lot. I used to just follow the trail of oil to my prior car. So, although my vehicle is the color of a lemon, it hasn’t been a lemon. I’m just ready for a new car. It has lost its new car smell. That new car smell is like pheromones on a first date. In fact, it smells like an old bum’s bum. The A/C broke last summer, which I fixed within a few days of breaking, but now the headliner is coming down. I have racked up over 180,000 miles on Old Yeller. And really need to sell it before I REALLY start having issues. But that makes me realize that any used vehicle I purchase will be sold by someone thinking the same thing. So will I be purchasing someone else’s problems?

The experts say if you can, buy a new car. Although its value will depreciate when you drive it off the lot, it will have a warranty and other perks. If you just can’t afford it, purchase yourself a new car smell air freshener to hang in that dank, used vehicle that you’re about to buy. A three or four-year-old car with low mileage and hopefully a few months left on the original warranty. This way, the original owner already took the hit on depreciation. And you can get it inspected by your personal mechanic before you purchase it, so they will address those issues at the dealership. If you purchase it from an individual, you’re kind of on your own.

The Federal Trade Commission has devised tips for purchasing a used car. In addition to having it inspected by your own mechanic, they also recommend that you research a car’s history using its vehicle identification number (VIN). Reports from CarFax, Experian Automotive, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System may alert you to prior accident damage and odometer fraud. I test drove a car once that had odd “rusty” seat belt hardware. I looked for any prior owner information in the glove compartment and found that the original owner was from New Orleans. And this car had likely survived Hurricane Katrina. Glad we thought to look.

A list of issues will need to be addressed, such as faulty Takata airbags. And be sure that any “promises” made regarding repairs and warranties are in writing before you drive off. Just gather enough information about the vehicle as possible. And for crying out loud, don’t buy a bright colored car, unless you want to buy mine because it’s definitely for sale.

Until next week….

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Buying a Used Car – Comedy Defensive Driving