Relocating a Company? Employ The Specialists for Help

Your company is expanding, and it is a chance to move to a better setting. It doesn’t matter if it means a more impressive property or possibly a property closer to customers, you will have to carry out the actual transition with as limited disruption to your small business as possible. For many, the office removals Adelaide could require transporting anything and everything right away. For some others, it could possibly mean shifting half of the small business and after that the other half, working with a skeleton crew to help keep the company up and running during the move.

The best thing you can try to assist a move progress smoothly is going to be to work with a mover to get guidance. You will find businesses such as experts who do office relocations Adelaide at http://www.a2bremovalsgroup.com.au/removalists/removals-adelaide/office-removals.html that happen to be authorities with transporting businesses like your own and they can assist you to get anything and everything packed up, relocated to your new site, and then unpacked as well as set back up. With an experienced professional so that you can transfer the overall procedure is going to be simpler and more smoothly. The professionals who do office removalists Adelaide are able to pack, transfer, and unpack quicker than somebody that is not familiar with moving small businesses, and so they can ensure that all the details are packaged safely and securely which means there won’t be incidents during the transfer.

Should you be being prepared for a major shift for the business, make sure to obtain help. It is crucial the move goes swiftly and that every little thing can make it safely and securely, therefore it is in your business’s interest to use a professional like the Business moving services at www.a2bremovalsgroup.com.au/removalists/removals-adelaide/office-removals.html to aid you. Make this shift uncomplicated by employing the experts.

Japanese Car Auction Inspection Reports Demystified

Car auctions in Japan are a great way for car importers around the world to source good quality, low mileage cars and other used vehicles at great prices.

However, in order to make the most of the opportunities these Japanese car auctions give you as a car dealer, you have to make sure that you understand the car inspection reports. As a well-informed buyer, you can make sure you sift out the gold and avoid costly mistakes.

In this article, we will look together at who makes these auction inspection reports and what you can find in them.

If you are at at serious about buying cars from car auctions in Japan, you need to read on.

Quick Primer: What are these Japanese Car Auctions?

There are about 86 different auction locations in Japan. A typical day will see anything from about 7,000 to over 40,000 used cars and other vehicles sold at these auctions all around the country.

A good Japanese car exporter will give his customers access to all these auctions through an online system. You may be a continent or two away from Japan, and yet sit down in front of your computer and tap right into this huge selection of RHD and LHD cars right away.

Enter a bid at the click of a mouse, and let the car exporter in Japan handle the rest. A few weeks later the car will be arriving at the port for you to pick up.

Used Car Inspections at Japanese Car Auctions

Car auctions in Japan employ seasoned mechanics to inspect all the vehicles they sell. These inspectors work on site in the case of most auctions, or off site at car dealerships in the exceptional case of Aucnet.

The auction inspection covers every aspect of the car, from mechanical areas and chassis, to the exterior and interior condition. The car auction inspectors are thorough in their approach, with the only caveats being that they do not drive the car at any more than parking lot speeds, and obviously they cannot dismantle the vehicle to check out really hard-to-reach places.

The Auction Inspector’s Report

The car auction inspector write his notes on the o-kushon hyo (auction sheet). He will use a combination of scoring systems, written descriptions and a diagram of the exterior to give readers a good idea of the condition of the used car.

Overall Auction Grade

Car auctions in Japan assign an overall grade to each of the cars entered in the weekly auction.

I do not recommend that you rely solely on this grade when you consider whether to enter a bid or not. You will need to check the other detailed information that the inspector has written on the auction sheet as well.

(A good Japanese car exporter will be able to give you a professional translation of these details.)

That said, the overall auction grade has a role to play in helping you narrow down the field of potential bidding candidates. Here is a quick summary of the different grades:

Grades 7, 8, 9 or S – These refer to brand new cars with only delivery mileage.

Grade 6 – This grade can sometimes be equivalent to the grades above, but cars with this auction grade will usually have a little more than just delivery mileage.

Grade 5 – These are vehicles in superb condition, very close to brand new standard, but with several thousand kilometers on the odometer.

Grade 4.5 – A car in excellent condition, but with up to a few tens of thousands of kilometers on the clock.

Grade 4 – A good, solid car usually having less than 100,000 km on the clock.

Grade 3.5 – A higher mileage vehicle or one which will need some work to clean up.

Grade 3 – Either a very high mileage car or one which is generally rough.

Grade 2 – Very rough vehicles usually with corrosion holes being the reason for this low grade.

Grade 1 – Usually a heavily modified car which has had a different engine or transmission fitted, or which has an aftermarket turbo charger. Other possibilities are used cars with flood or fire extinguisher damage.

Grade R, RA, A and 0 (zero) – These are cars that have had some kind of accident repairs. At one end of the scale the repairs will be a single panel replaced due a minor parking ding, whereas at the other extreme there are vehicles that must have rolled in an accident which have had almost every panel replaced.

Ungraded vehicles – These are sold as-is by the auction with no or almost no information about their condition. As such they are very risky and can result in escalating additional costs if they cannot drive or move.

Some of these grades are more common than others. For example, grade 3.5 and 4 used cars will make up about 50% of any given day’s auction, whereas there will only be a handful of grade 1 cars on the same day.

Interior and Exterior Grades

Japanese car auction inspectors assign letters to indicate the interior and (sometimes) exterior condition of the car. Again, these are very broad designations, just like the overall auction grading, and it is really important to read the details of the inspectors’ comments to get a full picture of the condition.

Essentially, “B” is considered “average condition, considering the age and mileage of the car”. So an interior grading of “A” means that the interior is above average, and if it is “C” then it is below average.

The “Car Map”

This is a diagram of the exterior of the car, and is usually found at the bottom right corner of the auction sheet.

The auction inspector will mark this with a combination of letters and numbers to indicate damage to the outside of the vehicle.

Here are some basic designations:

A = scratch

U = dent

S = rust (from the Japanese word sabi)

C = corrosion

W = unevenness in the panel (usually caused by panel beating)

These letters are also usually followed by a number to indicate the severity. So “1” is the least severe, and “4” is the most severe. In practice, the Japanese are so fastidious about these things that something like “A1”, which means the smallest scratch, is really barely visible to the eye.

Japanese Car Auction Inspectors’ Comments

In addition to the above, the inspector also will write comments about the used car as he reviews it. Obviously, the higher grade the car is, the less likely it is to have extra information written about it. So a grade 3 car will have many more comments than a grade 5 car.

The exception to this can be cars that have a large number of modifications and aftermarket parts fitted that the inspector then lists on the auction sheet.

Although it may seem that the overall grade, the interior and exterior grades and the car map give you enough information in order to place a bid, I strongly advise buyers to make sure that they get these comments professionally translated before they make the final decision to bid.

A grade 5 or above car may hold no surprises, but with anything below that it is possible that the inspector has written something which could influence your decision to go ahead with a bid or not. This is why it is very important to look for a Japanese car exporter who offers professional-quality translations of auction sheets.

Concluding Remarks

Car auctions in Japan offer a great selection of used cars to source at good prices, and the auction inspection regime means that you can get a good, detailed picture of the condition of any vehicle prior to bidding.

Although it may seem daunting to be buying used cars from halfway around the world, these Japanese car auction inspection reports make the process of finding good vehicles easier and more reliable.

Selling Your Car at Auction – A Beginners Guide

With many people struggling to make ends meet and TV adverts with catchy jingles tempting you to sell your car for quick cash, it can seem appealing. Your car (next to your house) is probably your most expensive piece of equity and with this in mind, it can be tempting to sell it, purchase a cheaper make or model and pocket the difference.

Car auctions, whether they be physical or on-line, can be a good way of selling your car, safe in the knowledge that an experienced auctioneer has yours, and the auction house’s, best interest at heart. You may think that these things do not always necessarily go hand in hand but bear in mind that the auction house will take a percentage of the purchase price (buyers fee) as commission so it is in their interest to get you as much money as possible!

So, let’s start with the basics:

What is a car auction?

Car auctions have a long history within the automotive industry with many different types of business using them to either sell excess stock or purchase new stock for resale.

They are extremely popular in the USA and Japan and are gaining popularity in the UK where they are no longer seen as dirty places. This is mainly thanks to the industry making a concerted effort to change the reputation of the sector and make it more appealing to all people, not just those ‘in the trade’.

Car auctions sell cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, plant equipment, and some of them will also sell large goods vehicles and possibly caravans and motor homes.

Auction houses do not own the vehicles which they sell. They merely act as a shop front for many different types of seller. These can include leasing companies, fleet management companies, dealer groups, banks and financial institutions, governmental bodies, police, and of course private individuals.

Let’s look at each of these different sellers more closely:

Leasing Companies

Leasing companies rent vehicles to companies or private drivers for a set period of time (sometimes as little as 1 year) so the vehicles put into auction are usually young models with a good mileage and because the cars are usually leased from new, they may have only had one person driving them whilst going to a meeting twice a week! When the lease or rental period ends, leasing companies will enter their old stock into auction as their customers are more interested in leasing brand new vehicles. These companies are usually owned by banks or financial institutions.

Fleet Management Companies

These are similar to Leasing companies in that they lease their stock to organisations but differ in that they will supply their customers with a whole fleet of cars and manage that fleet on behalf of their client. Again, when the rental period for the fleet ends, the companies wish to take advantage of the capital wrapped up in their stock in order to replace it with new models.

Dealer Groups

If you have ever part exchanged your old car at one of the large, glass fronted dealers or showrooms, chances are it has subsequently been put into auction and sold. Dealer groups will also enter old or unsold stock (known as overage) from their forecourts in order to keep their showrooms looking fresh with the latest that the manufacturer(s) have to offer. Of course, buying a vehicle at auction which has been entered by a dealer group can be a bit riskier than the leasing or fleet companies as if someone has part exchanged their old car, you have to ask yourself why did they do it, what sort of person where they, how well did they keep it and how many previous keepers has it had?

