Used Car Shopping


So, Ana needs a car. She passed her driving test the other day and now has a California's Learner's Permit and we need to get her a car in which to learn. I think it'll be too expensive to go buy a new car, so I'm trying to figure out what the best way to buy a used car without much fuss. I haven't bought many used cars - as soon as I was able to get a loan for a new car once I got out of college I've done that. No worries, no mechanical problems, etc.

My parents, however, have never bought a new car. I'm not sure what their deal is, but they're philosophically opposed to the idea I guess. That means we never had new cars growing up and means I've spent more than my fair share of time on the side of a road some where waiting for AAA to arrive for a tow. This is an experience I'd rather my son Alex skip if I can help it.

The main problem is my car's a manual transmission. Even though she grew up in Europe, Ana can't drive it confidently. The car I bought was in the front of the new car lot a year or so ago - the one that was $4,000 cheaper than the ones in the back because it wasn't automatic and didn't have auto windows, etc. That was fine when I was buying *everything* for the move to the U.S. and needed something big and cheap. Thank god we got the VUE by the way - I used it originally to move everything into the old apartment, and I've used it again to get more stuff for this house. I knew I was going to be hauling lots of crud when I got it, but wow, has it come in useful. That said, I'm thinking I might trade it in for another car (an automatic) so that both of us can drive it.

Anyways, now I'm looking for a used car. I would much rather walk into a Saturn Dealership and just walk out with a car, no negotiation, no worries about the car falling apart on me, no registration hassles or smog checks, etc. Hmm. Maybe I'll try to swing this anyways (I obviously want to). I've been checking the online sites like CraigsList, Yahoo Autos,, etc. I'm not sure which is the best way to get a used car. Whether I should look online or whether I should just go down to a dealership and see what they have on the lot. I'm not really sure how to begin. There are so many options.

Maybe there's a "buying a used car for dummies" book out there...


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