When selling a personal vehicle, I like to post a listing on Craigslist. It is an easy and free way to advertise your vehicle to local people. With a few steps, I can post pictures of my car with a description and asking price. However, I am learning that when you are eager to sell your car, it is easy to be taken advantage of by Craigslist buyer scams.
I have personally experienced three types of online scams:
Is your car still for sale?
This question is usually accompanied by multiple requests to help you sell your car for a small fee. No doubt the fee will be paid and nothing will ever be done.
Ship me the car because I am out of the country.
This one has been out there for a while. The buyer is ready to make a deal but can’t see the vehicle because he is out of the country on business. He requests that you do the transaction online and then ship the car to a designated location. No doubt the payment will be revoked as soon as the car is shipped.
Run this car report and I will buy your car.
The buyer promises to buy the vehicle sight unseen as long as you run a car history report. The link does not go to a reputable company such as carfax but some unknown site. No doubt, the scammer uses your credit card payment for the report to empty your bank account.
Apparently, I am not the only one who has noted these problems. Car Buying Tips and DMV.org also have good articles on what to avoid when selling your car online.
Last week was a bit of a roller coaster for me. As of Wednesday night, I had not sold any cars and it wasn’t looking good. I asked our pastor to pray for me and the small group who met for prayer meeting Wednesday night prayed as well. Thursday was slow as well with no sales until 7 pm. I sold a car then and two more on Friday! As a Christian, I am glad to recognize God’s help in answer to our prayers.
Not every lesson learned is a happy one. I sold the Jaguar and purchased this 1984 Pontiac Fiero 2M4. I enjoyed the car for a few days until the head gasket blew Saturday. Thankfully our mechanic was on duty and diagnosed the problem for me. I am still unsure whether fixing the head gasket would really fix the problem. It would probably be better to replace the whole engine. Thankfully, a friend from church is willing to haul the car back to our driveway. We shall see what transpires after that.
The replacement for the Jaguar is a 2002 Mercedes-Benz ML320. It is a nice little vehicle with leather seats, Bluetooth, and working A/C. The latter two are something I’ve not had in my personal vehicle in a long time. Yesterday, we drove the ML to church in Windsor and enjoyed the ride through the country. The vehicle comes with a 215 hp 3.2L V6 and AWD. Both will help during the wintry months in northeast Ohio. As in all things, I’m thankful to God and several people who helped to make this possible.
In this month’s edition of Popular Mechanics, there are several articles about purchasing used cars. One is about the buying process while another shows how to interpret a used car description. And let’s not forget the Used Car Checklist app for iPhones. While it all makes for an interesting read, it is good to know a few other things before stepping onto the lot. For instance, the Ohio State Bar Association says there are several misunderstood questions about buying a used car.
- Does the lemon law apply to used car sales?
- Do I have three days to cancel a contract for a car sale?
- Why did the dealer say my loan was approved but called me back after the delivery to resign the papers?
Do you know the answers to these questions? Even if you think you do, you may want to read the entire article and find out a lawyer’s point of view so that you are not surprised. Click here to read the entire article. You may be glad that you did. Car buying doesn’t need to be difficult but having a little knowledge before visiting the lot can prove to be very helpful.
I am not an expert at advertising. However, I do notice the advertising other people try. For instance, I laugh at the billboards, license plate brackets, and bumper sticker that have so many words that you can’t read them unless you stand right next to them. Simple, clear, and concise are the mantra for most of my ad campaigns. People don’t need to know every detail about you. They need to know only a few things: name, website, and what you sell. That’s all. Advertisements should get your attention not provide every little detail. Put paragraphs on the website. Just make the ad simple and eye-catching. At least that’s the way I see it.
For instance, our dealership’s license plate brackets are fairly simple. The top says LEIKIN and the bottom has www.LeikinMotor.com. Believe it or not, that has been the advertisement that brought in several customers who purchased a car from us. The short URL on the license plate takes people to our hub site which has links to the Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Sprinter websites. It makes a lot more sense than having www.WilloughbyVolvo.com or MercedesBenzofWilloughby.com on the plate frame. Short and sweet works best.
I’d like to follow up last week’s post about using your tax refund money wisely with this one about leasing. Many people think it best to put down a strong downpayment and then purchase their next car. They usually put down a couple thousand dollars and pick out a nice used car with a payment they can afford. But what they might not consider is the maintenance that will be required during the next five years. Depending on the age of the car, the annual maintenance costs might prove to be higher than expected. That’s when leasing begins to make sense.
If you are already planning on putting down a couple thousand dollars as a downpayment for your car loan, why not consider using that toward the lease of a new car? A new car will not require much maintenance compared to a used one. For instance, if you purchased a 2009 car today (2014), it will be 10 years old when you finally pay it off. A leased car would only be three years old at the end of the lease. Besides oil changes and perhaps a pair of tires, your maintenance would be minimal. This is the upside to leasing.
Let’s look at some specifics. If you have $2500 to put toward a car, you could choose from several options:
You could keep driving your current vehicle.
There is nothing wrong with being content with what you have. But at the same time, you need to consider the future expenses involved with keeping your current vehicle maintained (especially if it is a 1990 Jaguar). If you originally bought an inexpensive car, these maintenance costs will escalate as the car grows older. What seems like good stewardship of your money may become the exact opposite as head gaskets, transmission rebuilds, and timing belts come due. But if the car is running well and you can afford to keep it maintained, perhaps the $2500 would be well spent keeping your car in good repair.
You could purchase a $2500 car.
This might be a good option if you have no money in your budget for a car payment. But with an inexpensive car, you often get what you pay for. Expect to have annual maintenance expenses of at least $1200. That’s $100 per month.
You could purchase a newer car.
If you have room in your budget for a $300 monthly payment, you would be able to afford something like this 2009 Volvo S80 with 48k miles and listed at $17,494. With a good credit score you could get a loan like this: 60 x $300 w/ $2500 down with a 4.0% APR (based on 7% sales tax, $250 doc fee, and $33.50 title/registration). That would be a nice car. But consider where you would be in five years if you drive 10,000 miles per year. At that point, the car would have 98,000 miles and you would have brought it to the dealer five times for maintenance (every 10,000 miles) and tires. That expense on top of your monthly payment might make you consider option #4.
You could lease a new car.
Leasing begins to make sense when you consider the cost of maintenance alongside your monthly payment. With a lease, your $2500 would make the payment closer than expected. For instance, Volvo of Willoughby is offering a lease special on a 2014 Volvo S60 T5 retired service loaner with only 4,800 miles on the odometer. You could lease the car with tax included for 36 x $303 (based on 7% sales tax) with $2500 due at delivery if you are fine with 10k miles per year. New Volvos come with Complimentary Factory Scheduled Maintenance for 3 years or 36k miles. That means that every 10,000 miles your scheduled maintenance is done at no charge to you. The only expenses at the end of the lease would be perhaps a set of tires, payment for any significant damage to the car, and a lease turn-in fee (waived if you lease another Volvo). For many people, that takes the hassle out of owning a car.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. All of these options could work for you. However, leasing does have its advantages when you consider the total cost of ownership. If you remember only one thing from this article, remember that your monthly payment and downpayment are not the only costs involved with owning a car. Take into account all the costs of ownership and see what makes the most sense for your budget.