Banks and financial institutions

Banks and financial institutions can fall into fleet and leasing companies as many of them have these elements within their respective corporate families and follow the same trends. However, banks can also enter cars into auctions that have been repossessed from their customers after defaults on loan or mortgage repayments. Obviously a car itself is of little or no interest to a bank, they are only interested in the value and the money which can be made from it.

Governmental bodies

Government bodies will run fleets of cars for their staff and key executives and will update this fleet on a regular basis with the old stock being put into auction. Separate Government departments will also enter a wide range of vehicles at auction from ex-defence Land Rovers or staff cars, to lawn mowers and diggers used on the local playing fields or in the local cemetery! Local Government may also enter cars into auction that have been seized by bailiffs follow non payment of bills such as Council Tax (depending on the Local Authority in question, these can be quite high end models).

Police

Police forces will auction vehicles seized from convicted criminals to either compensate victims, break up an illegal estate or regain public money gained fraudulently. The police also auction a variety of other items seized for similar reasons and may do this through an auction house or by holding their own property auctions. As well as these lots, all police forces will also run a fleet of undercover or unmarked vehicles and these will need to be constantly updated, with the old stock being put into auction to raise funds for the force.

Private individuals

This is the category of seller that we are really interested in. Private sellers can enter and purchase cars from auction and if their car is not sold first time round, they can tell the auction house to keep putting it in until they receive an acceptable bid. Be warned though, auction houses will charge you for each time they enter the car so if you have sold your car after a couple of sales, you may want to check your reserve price or rethink your options.

How does it work?

Most auctions work on the same principal; your prospective buyers bid against one another, raising the amount which they offer with each new bid they make until their competitors drop out and they are left as the highest bidder. All of your bidders will be in the auction hall (although an online element is becoming increasing popular) and all bids are made in the open. This type of auction is known as an ‘English Auction and its formula applies to the majority of vehicle auctions.

When your vehicle arrives at the auction centre, it will be inspected by the auctions technicians who will highlight any scratches, dents, scuffs, rust, etc and value the overall damage costs. It can be important to consider this when you think about your reserve as trade buyers will have a good idea of the vehicles value and of the damage costs and will factor this into their bidding. The damage cost will not be shown to any buyers, it is purely for the auction house’s records.

Your car will then be photographed and ‘lotted’, the process whereby your car is entered into a sale. It will be assigned a lot number and will be placed in the auctions yard to be viewed by the buyers.

At the same time, your vehicles details will be published online for buyers to look at before they arrive at the auction. This is a good way of building interest in your car and most auction houses will send our copies of their latest catalogues to their buyers.

You should do your best to ensure that you car is entered with all of the paperwork and material which you have relating to it:

  • V5c Registration Document
  • Hand book
  • Any other manuals (SatNav, radio, etc)
  • Service book
  • Historic garage receipts of details of work carried out
  • Locking wheel nut key (if your car has one)
  • Any other information or items that came with your car when you bought it

All of these things are important to buyers and if you were buying a car, you would expect to have everything that you could have relating to it so think of these when you enter your car.

Of course, you will also have to leave your key and any spares with the auction.

In the auction halls…

When your vehicle is lining up to be driven into the auction halls, buyers will start to look closely at the car, looking for any damage and they may open the doors to look at the interior. Buyers are not usually allowed to test drive cars or look under the bonnet so this process of final inspection is important to them.

Once your car is in place in front of the auctioneer, the cars details and any special features, such as extra interior features, alloy wheels, etc, will be read to the audience. The auctioneer will then start the bidding with an opening bid below your reserve. If there is a great deal of interest in your car, bids can rise fast with many people competing. Eventually, the auctioneer may drop the increases in size to amounts that the last couple of bidders feel more comfortable with. This could mean that you see increases of £50 for your car rather than the £500s you were seeing right at the start. The buyer with the final highest bid has now bought your car as long as their highest bid was over your reserve. At this point the buyer has entered into a legal contract.

If the final highest bid did not quite meet your reserve, the auctioneer may class this a provisional bid and the auction will then attempt to negotiate between you and the buyer. At this point, you can ask for more money or demand that your reserve be met. If you go too high and the buyer pulls out, the sale will fall through. It is a balancing act between what the buyer is prepared to offer and the minimum amount you are willing to accept.

If you reach an agreement, the sale will go through as normal.

If agreement cannot be reached, you have the option to take your car out of future auctions and keep it, or enter it again in the hope of getting a better bid. Hopefully this won’t happen and you will sell your car but if you have to consider this you should remember that many auctions are used by motor traders who attend most weeks and if they see the same car go through each week, they will be less inclined to offer a high bid. Auctions will also charge you for each time you enter your car, with some also charging storage after a certain amount of time and sales, so you should consider these costs when thinking of the money you intend to make from the sale.

How much will it cost?

The fee to enter your car in an auction can range from £15-£30 depending on the size and reputation of the auction house and will be deducted from the total sale value of the car. This fee will be payable each time you enter your car in to a sale if it does not sell.

On top of this, there will also be commission deducted from the sale price. This will be on an increasing scale and will depend on the sale price of the vehicle in question. Always check with the auction house before you enter your vehicle and shop around the auction houses local to you to get the best deal.

After the sale

Assuming that a deal has been reached or that your vehicle sold straight away, the auction will not give any of the vehicles paperwork to the new buyer until full payment has been made. Once this happens, the auction will pass all material relating to the car to the buyer.

Most auction companies will also deal with the legal change in ownership on your behalf and will communicate the sale to DVLA Swansea with the vehicles V5c Registration Document on your behalf, as you do not know the buyers details. Some auctions charge for this service so check at time of entry.

Car auction companies are usually pretty quick in sending you the money for your car and can be as quick as a couple of days after the sale, usually by cheque or bank transfer. The entry charges and commission taken by the auction will usually be details on a remittance advice sent to you once your money has been sent to you.

Other things to consider:

When you are thinking of putting your car into an auction, you may want to think of these things which can increase your chances of getting a sale:

  • Is the interior clean?
  • Having crisp packets, drinks bottles or cigarette ends n the ashtray is not appealing and you would not by a car like that so why would anyone else?
  • Do you smoke in your car?
  • If you smoke in your car, try to banish the smell of stale smoke as best you can. Smoking in cars can also lead to burns on seats, trim and just about anywhere else so be aware of them.
  • Have you got a complete or good service history on your car?

Buyers look at the service history on your car to see how it has been kept. A good service history usually mean that the rest of the car has been looked after properly. Main dealer stamps are highly sought in service history but your local approved garage will suffice.

Is there any tax left on your car?

Selling a car with tax allows the buyer to drive away with that car on the day they bought it. If your car does not have tax, they buyer will need to insure it, then sort out the tax before they can drive it. Since auction houses will not pass any vehicle documents to the buyer before full payment is made, this can lead to a great deal of hassle for the buyer as they will have to go away, sort the insurance, come back and pay for the car, go away and sort the tax (now that they have the MOT certificate), come back and finally drive away.

Trade buyers buying many cars will not worry about the hassle factor too much as they will get their new cars delivered by transporter, it mainly matters to them for the resale value which tax can add onto their forecourts.

When does the MOT run out (or does it even have one?)

Selling your car with MOT gives your car a boost in auction as buyers will just see it as an added expense if it does not have one. Your buyer will also need to have a valid MOT before they can ensure the car!

Are there cosmetic things that could be tidied or corrected before you enter it?

Are there stains on seats or interior trim that can be removed? Is there a brake light bulb that could be replaced? Are there stickers on the windows that could be removed?

Is it worthwhile sorting out that scratch before you enter it?

Getting a small scratch or dent repaired before you enter your car can increase the chances of it selling as it will not be noted on the damage report (as long as it is a good job!)

Do you have a spare key, SatNav disk, or old garage bills in the back of a cupboard somewhere?

You should do your upmost to ensure that you give everything associated with your car to the auction along with your vehicle. Things like spare keys add to the value and old garage receipts let your buyer know exactly what has been done, added, changed or mended to their new car as well as who done it.

Obviously, if your car has built in SatNav, you should include the disk for this along with any instruction manuals.

Remember, auction houses will inspect your car and so will our buyers sonly sort out scratches or other problems if you feel you can be a good job of it otherwise it just means that someone else has to redo your attempt meaning more cost and time!

This article is only meant as a guide as all auction companies have different processes, fees, client base and ethos but I hope that this article has given you some insight into the considerations of selling your car, van, lorry, tractor (or any other vehicle) at a car auction and if you do decide to follow this route, good luck!

In my next article, I will be talking about how an auction works from the buyers side.

How To Spot A Good Used Car Just From The Ad

When you buy a used car it can be a frustrating experience with many people feeling helpless and frustrated with no clear direction to go in. Buying a used car in a private sale will take a great deal of time but by reading into the content of the used car ad you can get a good idea as to the mentality of the seller and potentially the condition of the car as well.

Ads that are very descriptive, including pictures, and detail the vitals about the car, its previous history, as well as the past and current mechanical condition are best. By providing detailed information about the car you are more easily able to determine if the car is a potential candidate for a good deal and worth taking the time to arrange an in person inspection with the seller. You could literally spend a lifetime looking at overpriced and unreliable cars when searching for a good deal.

