Used Car Finder Tips

Read these 5 Used Car Finder Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Car Buying tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Why does the car finder service need my contact information?

Privacy Issues

Some of the online used car finder services require that you give them your e-mail address and telephone number before you can gain access to the vehicle inventory listing. Your contact information is then passed on to the participating dealers that have the type of vehicle you are looking for in stock.

Most of these services allow you to specify your preferred method of contact. If you don't want to get a call in the middle of dinner, you can specify that you only want to be contacted by e-mail. If you don't mind phone calls, you can sometimes specify when you prefer to receive calls.

Should I check the classifieds for a car?

Classified Ads

If you are uncomfortable revealing your contact information to car dealers using an online car finder service, you can always resort to the traditional used car classifieds. Local and regional newspaper print classifieds and display ads are still hugely popular with both dealers and private sellers alike.

If you are selling a used car, placing an ad with your local or regional newspaper may be the best advertising buy for your buck. Most newspapers will not only run your ad in the print version, but will include it in their online classified listings as well.

What are the best sources for online car reviews?

Car Reviews in Print

There are tons of sources for used car reviews available online, at the library, as well as at your local bookstore. J.D. Power & Associates' consumer Web site is one example that is online.

J.D. Power & Associates is a global marketing information firm that conducts independent consumer satisfaction surveys of car owners (as well as other consumer products). For example, if you are considering buying a used Nissan Altima, you can enter that information on the site and you can review, for free, the results of J.D. Power & Associates' consumer satisfaction survey of Nissan Altimas for several years' models.

While many car reviews include technical details, the J.D. Powers & Associates site is one of the few where you can find actual customer satisfaction surveys based on real customers' life experiences with their own cars.

*The site also has an interactive tool called the New Car Advisor in which you set parameters for what type of features you prefer in a vehicle and the tool returns a list of the best matches for you to consider.

How can I tell if a used car ad is worth following up?

Interpreting Used Car Ads

If you're in the market for your first car and you've been trolling the used car listings, keep in mind that there is a fine art to reading them. Unless you are a gearhead who loves listening to Click and Clack every weekend, chances are you'll want to stay away from any car that needs "TLC." TLC, in car repair and maintenance terms, usually means that while the car is drivable, it probably needs hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of work to recondition it.

If an ad says a car has been "well maintained," don't just take it on faith. Ask to see the service records. For more used car buying tips, check out the Federal Citizen Information Center and download for free "Finding the Best Used Car" (a guide published by the National Transportation Safety Administration).

How do I find used cars online?

Online Car Finder Services

The advent of the Internet has really altered the used car buying process. While many people still buy and sell used cars via the classifieds, many more have taken to the information superhighway to track down their next ride. There are many online car finder services, such as, that can help you with your hunt.

Once you find an online car finder service, simply plug in the make and model you're looking for, your zip code, and how far you're willing to travel to a dealership. A virtual smorgasbord of available vehicles will display for you to view. For example, if you're looking for a Honda Element, just enter a few pieces of information and you'll be eyeing a list of available, in-stock Elements, including a variety of information such as color, mileage, options, and dealer.

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Joe Wallace