Maricopa Auto Fair @ Ak-Chin Circle - 16000 N Maricopa Rd. - Maricopa, AZ 85139


  • Why Buy Used?
  • Which Car is Right for You?
  • Research Your Prospective Car
  • How Much Can you Afford?
  • Financing your Used Car
  • Test Drive the Vehicle  (checklist)
  • Negotiating and Finalizing the Deal (Paperwork required for Massachusetts RMV)

Why Buy Used?

If you've decided to buy a used car, you've already made a smart decision. You can get a car that's almost as good as a brand-new one without paying for the depreciation that wallops new car buyers as soon as they drive the car off the lot. Even cars that are only a year old are 20-30 percent cheaper than brand-new cars.

But there are other good reasons to buy a used car:

  • You'll save money on insurance.
  • Bigger bargains are possible for the smart used car shopper.
  • Some used cars are still under the factory warranty.
  • The history of a used car can easily be traced using the vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • If you buy from a private party, the negotiation process is less stressful.

What Car is Right For You?

If you examine your needs rather than wants, you will quickly discover what the right car is for you. Take a moment to think about what you use your car for. How many people do you need to transport? What type of driving do you do most often? How long is your commute? Is it important that your next vehicle get good gas mileage?

In too many cases people choose a car for its styling or because it is a trendy favorite. If you do, you might either exceed your budget or have to go car shopping again soon. Let your needs, not your wants, drive your decision. Here are a few other questions to keep in mind when you begin your car-buying process:

Do you want a manual or automatic transmission?
Do you need four-wheel drive? Or two-wheel drive?
What safety features do you want?
Do you require a lot of cargo capacity?
Will you be doing any towing?
Do you have a bad back and need flexible seating positions?
Will the car easily fit in your garage or parking space?

Research Your Prospective Car

You will much of the information you need to make an educated decision about what to buy on sites like used car pages. The major topics are accessed by clicking the links to the left of the screen that list such information as prices, standard features, specs and safety, warranties, consumer discussions, photos and video and resale values.

A helpful feature is "Car Ratings" which evaluates the different components of the vehicle. You can also read reviews of the car by current owners.

One last vital step to getting a great used car deal: Make sure you run a vehicle history report on any used car you are considering buying. Several companies sell these reports, which are based on the VIN, but AutoCheck and Carfax seem to be the most comprehensive.  These reports can reveal vital information about the used car, including whether it has a salvage title (it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company) or if the odometer has been rolled back. 

Used car shopping will involve inspecting the vehicle to determine its condition. You can accomplish it easily by asking to take the vehicle for an inspection by your favorite auto dealer.

Most new cars are sold with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Therefore, if you buy a car that is from 1-3 years old, with fewer than 36,000 miles on the odometer, it will still be under the factory warranty.

How Much Can You Afford?

The smart shopper will consider how to finance the car at the beginning of the shopping process. This will avoid unpleasant surprises later on and help you make an informed decision that fits your budget.

Monthly payment — If you are going to take out a loan, how much can you afford to pay each month?

Down payment — How much cash can you put down to reduce your monthly payments?

Purchase price of the car — Answering the first two questions will help you determine a realistic price range for your used car.

Once you've determined how much you can spend for a down payment, a monthly payment and the purchase price of the car, print out these figures. Later, when you are negotiating for a used car, you might need to check this information.

Financing Your Used Car

You have two ways to pay for your used car when you buy from a private party:

Cash. Need we say more? Money talks — you-know-what walks.

Financing through a bank, online lender or credit union — We highly recommend this route because it will usually save money and give you the most control over the transaction.

Financing through an independent source (online lender, bank or credit union) offers several advantages:

  • Keeps negotiations simple when you deal with the seller
  • Allows you to shop competitive interest rates ahead of time
  • Encourages you to stick to your budgeted amount
  • Low-interest loans can be arranged online through many sources, such as

Test Drive The Vehicle

Test-driving a used car helps you decide if it is the right car for you and also if this particular car is in good condition. Once you get behind the wheel, ask yourself if it is a good fit. Does it offer enough headroom? Legroom? Are the gauges and controls conveniently positioned?

Try to arrange your test-drive so that you start the engine when it is completely cold. Some cars are harder to start when they are dead cold and, when doing so, will reveal chronic problems. Turn off the radio before you begin driving — you want to hear the engine and concentrate on the driving experience.

On the test-drive, evaluate these additional points:

  • Acceleration from a stop
  • Visibility (Check for blind spots)
  • Engine noise
  • Passing acceleration (Does it downshift quickly and smoothly?)
  • Hill-climbing power
  • Braking
  • Cornering
  • Suspension (How does it ride?)
  • Rattles and squeaks
  • Cargo space

Take your time and be sure to simulate the conditions of your normal driving patterns. If you do a lot of highway driving, be sure to go on the highway and take the car up to 65 mph. If you go into the mountains, test the car on a steep slope. You don't want to find out — after you've bought the car — that it doesn't perform as needed.

After the test-drive, ask the owner for the service records. See if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time. Avoid buying a car that has been in a serious accident or has had major repairs such as transmission rebuilds, valve jobs or engine overhauls.

If you like the way the car drives, you should still take it to a mechanic for a thorough inspection. A private party will probably allow you to do this without much resistance, whereas at a dealership, it might be more difficult.

Negotiating and Finalizing The Deal

Successful negotiation comes from having solid information. This is particularly true when buying a used car. Before beginning negotiations you should look up the TMV price or the Kelly Blue Book price and print out the figures.

Private parties do not have the same negotiating experience and training when compared to a dealer. Therefore, buying a used car from a dealer or a private party will be two very different experiences.  Private parties tend to be much more accommodating, so you do NOT have to use dealer tactics such as those described below:

  • Only enter into negotiations with a salesperson with whom you feel comfortable.
  • Make an opening offer that is low, but in the ballpark.
  • Decide ahead of time how high you will go and leave when your limit's reached.
  • Walk out — this is your strongest negotiating tool.
  • Be patient — plan to spend an hour negotiating in a dealership, less for private parties.
  • Leave the dealership if you get tired or hungry.
  • Don't be distracted by pitches for related items such as extended warranties or anti-theft devices.
  • A "closer" (a high-pressure salesman) may try to improve the deal before you reach a final price.

Once you have a deal, make sure the transaction is completed properly.  After payment is made, you must obtain from the seller:

  • An assigned title. It must include an odometer reading, the seller's printed name and signature, your printed name and signature, date of sale and the purchase price.

  • Bill of Sale.  If there's no room on the title to include price, you'll need a bill of sale from the seller with the following information: your name, address and signature; the buyer's name, address and signature; purchase price; date of sale; and the vehicle's make, model, year and identification number.

After the sale has been completed, the seller will have to remove the license plates from the vehicle. The license plates stay with the seller, not the vehicle. The seller has 30 days to transfer those plates to another vehicle registered to him, or to apply for a plate refund.

Best of luck, and we hope you enjoyed the experience at our Auto Fair!