Identify sellers who are serious about selling their used car. A descriptive and detailed ad will tell you that this car owner is serious about selling the car and understands what information is needed in order to actually consider pursuing the car further. A used car ad should tell you the following information:


-Year of the car
-Make and model of the car
-The mileage currently on the car
-Engine size
-Transmission type (standard or automatic)
-The current mechanical condition
-Previous maintenance and repair history
-Location of the car
-Certifications & emission test information
-Asking price
-Telephone number

Avoid wasting time by skipping poorly written car ads. Ads that include less information than this are a time waster. If you are very interested in the car, or you suspect that the car might be a good deal despite the lack of information available in the ad, you can elect to pursue the car further by contacting the seller via email or telephone.

The only real downside of chasing the seller around for more information is that you can easily find a never ending supply of used cars for sale with non descriptive ads. You are better advised to spend your time pursuing the used cars for sale in which the current owner has made a concerted effort to provide you with the pertinent details about the car already.

Used car ads that have some information but lack certain critical information like the amount of mileage the car has are likely a waste of time also. Any person who posts an ad for a used car without the mileage of the vehicle is either trying to hide something or is simply not serious about selling the car. The vehicle mileage is one, if not the most important feature of a used car and should be included in every used car ad. A great all around car with very low mileage is worth a lot of money. A great all around car with very high mileage is basically worth nothing. In almost every case where a somewhat descriptive ad for a used car exists where they do not specify mileage you will find that the car has high mileage. This is especially true with used cars being sold by dealerships as they specialize in promoting the good aspects of the car while neglecting to mention the negative aspects of the car.

Local classified newspaper ads are a great location to begin your search for a used car. Most small and local publications will have the classified section available online in addition to being in print, however many of these local publications charge for placing ads. This can help to eliminate some of the less serious sellers from testing the waters with an asking price well above the actual value of the car.

If you are going to shop from free online classified ads for a used car you will need to become very discerning about which vehicles you pursue to avoid wasting your time. Shopping from local paid classifieds that are listed online will be the best of both worlds as they are quick and easy to navigate while discouraging to sellers not motivated to sell their car.

The most popular location for used car ads is currently available online. Just ten years ago local newspapers and simply “driving around” were the best ways to shop for used cars. Now you can find hundreds of used car ads every day on online resources and classified websites like craigslist, kijiji and various buy / sell publications.

Any person who has ever sifted through the craigslist used car section knows just how much garbage is floating around on the internet. Since you can post an ad for completely free in seconds from the comfort of your own home there are many cars for sale which are well overpriced. Additionally to the convenience of these selling mediums, the fact that the ads are free encourages people to post cars for sale when they are really only testing the waters so to speak.

Free online classified car ads can be a waste of time. If you had to pay to post an ad to sell your car you would probably take more time to write the ad and determine the actual value of the car before trying to sell it. For this reason, and more, online classifieds require additional scrutiny over more traditional methods of used car shopping.

The best used deals come from motivated sellers so try to locate used car classifieds which require payment in order to place an ad. This alone will weed out the vast majority of overpriced cars being sold half heartedly by people. This will allow you to dial in on the cars which are being sold by eager sellers who are willing to part with a little money if it helps facilitate the vehicle being gone. If you can find a seller that really needs to be rid of their old car, the likelihood of getting a good deal dramatically increases.

It is not uncommon to buy a car from someone who has already bought a new car. These used car sellers are especially susceptible to low-ball offers to take the car off their hands. By contacting sellers who appear to be in a hurry to sell their used car you can increase your chances of finding someone who will take a low offer.

When you call a seller you are evaluating them not just the car. In addition to the ad itself, you can learn a great deal about a used car by speaking with the person selling the car. It takes absolutely no technical skill to be able to evaluate the motivations of a person selling a used car, however this is one of the most important things that you can do increase the likelihood of finding a good deal on a used car while mitigating the risk of buying a lemon.

You can tell how eager someone is to sell their used car by simply asking them if they are open to offers. The ideal situation is to have the seller reveal that they will accept offers as they need to get rid of the car quickly.

Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica 2015

Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica

Rate Comparisons for 2015

Car rental in Costa Rica is an opportunity to explore the remote beaches and quiet corners of this breathtakingly beautiful country. Travel without the restrictions set by public transport timetables and with freedom over group tours. For the unprepared traveler; however, car rental costs and services can be a rude shock and a blow to that vacation budget.

Renting a vehicle for your vacation will probably be the most expensive part of your budget, so understanding the terms and managing expectations is very important. The information below is not meant to be an exhaustive manual, but it should set you on the path towards an informed decision for your car rental needs in Costa Rica.

Why is car rental so expensive?

Visitors from outside of Costa Rica are often surprised by the cost of car rental. While hotel rooms, restaurant bills and tours are lower than the prices paid at home, it may appear strange that car rental should be more costly.

There are two simple reasons for this high cost:

  1. All vehicles in Costa Rica are imported and a tax is imposed. Due to this heavy taxation, the cost of purchasing a vehicle is higher than it would be in other industrialized countries. There are some car rental operators who rent older vehicles in order to reduce their costs.
  2. The cost of mandatory insurance (see below).

Factors that Affect Car Rental Costs

Mandatory Insurance

Third-party insurance, which may be known as TPI, PDW (Partial Damage Waiver), SLI (Supplementary Liability Insurance) and other acronyms, is a legal requirement. Car rental operators must charge the customer for this coverage which may or may not be clear in the quotation received by the customer.

The insurance itself is not the issue. After all, many other countries require car renters to pay a mandatory insurance; including: New Zealand, Italy and Mexico, as well as a number of the U.S. states, like California. The issue that causes contention in Costa Rica is that this cost is not always displayed clearly on the car rental operator’s website or in a quote. Customers then discover the additional cost of their rental upon arrival.

The cost of mandatory insurance varies from company to company and will depend on the car category that is being rented as well. The cost for a small sedan may be as little as $12 per day, whereas a premium 4×4 vehicle could be as much as $25 for insurance per day. This is in addition to the rental cost.

Credit cards in North America usually offer car insurance as an additional perk to the credit card holder and so North Americans in particular, are unused to having to pay for insurance on top of rental costs. However, no credit card will cover this insurance requirement.

Do ask if the given quote includes third-party insurance and check the prices on the car rental operator’s website.

Collision Damage Waiver

This is not insurance, but a waiver. The basic level will come with a deductible that varies, but could be as much as $1,500. For a higher daily rate, a zero deductible CDW may be purchased to relieve the renter of any financial responsibility in case of damage to, or theft thereof, the vehicle.

Many renters will obtain their CDW through their credit card. However, it is worth noting that the responsibility for making any insurance claim is on the customer and not with the car rental operator. Some renters may choose to purchase additional in-house coverage to avoid having this responsibility.

There will be car rental agencies which hard sell their own coverage plans through guaranteeing peace of mind, but ultimately, this is the renter’s decision. It is worth remembering that car rental company employees, like in other parts of the world, will sometimes earn commission for insurance sales.

If the customer’s credit card does not provide CDW, the customer will be required to purchase this in-house coverage.

Car rental operators require written proof that the customer’s credit card provides CDW. Ask the car rental operator for the exact details of what they require and in what form. Some may accept a forwarded email from the credit card company, but others may ask for a printed copy to be presented at the time of rental.

Deposit

The deposit amount required will depend on whether the customer chooses to use the car rental operator’s in-house CDW or takes this coverage through a credit card. Expect to pay a much higher deposit if the in-house CDW is declined. The deposit may also depend on car model rented. This amount, which will be held on the renter’s credit card until the end of the rental period, can be from $750 up to as much as $3,500. The deposit should take no more than five days to be refunded to the credit card on the vehicle’s return. Some car rental agencies will accept debit cards for deposit hold, but the return time for this amount can take weeks.

Do ensure that the deposit is calculated in the vacation budget as an unexpected hold of a few thousand dollars on a credit card could otherwise severely cut into vacation spending.

Airport Taxes

Customers that rent from a car rental operator’s counter within an airport building are obliged to pay the airport tax.

Those car rental operators with a counter at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) are: Alamo/National, Budget, Dollar, Economy and Hertz. These companies will add an additional 12% tax to the rental cost.

Those car rental operators with a counter at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) are: Avis, Budget and Economy. These companies will add an additional 3% tax to the rental cost.

To avoid this tax, take an airport shuttle with the car rental operator to an office located outside of the airport grounds.

Surcharges and Other Taxes

There are a number of other obligatory fees that car rental operators may add into the rental cost, display on-screen or show in the quote, or leave undisclosed until the customer’s arrival. These potentially hidden costs may seem small when viewed individually, but these are typically daily rates, so they will add up fast!

These may include:

License Plate Fee: Less than $2 daily, but differs from company to company.

Environmental Tax: Less than $1 daily.

Sales Tax: All sales transactions in Costa Rica are subjected to a 12% government-imposed sales tax.

Car Washing Fee: Bring back an exceptionally dirty car and the cleaning fee may be added onto the final payment. One car rental operator charges $20 for this additional service.

Fuel Charges: If the fuel tank is not filled to the same level as it was at the start of the rental period, then the car rental company will charge (usually to the nearest eighth of a tank). This charge is dictated by the car rental operator and it is not subject to the governmentally set fuel price that would be found at any gas station.

Where Should I Reserve the Vehicle?

A common confusion for travelers booking a rental car is the discrepancy between international websites for car rental operators and the Costa Rican website for the same brand. Frequently the international websites are unaware of, or fail to disclose, insurances, taxes and surcharges that will be charged at the counter. This may be due to the fact that many recognized car rental operator brands in Costa Rica are not a foreign branch of the branded car rental operator, but instead are a franchise operation. This factor is also worth considering in terms of expectations concerning customer service and other finer details. The Costa Rican franchise office may have their own style of operating, apart from the same policies and guidelines that the customer may have experienced in other parts of the world.

