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Published November 17, 2006

Our 6 step road map to buying your used car, haggling with tough sellers and avoiding scams. Best used car advice on the net
Used car classifieds sites such as Cars.com, CarsDirect.com and Car.com
How to finance used cars through dealers or person to person. Reviews of Capital One Auto Finance
How to use CARFAX Vehicle History Reports to negotiate a lower price, check wrecked, salvaged, odometer fraud cars
Print out questions for you to ask the seller, our cool used car bill of sale form
If you get a discount from new car sites like Cars.com, InvoiceDealers, Edmunds.com you won't need a used car
Buying a used car when the seller still owes money on it
Consumer Alert: Tens of thousands of flooded and totaled used cars from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita
When Hurricane Katrina struck Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in August, 2005, and Hurricane Rita hit Florida, Louisiana and Texas in September 2005, it was one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States. Aside from death and destruction, few people know what happened to the tens of thousands of cars that were totaled, most of them flooded by Katrina's storm surge and the flooding all of New Orleans. Many car dealer lots had hundreds of cars completely submerged under water. After insurance claims, these cars will have their titles branded as totaled or flooded, then they'll be shipped to other states so their titles can be laundered back to normal status, while latent water damage corrodes the electronics. It is more important than ever for you to run a CARFAX Vehicle History Report on every used car you look at, because you can't afford to be stuck with a previously flooded or totaled vehicle.

In September, 2005 CARFAX added the Flood Alert Advisory to their reports to alert you to check the vehicle out prior to making the purchase. This vital intelligence allows you to spot vehicles registered in the areas impacted by hurricane damage such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The alert tells you if the vehicle was registered in a county declared a flood disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Used Car Pricing Does Not Use Invoice Price
We often get asked if "Invoice Price" and "MSRP" apply to used cars, or if you should try to calculate an offer for used cars based on invoice price. No, the Invoice Price and MSRP only apply to new cars, not used cars. For used cars, there is no invoice price because car dealers acquire used cars from people at a "trade in" price, then mark it up on the lot. The best way to determine used car prices is to check how your car has sold on eBay the last few weeks, and bring printouts with you to the dealer to support your offers on used cars.

Finding out what's wrong with that used car before you buy
Everyone buying a used car should get CARFAX Vehicle History Reports, they get data from a substantial number of dealers and aftermarket repair shops, nearly 5,000 sources. A mechanic can put the car on a lift and instantly spot previous crash damage, hidden frame damage, corrosion, and fluid leaks, but not if the title is rebuilt, or if it's stolen, or passed through a salvage auction. Most mechanics ignore airbags. You can only tell how many owners that car had or where it's been with a history repot, not just by looking at the car. This is not the time to 2nd guess. Unfortunately there are no clear laws if you sign an "As Is" paper. Any used car can have a bad past, Mercedes, Lexus, Honda or Toyota. My friend ran a CARFAX Vehicle History Report on a used Mercedes and found it failed inspection. Some municipalities don't supply accident report info, that's why you still need to have a mechanic look at it. If the police never made a report, it won't show up in the CARFAX report.

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