⭐ Common pitfalls when buying a used car

BIGGEST issue with car listing sites:

Prices are fake.

Scummy dealers will advertise a low price and then add $1000s in 'fees' at the time of sale.

How to spot a dealership that doesn’t recondition its cars:

Auction stickers still on windshields.


PSA: Buy that warranty for your car.

The financial breakeven point is 2 claims on average. No brainer. Important caveat: I’m only referring to Used cars. Can’t speak for New. The economics are really simple: Average cost to the dealer: ~$1,000 Average mark-up: ~$1,000 and Average claim: $1,100 So after 2 claims, you're in-the-money.

ANOTHER caveat is that there are good warranty companies and bad ones. Your likelihood of doing business with a good one is higher if you buy your car from a reputable retailer.

Buying a German car?

Get a pre-purchase inspection.

They are NOTORIOUS for oil leaks.

MOST problematic used cars:

  • Range Rover
  • Jaguar
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Mercedes
  • Volvo

LEAST problematic used cars:

  • Honda
  • Toyota
  • Tesla

How to burn loads of money:

Buy a German car that’s out of warranty.

Never fails.

How you can detect a car with rolled-back miles:

  • The car was a former lease
  • It has no service records

This is a dead-giveaway.

When buying a car...

Take a look at the color of the exhaust smoke:

  1. Blue smoke = Car is burning oil
  2. Black smoke = Car is burning fuel
  3. Heavy white smoke = Gasket leaking
  4. Thin white smoke = Normal

Is it better to buy a used car from that specific brand’s dealership?

No, it doesn't make any difference,

Unless you're buying a Certified Pre-Owned.

In order to qualify for CPO, OEMs require dealers to recondition their used cars to a very specific standard.

And every OEM holds its franchisees to a different standard. Regardless, there may still be no difference between buying a CPO


Buying the same car from a reputable used dealership.

I know many used car dealerships that recondition all of their cars to CPO standards.

If not higher.

For anyone who has troubled credit:

When buying a car,

You never have to buy any ancillary products with your purchase.

Not a warranty. Not insurance.

It’s always optional.

If a dealer tells you otherwise, run.

When test-driving a used car:

Make sure the radio is turned off.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to hear any abnormal engine or suspension noises.

How to easily spot a sloppy dealership:

Front-line cars not parked in a straight line.

Never fails.

Cheapest Car:

There’s something sketchy about the cheapest car on a used car listing site.

You’ve been warned.

Carfax inaccuracies:

Carfax reports contain many inaccuracies.

Use the report as a reference, but always do your own diligence.

Check your tires!

When buying a used car,

Always check the inner-facing side of the tires.

Some people will flip dry-rotted tires so that you can't see the exposed cracks.

Too good to be true:

If the price of the car looks too good to be true,

It probably is.

Especially if it's on a 3rd-party car listing site.

High-speed test-drive:

Always take a car for a high-speed test drive (60mph+).

Many transmission issues can only be felt or heard,

When a car hits the 5th or 6th gear.

Common mistake when buying a used car:

Not testing the brakes and rotors at high-speed.

Worn-out brakes and rotors tend to pulsate intensely.

You will feel it in your steering wheel or brake pedal.

Best season for buying a car:

Buy a used car: Late Q4

Buy a new car: Early Q1

  • COVID-related supply-chain disruptions are the once-in-a-decade exception.

Never buy a car on a Saturday:

Here’s why -

  1. Showroom is packed
  2. Fresh inventory is already sold
  3. Salespeople less inclined to fight for your deal

Buying a car in the rain:




Buy a car when it’s raining.

You won’t be able to properly inspect the exterior body and paintwork.

And will wake up to surprises the next day.

Warm-engine trick

If a dealer shows you a used car turned on and warmed up,


Faulty-engine noises typically go away after a vehicle warms up.

Always ask to try a cold-start yourself,

Ideally after a vehicle has been turned off for at least 24 hrs.

Get your trade-in appraised *before* negotiating the price of a car.

Many dealers will advertise below-market retail prices, Only to make up the margin by paying you less for your trade-in.

Welcome to the Car Buyer Cheatsheet
Welcome to the Car Buyer Cheatsheet