Understandably then, an online reservation is best made through the local website and not the international site, wherever possible. A number of companies do not have a local website. In this case, do check the details with a local staff member via the telephone and ask for written confirmation of the quote. Experience with live chat on the international websites suggests that whereas staff is trained on terms and conditions governing the main office (usually U.S.A.); they understand little of the policies that must be adhered to in Costa Rica.

Car Rental Comparisons

In May/June of 2013, I compared the pricing and services of a number of car rental operators in Costa Rica and published the findings. To my surprise, the article is still being plagiarized regularly across the Internet which suggests that it is still useful and so an update was required. The prices for this comparison were obtained in December 2014 and January 2015.

The ICT (Costa Rican Institute of Tourism) states that there are thirty registered car rental operators with eight others pending approval. However, there are many more agencies that rent cars to visitors. The car rental operators selected are those which are most frequently used by travelers:

Adobe

Alamo

Avis

Budget

Dollar

Economy

Fox

Hertz

National

Payless

Service

Thrifty

Toyota

USave

Vamos

Wild Rider

Exclusion of Companies from Final Comparison

Budget, Economy, Payless, and Toyota were contacted, but these four companies did not provide accurate online rates. Economy and Budget’s websites have one price, regardless of the dates entered and customers need to reserve a vehicle in order for them to honor the price shown. Toyota’s website was unfortunately only working up until March. Beyond that, the pricing displayed $0 for the remainder of the year. Payless has this disclaimer on their website: “Taxes and surcharges are not within our control and may change without notice.”

Sending individual inquiries for each time period resulted in inconsistent results: Budget offered the same price for all three investigated time periods when receiving an email request, which is highly unlikely; Economy responded with different quotes for the same dates from different members of staff; and Toyota’s emailed quotes for time periods past March’s prices indicated online did not correspond to the March rates quoted (perhaps the emailed quotes contained taxes that were not shown online). Payless can provide quotes via email and telephone, but were not consistent with pricing for different seasons.

Avis is only excluded from the price comparison, as they do not have an intermediate SUV category in their fleet.

Comparison Information

Car rental rate, all taxes and surcharges, and third-party insurance costs are (supposedly) calculated and ranked accordingly below based on the week’s rental of a BeGo or similar intermediate 4×4 from a San Jose/Alajuela location (not from the airport).

Rates are calculated on a weekly basis and divided by seven to provide a daily cost which is more easily comparable. As not all pricing is completely transparent, the prices are as accurate as possible based on the information provided from the car rental operators’ websites, phone calls, and/or emails. Airport taxes are not included in these figures.

Shoulder Season (Quote for July 13 through 20)

1. USave $43.37

2. Service $54.92

3. Fox $55.64

4. Hertz $58.17

5. Adobe $60.13

6. Alamo $60.99

7. Wild Rider $62.86

8. Dollar $63.35

9. Vamos $64.15

10. National $67.04

11. Thrifty $74.39

Low Season (Quote for May 13 through 20)

1. National $37.04

2. USave $43.37

3. Dollar $46.49

4. Adobe $52.57

5. Vamos $53.15

6. Service $53.49

7. Hertz $54.59

8. Fox $55.64

9. Wild Rider $55.71

10. Alamo $60.99

11. Thrifty $74.39

High Season (Quote for March 13 through 20)

1. Dollar $55.92

2. USave $56.22

3. Hertz $56.37

4. Fox $59.36

5. Thrifty $64.69

6. Service $66.63

7. Vamos $67.14

8. Alamo $69.56

9. Wild Rider $70.00

10. Adobe $70.63

11. National $73.90

Summary of Comparison

Interestingly, there is not one clear expensive or cheap company from those compared. The variation in ranking between seasons is marked and customers should consider their vacation dates when choosing the car rental operator. For example, Thrifty appears as the most costly for both low and shoulder season, but are only in fourth position in the rankings for High Season.

It is also significant that pricing is not consistent with ranking with car rental operators in other car categories. For example, Vamos’ pricing is the cheapest for a premium vehicle in the shoulder season; although they are not first in any rankings for the intermediate category and Adobe which appears competitive are the most expensive for this time period and car category.

Information on Car Rental Operators

Adobe Rent-A-Car is a local car rental operator that has eleven offices across the country. The website is simple and easy to use with no apparent hidden costs. The mandatory insurance cost is displayed as part of the online quote. The company receives mixed reviews online, but more positive than negative comments are made. Emails receive a reply within 24 hours, but may not fully answer the questions asked.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-855-861-1250

Child Seat: $3/day

Booster: $1/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $9/day

Alamo works in partnership with National and has thirteen offices across the country. As with many big names, Alamo Costa Rica is a franchise and not a branch of Alamo itself. Third-party insurance and basic CDW are included in the online quotation, although the CDW may be refused upon presentation of proof of coverage through the customer’s credit card. This makes the pricing seem high on first glance, especially when, unlike other car rental operators, Alamo includes airport taxes in their online quotation and so their pricing is honest, but appears much higher than other companies as a result. Pricing is different on the international website of the company, although the terms and conditions do state the fees that will be paid on arrival. This pricing discrepancy is the lead cause of negative reviews for this company. Emails are responded to within 24 hours.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-855-533-1196

Child Seat: $3/day

Additional Driver: $6/day

GPS System: $12/day

Avis’ website obliges one to select a car protection option, but it fails to display a final quotation total or price for the coverage selected online until an emailed quote is sent. Coverage costs may be obtained by clicking on the option ‘Protections Explained’ at the bottom of the screen.

No Toll-Free Phone Number

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $9.99/day

Budget has a website that is easy to use, but the pricing given is as the same for all seasons, suggesting that it is not correct. Email responses were normally fast, but some were left unanswered. Emailed quotes showed the same pricing for all seasons as the website did. Mandatory insurance is not included on the online quote, but the small print states that this is payable at the counter. Budget receives mixed online reviews.

No Toll-Free Phone Number, but Live Chat is offered

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $14.99/day

Dollar appears to have very competitive rates, but airport taxes will be applied if the vehicle is being collected from the airport’s counters. One may find this in their terms and conditions, but not in their online quotes. Car washing charge is enforced for very dirty vehicles. There are four offices in Liberia and San Jose. Email response is within 24 hours. Dollar receives mixed reviews from online travel forums.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-877-767-8651

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $9/day

Economy has twelve offices around the country. They have no Costa Rican website. Scroll down on their page to find and click on insurance costs. Airport taxes are not included in the quote. Emails receive either a quick response or no response at all. Economy has the worst online reputation of any big name car rental operator in Costa Rica.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-877-326-7368

Child Seat: $10/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $15/day

Fox works in partnership with USave. Offices are located at both international airports. Emails receive a response within 24 hours. Online reviews are generally poor.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-225-4369

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day (unless spouse)

GPS System: $9.99/day

Hertz has six offices in the country. Reservations may be made through a Costa Rican website. Initial online quote does not include sales taxes, but it does include the CDW — although CDW may be waived with proof of credit card coverage. Emails receive a response within 24 hours. Mediocre reviews on travel forums.

No Toll-Free Phone Number

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $13/day

GPS System: $12/day

National works in partnership with Alamo and has thirty offices in operation across the country. The company has a Central American website, as well as the international site, which clearly shows the breakdown of pricing. CDW is included in the online quote, but it may be unchecked to get a quote with just the mandatory insurance. Note that the airport tax is included in the online quote as well. Instant responses to questions are available through Live Chat on their website. Reviews are mixed, but there are more positive than negative.

Free Phone Call Option Via Website

Child Seat: $6/day

Booster: $6/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $12/day

Payless is part of the international car rental company and has no Costa Rican website. Online quotes do not include third-party insurance, although the information on this may be found by reading the policies for the San Jose location. Emails receive a response in less than 24 hours, but tend to refer back to the website, rather than new information. Reviews are more negative than positive.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-PAYLESS

Child Seat: $5/day

Booster: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $9.95/day

Service is a local company with five offices in the country. On an otherwise clear website, click on ‘Reserve Now’ and not ‘Get a Quote’ for an online price check. Rember is the staff member mentioned in reviews on travel forum for his helpful customer service and the company generally gets good reviews. Emails are answered within 24 hours and normally provide requested information.

U.S. Phone Number: 1-305-897-3718

Child Seat: $3.50/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $7.50/day

Thrifty does not have a local website, thus information is through the international website. Coverage options or information regarding third-party insurance is not provided on the reservation webpage until one clicks ‘Protection Information’. Emails receive a response within 24 hours, but may not answer location-specific questions. Reviews are frequently negative due to pricing complaints.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-344-1705

Child Seat: $5/day

Booster: $5/day

Additional Driver: $12/day

GPS System: $11.99/day

Toyota is a big name; however, even though their website appears professional at first glance, it simply does not work, or at least it was not functioning in order to obtain quotations later than March 2015. Their online quotes do not include sales taxes. Emails receive fast responses, but quotes for different seasons appeared to be contradictory. However, Toyota has a good reputation on travel forums. Eight offices are located across the country.

Free Phone Call Option Via Website

Child Seat: $5/day

Cooler: $1.50/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $10/day

USave works in partnership with Fox and has three office locations. Insurance options are shown for the online quote, but it must be selected and ‘recalculate’ pressed, before it is included in the pricing. Emails receive a response within 24 hours. The company receive overall poor reviews, although there are some positive comments made on travel forums.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-467-3659

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $9.95/day

Vamos is a local company that is a popular choice for Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet experts because of their customer service and pricing. The website is easy to use with itemized charges clearly displayed. The Live Chat option enables instant personalized quotes and answers from English-speaking staff. The company has three offices.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-950-8426

Child Seat: free

Booster: free

Additional Driver: free

GPS System: $8/day

Wild Rider is a small, local company located only in San Jose. The website is simple with third-party insurance included in the pricing. At the start of this research, the pricing was not up to date, but this has since been remedied. This car rental operator stands out by having only positive reviews and so is highly recommended by travel forum users. Owner, Thorsten, replies within the hour to inquiries during office hours.

