We finally found a car and seller we could work with. After trolling Craigslist daily and filtering through a lot of crap, and a lot of emails that never got returned, I managed to connect with a guy this past weekend to look at a car. He didn't quibble in the least about meeting in public, the car was cleaned out and in decent shape...
I was exhausted when I met him, so I didn't go through my rather extensive "check it" list when looking at it. But I did hit the high points:
- oil condition
- other fluids (trans, brakes, steering, coolant)
- CV boots not cracked/leaking
- body panels straight, check for signs of painting
- trunk doesn't leak
- tire tread
- test drive: pull/drift, brakes (no pulsing), shifting, cruise control
I remembered to check the power mirrors and A/C and radio. I forgot to check all the power windows, the wipers, and a few of the lights.
I always chat a seller. Sure, people can lie. Some do it well. But I usually trust my BS detector. After nine years of BS by phone, it's pretty well tuned. This guy wasn't selling BS.
It drove well. Real well. The mileage was a touch higher than I'd have liked but not bad. There were a few dings and scuffs - but it's a ten year old car. As we were driving back to the Walmart we'd met at, I said, "Alright, you've got it listed for $4600. I want the car. How much do you really need for it?"
He hemmed and hawed and hesitated.
I glanced at him as he chewed on his lip. "Will you take $4300 for it?" The relief was damn near written on his face. I suspect he might have gone a couple hundred lower, but honestly, I thought it was a fair price - and he did too, as he thought for about three seconds and said, "Sounds good."
I hadn't brought enough cash with me to buy the car (not even close), so I said, "Can I give you a deposit now, and we can connect in the next day or two to finish it up? I've got $200 with me." He agreed. We wrote out a simple receipt, I noted the VIN and license plate, and we nailed down a time to meet the next day.
The next day I withdrew the balance I needed from the bank, called the DMV to double-check paperwork needed, and added the car to our insurance. We met the seller at his bank, signed and notarized the paperwork, and drove off our separate directions.
Tuesday morning MrsZ took care of the safety inspection and registration, and it's done. Ours. It needs a bit of maintenance stuff - new brake pads and probably an alignment - but overall I think we did fine. The car, you say? It couldn't be more boring: A 2004 Toyota Camry LE, white with a tan interior, and 178,000 miles. Good gas mileage, reliable, safe. Total grandparent car.
Kelly's books it at $4,600 in 'good' condition and Edmund's at $3,000. I think Kelly's is much closer, looking at the listings out there.
MrsZ is taking it on a longer-ish road trip soon and will report back.
1 month ago