U.S. Phone Number: 1-917-477-7712

Child Seat: $5/day

GPS System: $8/day

Overall Summary

Clarity

Adobe, Alamo, National, Service, Vamos, and Wild Rider provide clear and complete rates on their websites. The other car rental operators were less transparent with surcharges or taxes, such as airport taxes or sales taxes. Pricing on additional extras were not always easy to find, and Avis, Thrifty and Toyota had to be contacted for these details.

Communication

Levels of communication have improved since the first comparison, although it would seem wise to request a local number and confirm answers with the Costa Rica office of the international car rental operators, as international chat operators or those replying to emails, do not always seem 100% confident about local policies and may even give incorrect information.

Be prepared to exchange a number of emails in order to get full answers to questions with a number of companies: Budget and Economy were particularly prone to this — requesting a lot of information in order to give a quotation. It is not unreasonable that members of staff working in a second language may miss aspects of an email, so present questions in clear and simple language.

Live Chat on both the Budget and Vamos websites mean information can be provided instantly and is still documented, unlike a phone call.

Pricing

The comparison above shows that the pricing between companies depends heavily on the season and car category being considered, rather than a clear cut choice between more or less expensive rental rates.

Customers need to consider the pricing of other items, such as additional drivers or GPS system, and families will want to compare car seat rental pricing. Wild Rider offers the first additional driver for free, Vamos do not charge for any extras, except the GPS, and in general, the international firms have higher charges for these extras than the local companies.

So Who Do I Rent From?

It is clear that the local car rental operators are still trumping the big names in their transparency and customer service when comparing their websites and online reviews. The difference from the previous rate comparison from a couple of years ago is that the pricing has become more difficult to equate.

Adobe, Alamo, and National seem to rate well as international car rental operators. It is worth noting that National is the most expensive in high season for the intermediate category, yet the cheapest in low season. Adobe and Alamo are middle-ranked for pricing.

Wild Rider is exceptional in having zero bad reviews, but is only based in San Jose and has a much smaller fleet of vehicles. Of the other local firms, Service and Vamos come out well and Vamos’ free additional extras will appeal to budget-minded travelers and families with young children. Service also offers these extras at low daily rates.

Last but Certainly not Least…

If you have made it all the way through this article, then you are prepared to begin your research into your vacation car rental, armed with facts and ready to recognize those prices that are just too good to be true! Have a wonderful (and affordable) vacation in beautiful Costa Rica!

Car Auctions in Japan: An Overview for Car Importers

Car importers know that car auctions in Japan are a great place to find low mileage, high quality used cars at good prices. My aim in this article is to help you understand these car auctions in Japan better so that you can make a good, informed decision about whether to buy from them or not, and how the whole process works.

Why consider buying from Japanese car auctions?

This is a good place to start. After all, right now where you sit reading this article is probably many thousands of miles away from Japan. So why would you want to import cars from a country so far away?

There are two excellent reasons to consider buying cars from used car auctions in Japan.

First of all, the selection is immense and you can view all these cars remotely online. Auto auctions outside Japan may typically have a few hundred used vehicles, but only the tiniest auction in Japan would have such a pitiful selection.

In terms of individual auction locations, we are usually talking about over 1,000 cars per location, and sometimes over 10,000 cars (in the case of USS Tokyo) all in one place and being auctioned there weekly. Put all these individual car auctions together on the Internet, and over 30,000 on a single day is really not at all unusual.

So there is a huge breadth of choice. But that is not all. There is also a great depth of quality. The fact is that Japanese people just do not drive as much as people in other countries. An excellent public transport system and high levels of neighborhood walkability, in addition to the simple fact that urban driving speeds in Japan are incredibly low, all works together to keep people from using their cars very much.

Then on top of this the Japanese are fastidious in caring for their vehicles and yet it does not take long before the car they have seems old to them and they want a new one.

So, cars that are low mileage and well maintained are a dime a dozen. But the ironic thing is that the Japanese themselves are really not into secondhand items, so they don’t really want these used cars for themselves.

You can see where this is going: The car auctions in Japan have a great selection of great condition, low kilometer cars, but the Japanese people are really not that interested in buying them, so prices are relatively low and there is all the more opportunity for buyers from outside Japan to compete.

Car auction groups and locations in Japan

In Japan individual auctions are rare. They are usually part of a larger auction group. Here are just some of the more prominent groups:

  • USS
  • TAA (Toyota)
  • Honda
  • JU
  • JAA
  • CAA

USS Tokyo is the largest single used car auction location in Japan. This car auction runs once a week on Thursdays, and at peak season can have up to 20,000 vehicles all being auctioned on one day.

One auction group that does not have multiple auction locations (called kaijo in Japanese) is Aucnet, who hold their auctions on Mondays. Their model is a little different in that they do not have a physical auction house where all the cars are gathered.

Instead, they send out inspectors to car dealers who then keep their cars on their lots until they are sold. Since these dealers are still hoping to sell to a regular consumer at retail price, their reserve price at auction is often a little high compared with what a similar car might fetch at a regular auction.

How can you access the car auctions in Japan?

So far, so good. But wait a minute: How on earth are you going to be able to get a car from some used car auction way over there in Japan? You don’t know anyone there. You don’t speak Japanese. Even if you could buy the car, how would you ship it?

You need a Japanese car exporter to help you with this one.

Car exporters in Japan are set up to handle the process of bidding at the Japanese car auctions, transporting the car from the auction to the port, doing the paperwork and shipping the car over to you.

There are many car exporters shipping used vehicles from Japan, so this then begs the question of how you find yourself a good one. After all, we are not talking about trivial sums of money here, so it is vital you find one who is going to do a good job for you.

Here are some things to look for:

  • How many auctions can you buy from, and can you access them all from one place online?
  • Can you deal with a native English speaker who is also fluent in Japanese? (Nothing is more stressful than trying to overcome language barriers.)
  • Does this exporter offer professional translations of the car auction inspector’s reports and help you really understand the condition of the cars in the auction?
  • Does the exporter in Japan have good communication skills, keeping you in the loop about what is happening with your vehicles so you don’t worry?
  • Does the exporter work hard to ensure your cars get to you from the car auction in Japan as quickly as possible?

Who will bid for you at these car auctions in Japan?

In order to buy from a car auction in Japan, the first thing you need is to be a member of that auction.

This usually entails being a registered business in Japan as well as having property as collateral and having a guarantor. This precludes regular consumers accessing these car auctions directly, so they tend to be a place where Japanese car dealers and Japanese car exporters buy at wholesale prices.

Japanese car exporters are usually registered Japanese companies and therefore have access to the car auctions in Japan.

Japanese car auction vehicle inspections

Car auctions in Japan have a strict inspection regime. Obviously the quality of the inspection can vary a little between auction houses since they are independent companies, but in general the grading system they use is very similar and easy to understand.

The cars and other vehicles are registered for the following week’s auction, after which they are inspected by inspectors who are qualified mechanics.

Now, it is important to bear in mind that these inspections are very thorough, but they do not involve any dismantling of the vehicle, nor do they involve test-driving it. They will often pick up mechanical issues very well, although problems which would only come to light if the vehicle is driven at anything more than the kind of speed you would expect in a parking lot can be missed. This is no fault of the inspectors, just a limitation of an inspection that does not involve a road test.

The inspector writes his report on an auction sheet. He gives the car an overall grading as well as a grading of the interior quality. He also writes details of issues that he has found. Some comments he writes in Japanese, and then issues like scratches and dents that relate to the car’s exterior condition, he writes on the “car map” – a diagram of the exterior of the car.

Remember you should not need to just rely on the overall grading when buying from Japanese car auctions: A good car exporter should give you detailed translations and help you understand what the Japanese car auction inspector has written on his report.

How does bidding work in these car auctions in Japan?

As we have noted above, only members of these auto auctions can actually bid. They do so in two ways: Either at the auction location (kaijo) itself, or online from anywhere.

The computer bidding system is the same whether bidding at the auction house on one of their machines or remotely online.

Bidding is very fast. Generally a car will be sold in anything from 10 to 45 seconds or so. The actual process may just look like pressing a button in a video game, but there is a real art to doing it right to avoid paying too much for a car – or equally letting it get away by holding back too much.

Sometimes cars will fail to meet their reserve price and bidding is stopped. It is then possible to make offers to the seller under the auspices of the car auction. Fewer cars sell in negotiation like this than are sold in live bidding. A good Japanese car exporter will handle the process of live bidding and negotiation seamlessly to get the best deals for his customers.

What happens after the car is won at auction?

After a car is bought at a Japanese car auction, the first thing that happens is that it is moved by car transporter to the port. Once at the port, the car waits to be loaded onto a RORO ship, or waits to be loaded into a container.

While the car is in transit from the auction, the car exporter will immediately start looking for bookings on the earliest ship, as well as doing paperwork to de-register the car and pass it through Japan-side customs.

Once on a ship, the car will take anything from a few days to over a month to reach its destination. This is mainly dependent on the distance of the destination country from Japan.

The car exporter will send the end customer the Bill of Lading, invoices, the de-registration document and any other documents that the customer requires for importing the car into his or her country. These import regulations vary from country to country so it is vital to check them before buying anything.

Conclusion

Car auctions in Japan can be a great place for car dealers and car importers around the world to find really good quality used vehicles at lower prices than they would expect to be able to find locally. The huge numbers of used cars in the Japanese car auctions that can be viewed online is another great plus.

The key to doing this successfully is to find a top-notch Japanese car exporter who both can communicate well, and also steer you safely through the process of buying from the car auctions in Japan.

Using A Car Buying Agent Or Car Broker To Buy Your Next Car

The world of car retailing is changing, and it means good news for car buyers. The traditional way of buying a car from a dealer’s showroom has been around forever, and it’s a game where the playing field is tilted heavily in the dealer’s favour. The dealer knows all of the numbers involved much better than the buyer, and so knows exactly where margins can be increased and reduced to maximise their profits while still appearing to provide a good deal.

It’s a bit like a casino; the punters at the tables may have a few individual wins here and there, but overall the house always wins. Buying a car from a dealer is similar, in that you might get them to drop the car’s price slightly or throw in some extras, but they get it all back again on the finance package or the other extras you hadn’t realised you even needed (but were convinced by the salesman that they were absolutely essential).

The internet has gone some way to helping buyers, in that you can easily check prices from several different dealerships all over the country. But that’s still only a starting point; a dealer will often be happy to cut the price on a car if they can make it up elsewhere, and it becomes very difficult to stay on top of the negotiations when you have a new car, your part-exchange (trade-in), finance, insurance, options and accessories all making up the final numbers. The dealer is expert at juggling all these balls at once, and they know exactly how much they are making from each part of the overall deal. The customer, usually, is completely in the dark as to how much of a deal they are really getting.

More and more car buyers are now turning to a car buying agent or car broker to help them manage their car purchasing. Here the buyer gets to play on a level field with the dealer, as the car buying agent or car broker usually has the same knowledge and expertise as the dealer to be able to negotiate on every aspect of the deal to the advantage of the buyer.

The other advantage of using a car broker or car buying agent is that it saves you an enormous amount of time. Researching cars and trekking all over town to visit dealerships, getting quotes from different dealers on different models and comparing all the information is a tremendously laborious exercise. A car buying agent or car broker can take car of all the running around and allow you to concentrate on your job or enjoy your recreational time.

So what exactly does a car buying agent or a car broker do?

Let’s explain the difference between a car buying agent and a car broker.

With a car broker, you provide as much detail as you can about the car you are looking for, and the broker sources a vehicle which matches your desired specification as closely as possible.

A car buying agent offers a more comprehensive overall service, usually involving specific advice and recommendations on choosing a car and its specification to suit your needs, as well as the sourcing of the chosen vehicle. If you are not sure on the best sort of car for your needs, a car buying agent’s advice can be far more valuable than the savings he or she may be able to get from the dealer. Choosing a more suitable car can be worth a considerable saving over your whole ownership period, even if the deal on the car’s price is not as significant. Many people have bought a car completely unsuitable for their needs, and using a car broker won’t prevent that. A good car buying agent, however, will help you ensure that you are choosing a car which will do everything you need for as long as you own it.

Fees

Brokers and agents make their money from either a fee charged to the client for their service, and/or a payment or commission from the dealer. This is an important point for you as a buyer; if your broker is being paid by a dealer, they are ultimately working for the dealer rather than for you, meaning they may not be acting in your best interests to secure the best car available at the best price possible.

To ensure that your agent is acting in your best interests and not the dealer’s, you should always look for a car buying agent or car broker who has a clear fee structure and does not take payments or commissions from the selling dealer. The fees should be clearly explained, easily understandable, and relate to the service provided. If a broker advertises their services as being free, then it almost certainly means they are being paid a commission or ‘finder’s fee’ by the dealership. If an agent or broker offers their advice as free, it is unlikely to be a properly detailed and analytical report which covers every aspect of your driving needs.

A car broker will normally charge a fee based on the value of the car they are sourcing. If this is the case, you should be clearly aware of their fee structure before you commence – for example, if the relevant price threshold on their fee structure is £30,000, then a car costing £30,001 may mean a much larger fee for the broker than a car costing £29,999.

Some agents or brokers will charge a flat fee for their services, and some may charge a fee based on the level of discount they achieve from the advertised price. This means that the more money you save, the more they will make and gives you some reassurance that they are acting in your best interests.

With a car buying agent, there will normally be a fee for their advice and expertise, and a separate fee for sourcing a vehicle. Again, you should be aware of how their pricing works, but don’t be put off by the idea of paying for expert advice as it may save you thousands in the long term. You may even use a car buying agent for advice on choosing a car but handle the purchase yourself. This is often the case with company car drivers, who have leasing arrangements in place at their workplace but don’t know which car to lease.

In summary, a car broker or car buying agent can make the process of buying a car much more appealing and advantageous to the average consumer, saving considerable time and potentially a lot of money.

Buying a Used Car? Sixteen Tips on How to Keep From Getting Ripped Off

Do you want to buy a quality used car but are afraid of getting ripped off?

You’re not alone, and for good reason. Used car sales are far and away the most lucrative segment in the auto industry in terms of commissions that the sales people and dealership makes and therefore, the GREED factor comes in when selling cars is concerned. The potential for being taken advantage of increases for the unwary and uninformed car buyer.

Having said that, there are still quite a few honest, credible used car dealerships out there and if you are prepared with some of the tips in this article, then you can drive off with a nice, clean used car AND a good deal.

There are TWO basic types of Used Car Dealerships you need to know how to differentiate between the two.

1. Your garden variety of used car dealerships that most towns and cities have almost everywhere. These dealerships, generally sell cars bought at local auctions or were higher mileage cars bought form a local dealership, or taken as trade-ins on their lot. Generally speaking, you won’t find the latest models with the lowest miles and still under warranty. What you CAN find are clean reliable cars, maybe with higher miles that you wouldn’t find at a brand dealership, but often lower prices. The typical used car dealership has nowhere near the overhead of major dealerships so, their gross profit margin – the difference in costs they have in a car and what they can sell it for — can be lower, thus, ideally, saving you some money.

Most of the better used car dealerships offer financing and warranties for all their cars at an extra cost, of course. Some, but not most have a place to service their cars before putting the car on their lot. You need to make sure whatever car you are looking at has at least had an updated inspection.

Used car dealerships can be a great place to find a good car, BUT, be careful, some of the cars can be rough around the edges and you need to know what to look for and how to look at a used car.

2. Your automobile dealerships that sell new and used cars. Usually, these dealerships keep a selection of what they like to refer to as “pre owned” or even “certified pre-owned” vehicles and they usually spend more time on the prep of the car before it goes on the lot. They have a shop and certified technicians to go over these cars and make sure these cars are in good shape. Especially the Certified Pre Owned cars need to look and run close like new. All of this does, of course make the Brand Dealership Used cars priced on the higher end. Be ready to haggle!

Buying a used car or “pre-owned” car can make a lot of sense regardless of where you buy one.

Any new car will drop 25 – 40% once it drives off the lot. In this day and age of better cars and cars lasting over 100k miles, used cars, especially almost any Japanese car, can last to well over 200k miles and you get an even better price. Again, make sure the Car Fax checks out!

BIG MYTH: “When you buy a used car, you’re buying someone else’s problem”Not necessarily so. Many used cars are lease turn ins. Many used cars the owners simply out grew the car or, like so many people on the road, they just like to trade cars often and change cars like underwear!

Following are some tips on how to maneuver through the sometimes shark infested waters of used car dealerships.

1. Know what you want. Or at least, have an idea. Do you want an economy car? A luxury sedan? An SUV? You will find a good selection on some of the many Used Car lots that dot our landscapes. A good way to shop discreetly is to shop online. Compare similar models and makes.

Check Consumer Reports for Best Used Car deals or the Kelly Blue Book online.

2. What will it cost? Once you have an idea of what you want, get an idea of what it would cost. The most popular and the oldest service is Kelly Blue Book. At KBB, you can select practically any model, make and year of vehicle and get a “good-better-best” price, depending on the vehicle condition and various features. With KBB, you can get a general idea of pricing or even narrow it down to specific features. For instance, if that cool sports sedan you’ve spotted at a lot has leather upholstery and alloy rims vs. cloth seats and wheel covers, then you’ll pay more for the leather and rims. Also, you MUST know what the mileage on the car you are interested in. Cars with over 100,000 miles automatically drop in price compared to similar cars with under 100k miles.

3. Get a Car Fax report! A Car Fax report provides the detailed history of practically any vehicle on the road today.. To do this you need to accurately write down the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

A Car Fax report will tell you a LOT! It will tell you important stuff like: Has the car been wrecked? Total loss? Has the car been in a flood? Are there any recalls? Has the air bag ever been deployed? Has this car been “salvaged”? Has the car been inspected annually? How many owners and where? If the car you are interested in has been through several owners, that could be a red flag so pay attention to the number of owners in the past.

These are important things to know before even taking a test drive! You can get the Car Fax yourself, or ask the dealer to present you with a recent Car Fax Report.

NOTE: Any good used car dealer ship will likely have one on file and gladly show it to you.

IF this dealer Fancy Dances around this issue, then move on!

4. Visually Inspect the Car yourself! Walk around it and look at the fit and finish. Not all wrecked cars will be reported, but if you see uneven spaces between the doors, and hood and fender, then watch out! Check for “over spray”. If the car was repainted, it may not show up on a Car Fax either. Look around the black moldings, and exterior fittings like headlights, door handles, etc. If you see “over spray” it likely means the car has been repainted. Now, for a car older than 10 years it could be perfectly reasonable to have a re-paint. Just try and find out who and where the work was done.

5. Look Under the hood. Even if you are clueless at what you are looking at, do this anyway. Is the engine clean? Is there mud on the inner sides? What do the battery cables look like? Clean or corrosion built up? Not good if the engine area is not spotless and had a good steam cleaning.

6. Check the oil and all the other fluid levels. This seems obvious, but still, you want to know if the oil has been changed and the fluids – brake and transmission — are topped off. If any of these levels are low – RED FLAG!

7. Inspect the tire tread. A method for checking tread depth is to insert a penny in one of the grooves with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of old Abe’s head, it is time to replace your tires and make sure the dealer knows this is a concern. At the bargaining table, you may get a new set of tires!

8. Inspect the wiper blades. Normal wear and tear on wiper blades are common, but if you are buying this car from a dealership of any kind, you should have fresh wiper blades.

Once you’re satisfied that the car you are looking at is worth of your attention, THEN and ONLY then take if for a test drive!

Next step Test Drive!9. The salesman may or may not give you some BS about him driving the car off the lot and down the street some distance to switch for “insurance” reasons. Not true! They want to keep as much control over the process as possible that’s all.

There are several things to look and listen for when starting out:

10. Start the engine with the window down so you can HEAR and SEE what its like.

Is the muffler quiet? Is there smoke blowing out?

11. Assuming you are in an automatic, move the transmission back and forth between the gears,

“P”, “D”, “R”, “N” etc… does if shift easily? What does it sound like when you put it into the drive gear? If there is a CLANK sound, look out, could be trouble!

12. If it’s a manual drive, make sure the gears shift easily from one gear to the next. Test the clutch.

Is there a lot of “play” when you press down before the clutch catches? If there is “play” then the clutch could be worn.

13. Driving. First, get into an open stretch and accelerate as fast as possible. Is the acceleration smooth? Does it hesitate or halt or stop? Not good!

14. BreakingNext, apply the brakes firmly but don’t slam on the brakes. Does the car swerve to the left or right? If so, could be alignment problems. Not good! How far does the brake pedal go before engaging? If a lot, then the car may need brake work. If it goes to the floor, then you have real brake problems.

15. Interior Controls.Does the Air Conditioning work and blow cold? Is the heater working? How’s the stereo?

Do the power windows roll up? Do the crank windows roll up easily?

Do the locks work? Make sure you take the time to learn about the interior aspects of your potential next car.

16. Take the car for a good drive! Have fun! Crank up the stereo! Bring along a CD to play!

Drive in traffic as well as on an Interstate Highway if possible. Listen for any unusual noises or loudness. Accelerate and brake frequently to test the car’s responsiveness.

Okay, you took the Test Drive, you think you love the car, now what?

Make sure you have paid attention to steps 1, 2 and 3. Demand a Car Fax report. Always seriously pour over the report as if you were preparing your Last Will and Testament.

NEVER let the sales person know you are totally thrilled with the car or in any way desperate for a car. This opens up an opportunity to be taken advantage of.

Also, if you want to trade your old ride for a new one, NEVER tell the dealership you intend to trade up front because this can skew the numbers you are being offered. You ALWAYS want to know what the car will cost BEFORE the trade!

It goes without saying you need to be ready to walk away from any deal you are offered. If it smells fishy, it probably is! DO NOT let your emotions get the best of you! There’s always as good or better car out there with your name on it!

In summary, be like the Boy Scouts whose motto is: “Be Prepared” and you will likely find a good car you can live with for several years or more.

Autocross Buying Guide – Select the Right Car

In my experience, autocross can be a very fun and exciting sport. I have participated in several events in my local area. I found the hobby to be very addictive as well.

Out of all my other hobbies, I think this one is the best “bang for the buck” as far as thrills go with your car. Everybody can participate. Every car (some clubs have exceptions to this though like no SUV’s, no Trucks) can race. The nice thing about this kind of race is that you are competing against others in your class usually defined by the SCCA, however, you are on the course alone so there is minimal chance of hitting other cars.

The hardest part about autocross (aside from learning how to race) in my opinion is finding the right car. Sure, you can use a daily driver, but that is not recommended if you are going to participate in several events a year. Autocross can create wear on the tires and other components very quickly and can get expensive very fast. I would recommend to get a vehicle that you can use for autocross. This can be a “trailer car” or a car that you can still drive on the road, but use only for this hobby.

There are 4 key components to consider when selecting a car for autocross:

1) What type of car to get
2) The Price of the car
3) The overall condition of the vehicle (if used)
4) Aftermarket upgrades/modifications

WHAT TYPE OF CAR TO GET FOR AUTOCROSS:

For autocross racing, some people would assume that the car has to be very powerful, small, 2 doors and modified. This is not entirely accurate. While that type of car would be nice, it is not required to be competitive in autocross.

Remember that most autocross events and clubs have the cars grouped in to some sort of class. The club I participate with follow the SCCA Class guidelines. The classes help group the cars so the same “level” of vehicles can remain competitive within each class.

This is done to avoid the “biggest and fastest is best” state of thought. It would be unfair to put a heavily modified Porsche GT3 up against a stock Ford Focus. This is why they do that.

So, to pick the right car for autocross, you would probably want a coupe or convertible FIRST if possible. Sedans can work well too, but some sedans are not geared for modifications, although, the sport sedans of today are really starting to take over.

Manual transmission would be recommended, however, if you have an automatic that is OK too. You may want to consider trading it for a manual in the future to remain competitive. Again, there are still “sport shift” type automatics out there that are getting better and better each day.

Ideally, you would also want a rear-wheel drive car for autocross. RWD cars typically provide better control and handling in most cases. I know some enthusiasts out there will disagree with me, but that’s OK. On the other hand, I have used several front-wheel drive cars that run with the best of them.

PRICE:

The price of buying a car for autocross is always the factor for me. I, like many others, cannot afford an expensive vehicle for autocross. There are, however, those that can afford it and price is still something for them to consider.

The $0-$5000 range:

This is the range most of us beginners want to start. Of course, free is GOOD, but consider the 3rd component (overall condition) when this option comes to mind. Several cars that can perform well and have a lot of upgradable options are the following:

1989-1997 Mazda Miata – Very nice power to weight ratio. It is VERY popular at autocross. 1979-1991 Mazda RX7 – Fast small car, handles well. Many upgrades available. 1989-1998 Nissan 240sx – Several aftermarket upgrades, handles very well. 1990-1999 BMW 3 Series – Very versatile car. You can find very nice models in this range now. 1988-2000 Honda Civic/CRX – I have seen several models compete well in autocross. 1984-1999 Toyota MR2 – Low center of gravity, great performance, mid engine. 1990-1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon – Many upgrades, some models Turbo AWD. 2000-2007 Ford Focus – Very competitive cars. SVT models available in price range. 1997-2003 VW Golf – Hatchbacks always like autocross. VR6 models available in range. 1990-1999 Acura Integra – Like the Civic, very competitive with many upgrades out there.

There may be a few more cars that I missed that fall under this price range. The method I use to hunt for cars can vary depending on the type I am looking for. I will use local classified ads, Craigslist. I will also use the bigger car searches and expand my general “hunting” area. I have successfully found great cars using VEHIX, AutoTrader as well as Government Auction Sites.

But what about the autocross cars above the $5000 range? Well, I am glad you are think that because I am about to list them below.

If you have some money to work with and want to get something newer, you can consider the following cars:

The $5,001-$20,000 range:

This range can include newer cars as well as pre-owned cars that are no more than a few years old. Remember, cars usually depreciate very fast, so as the years go by, some of the newer cars can be within reach for less money and are great for autocross. The cars below come to mind in this range:

1998-Current Mazda MX-5 – Still same basic car, but more power as they got newer. 2003-Current VW Golf – Even more modified than the previous versions, compete well. 1992-1997 Mazda RX7 – 3rd Gen is twin-turbo and can compete in autocross. 1992-2006 BMW M3 – M3’s are designed for racing. Some newer models will fall in this range. 1998-2003 BMW M5 – M5’s are very powerful and compete in their class well. 1994-Current Ford Mustang/Cobra – Very versatile car. Competes well in class. 1994-2002 Camaro/Firebird – Competes well in class. Many autocross upgrades. 2007-Current Mazda Mazdaspeed3 – Turbo, hatchback, competes well in autocross. 2003-2008 Nissan 350z – Great autocross car, very popular on the track. Special Autocross Kit cars such as the V6 Stalker fall in this range as well.

Now, this price range can vary in vehicles. A lot of these cars are still new and may require loans to purchase them.

The $20,001 spectrum will consist of some of the current-day models as well as the obvious “super cars” we all respect such as the Corvette, Viper, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and others. I will not include a list for those because if you are buying one of those for an autocross car, you did your research.

OVERALL CONDITION OF THE VEHICLE (USED):

When buying a second car for autocross, treat it like when you are buying your daily driver car. You want the car to be relatively free of major problems. Autocross racing can put stress on the car’s frame, the suspension, the brakes, the tire and the overall body of the car.

You want to be sure that the car has not been in any major accidents. Frame repair or frame damage can be very dangerous mixture when you autocross. That is the MOST important thing to check for when buying a car for autocross. I have experienced and used the service by Experian called AutoCheck. They offer an unlimited number of VIN checks for one of their service options and the price is way better than the other services out there. I have used it when shopping and comes in very handy when you are checking the history of a vehicle.

The next important item to check on the car is major component problems such as smoke coming out of the back of the exhaust, major oil leaks (small leaks are expected on most used cars) slight/major overheating of the engine. Autocross is outside and you push the car to the limit. You want the major components to be in the best shape they can be. The mentioned problems can leave you stranded at the track if you do not look out for them.

I usually have some expectation to do minor repair or preventive repairs on my vehicles when I am buying to autocross them. As I stated above, small oil/fluid leaks are “OK” and can usually be fixed very easily. Small leaks tell us that the car is just used and may not be suffering from the leak as a result. Large/major leaks tell us the car may have been neglected by the previous owner and may carry residual problems unseen at the moment. When looking at a car, start it up, drive it around with the A/C engaged (even if it doesn’t work). When you are finished with the test drive, leave it idling while you walk around the car continuing to inspect it. If the car has an overheating problem, often this is the time it will show. This tip has helped me avoid several beautiful autocross cars that had an overheating problem.

Belts and hoses are my most frequent “preventive” repair I do, even if they are not a problem. It is always best to know when an important component has been replaced rather than to “guess” and trust the previous owner. Water pumps, too, fall in this category sometimes.

One thing people always check when buying a used car are the tires. Yes, this is important for an autocross car, but not to see how “good” the tires are, but to see if the car needs an alignment. Autocross is about handling and you need to be sure the car’s stock “handling” ability is where it should be.

Why not worry about the tires? Well, tires should be one thing to consider buying for your autocross car to begin with, so the existing tires should be removed anyway. Tires are probably the most bought wear item an autocross member will buy. A lot of autocross racers will bring a set of tires for racing, one for driving home (those who do not use a trailer) and some will even bring spares for the racing tires. This is so common that Tire Rack offers tires just for autocross. I have used them and they are the best place to get tires for this.

AFTERMARKET MODIFICATIONS FOR AUTOCROSS:

If you ever look into the aftermarket world of the auto industry, you know that there are literally thousands of places to look and buy. I will list a few spots that most people do not think to look, but surprisingly have things for the autocross fans.

First and foremost, autocross cars do NOT always need major upgrades to be competitive. A driver can use a stock vehicle and compete against fellow stock vehicles and remain competitive. Once you start to modify or upgrade heavily, you may start to move into different classes and compete with other cars that are equally modified. Keep that in mind when you want to change something.

Usually, I say modify the easy things first: Intake, exhaust and general tune ups. Most autocross drivers do not go far from that. These should be the first things you try to upgrade while you participate in autocross to get the most performance out of your vehicle.

If you decide to go further to be more competitive, my next recommendation would be suspension and body roll modifications. Please remember, certain upgrades in this area may change your class. Be sure to check your club or groups rules with these modifications.

Usually, the fastest upgrade to an autocross car would be front and rear strut tower bars/braces. They are usually inexpensive to buy and easy to install. They are also very modular meaning that when you buy these, they will work with other suspension components in place (usually). This modification helps stiffen the car’s suspension and frame and helps with cornering.

The next modification recommendation would then be the front and rear sway bars and links. These parts also help the body roll while cornering and handling and can sometimes be modular to the suspension system as a whole.

The final suspension upgrade is usually the most expensive: The struts (shocks/springs). This upgrade usually works well with the above items, but ads more stiffness, more response to the handling and sometimes lower the car overall for a lower center of gravity.

Once you have modified the entire suspension, my next recommendation would be to upgrade the brakes (at least the pads). This will help your stopping ability for those moments where a tap of the brake is needed during a lap. Please keep in mind that high performance brake pads usually wear much quicker than OEM.

One of the last things I recommend to upgrade is the tires. Now, I’m not saying that you should not FIRST buy new tires when you autocross, but I am saying not to UPGRADE them to an autocross/race tire just yet. Most autocross enthusiasts will tell you to get used to the stock/regular tires on your car first.

Once you get used to stock type tires, modifying them to a race tire or softer tire will actually improve your lap times (that’s the theory anyway).

One last note. I recommend replacing the fluids in your car with as many synthetics as you can. Synthetic fluids have higher heat resistance and can take the intense moments you will be putting on the car during the autocross laps.

Easy Steps: How to Find Good Used Cars and Avoid The Lemon

I work in the auto industry and a question i am asked over and over by friends and family is:

“Whats the best way to go about finding good used cars?”

Many of us chose to buy used cars. It can make a lot of sense. As you know new cars can lose up to 30% of their value in the first 2 years. If you end up needing to sell that new car too soon you will have wasted all that money.

The only problem is that buying used cars can be a mine field of errors. You need to know your stuff. You also need sharp wits and to understand the pitfalls. The truth is that we are not all mechanics and we don’t all have the eye for knowing the bad from the good used car.

Today I will share some steps and tricks that will improve the chances of you making a sound choice. There is a lot to know about used cars, but with the following ideas, you will be well on your way.

Why Buy Good Used Cars?

Take advantage of the depreciation. When you buy a used car, that is a few years old, you have saved yourself the 20%-30% value loss on that car. Someone else has paid that for you. You have reduced the risk of burring yourself in that car financially. If for some reason you need to sell the car again sooner then planned, you will be in a far better position.

Take your pick! When you buy used, there are many different things that can effect price. You will have way more options in terms of model, brand, age, mileage. You have the option of buying a car that you normally could not afford if it was brand new off the car lot. You can really set any budget and shop with in that budget. You could literally spend $2,000 or $200,000 on a used car. Every city is ripe with a vast selection of used cars in good condition.

Something new in the used car department each day. The used car market is always changing. It means that there are always different cars to find and choose from. Most Victoria dealers will have fresh inventory each month. Often you can find the new inventory right at home with your computer. There are also tonnes of private sales listed each day.

Should You Buy Used Cars Privately Or From A Dealer?

There are advantages in choosing to work with a dealer, as well as a private owner.

Private sale used car advantages:

You can sometimes find great deals in the private sale listing. With some patience and time, online you can find the good deals. Many sellers online are doing it because they are under the gun and need the cash fast.

Often, private owners are not as aggressive when it comes to talking about numbers and the process. Private owners will allow you to take things at your own pace. Most car salesmen will try and move you to make a choice as soon as they can. This unneeded pressure can be avoided by finding a reliable salesmen or staying in the private market.

Dealer Advantages:

You can save a ton of time if you go to a Used Car Dealer. They will have way more selection in one place. As much as we don’t like the sales process, one thing it does is save time. The key is finding a reliable sales person. One who actually cares about you. Talking to someone about what kind of car you need, then driving, and then talking about numbers all in one day means you can rule a car in or out with in a few hours.

Used car dealer in many areas must declare auto Dec’s. They will have documents such as a Car Proof or Car Fax and safety inspections on hand. These are valuable documents that many private sellers overlook. They are hard proof of a vehicles history.

Private Used Car Disadvantage

Most people sell a car in private so they can get as much for it as possible. If they didn’t care about getting the most they could then they would have sold it to a dealer. Most people will shop privately because they feel they can get a better deal then if they went to a dealer. In most cases, private car shoppers and private car sellers, are further apart on price then car dealers and car shoppers. Often private sellers are far more emotionally attached to their car then dealer is and have a inflated idea of its value.

Dealer Disadvantage

Very often dealers will have extra costs attached to the sale of a used car. They will also want you to purchase extra warranties and products. Many of these products may not suit your life or needs. Be mindful of what you are signing for. Don’t be afraid to ask early what the extra fees will be and what they are for. Many of the products are of use in curtain situations. Once you have listened to and understood what the extras are, make a rational choice as to whether you need them or not.

How to pick the right car.

Car Proof or Car Fax! Do not buy a used ca, private or at a dealer, unless you have read the Car Proof/Car Fax. The Car Proof, is a history report that will tell you if the car has been repaired due to collisions. It will also let you know if it was an x-rental, x-lease or has been registered out of the province. It will also give an overview of some of the major maintenance work and were it was done. This document is a must for buying used vehicles. Most dealers will have one available.

If you are shopping privately and the owner does not have one. Tell the owner that you won’t buy unless a car proof is provided.

  1. Look under the car. Get down and a little dirty. Check under the vehicle for rust. Rust is a killer. Look at the shocks, and in the engine compartment as well.
  2. Open up the hood. Most used car dealers will have cleaned the engine very well. There are still signs you can find. Look for leeks, rust, and wear and tear. Start the car with the hood open. When the engine is cold it will reveal the most. Get out again and look at the engine while it is running. Listen for squeaks, whines, ticking and other odd sounds.
  3. Inspect the inside well. Use your nose. Sniff and sniff some more. Often strong perfumes, and fresheners will be used if the car had mold, dogs, and smokers.
  4. Lift the floor mats and check for moisture. Also check the spare tire compartment. Again, look for rust and moisture in these spots.
  5. Take it for a drive. Before you get going to fast, put the car in neutral and give it some gas. Keep an eye on the mirrors and what comes out the back. You don’t want to see big plumes of smoke.
  6. The drive should cover different roads. Highways, back roads, some bumps as well. When its safe, let go of the wheel on a straight road. See if the steering is aligned. Over bumps, listen for squeaking and other noises.
  7. When you get back, park over a clean section of the lot/driveway. Then turn the car off. This is when you will look over some of the paper work. After about 15 minutes go back to the car and look under the engine. See if there are any wet marks on the driveway or lot. After the car has been running any leaks will start to drip. If they do. Don’t buy the car.

At this point you should know if the car is in the running or not. Most reputable Car Dealers will have done an inspection of the car. You should have access to the report. Look over it and see if everything checks out. If its a private sale and you like the car, now would be a good time to schedule a third party inspection.

One final note, TRUST YOUR GUT!. If you have done the steps listed you should have a solid idea weather the car you are looking at is in good running shape.

Don’t be afraid to drag a friend along. Someone you know will be very objective about the whole thing. They can give some feed back and their opinion. Let them know that all you want is their impression of the car, not whether you should buy it or not.

There are tonnes of other steps, tricks and tips that I did not cover. If you have any ideas to add, please do in the comment section. Any thing you could add so save someone from buying the dreaded lemon will help.

I hope this instill your confidence to get out there and start looking for that good used car.