Believe it or not, sometime during your stay in United States, you will buy a car. You can get away without a car in major cities, but other places, you will need a car.
Till date, I have owned 4 cars and today I’m going to share my first used car buying experience. Along with my roommate we decided to buy a car in my first semester at Grad School. Our used car budged was around $3000.
Decision: Which Car to Buy
When you are getting settled in US, you have to get help from your seniors. From course registration, apartment, shopping, car buying, internet, phone connection, etc you have ask your seniors for help. So, we asked our seniors who had car with them. They gave a list of cars to look and offered to drive us to test drive the car.
Used Car Search
We you decide to buy your first car, you will have all the adrenalin to buy the first car. It’s just the excitement, that you are going to own a car (at least 50% in my case). I was looking for sale car ads at cars.com, eknazar.com to find Toyota, Honda or Nissan.
I created a list based on cars I find within our budget. We didn’t have long distance (STD) calling facility in our land line phone. So, I would wait for my roommates who had cell phone. I would be able to make phone calls and find about the car listed for sale. There are few standard set of questions you have to ask when talking to the seller.
We found few cars and scheduled to test drive them. Then we will ask our friends to drive us to seller’s place to test drive the car. This went on for 3 to 4 weeks before I came across a car listed for $1800. Since our budget was around $3000, I was hesitant to call the seller to check on the car.
But, for that price and condition listed, it seemed to be a good deal. After debating for couple of hours, I decided to call the number listed and he asked us to come and take a look at the car.
Couple of seniors who took us for previous test drives were busy, so we had to call another friend, who was doing PhD in Industrial Engineering. We drove about 25 miles on a Sunday afternoon and we saw the car – green color, clear windows with fends and worn out paint.
We asked our friend to drive the car, since we didn’t’ have driving license yet. Car was in good running condition and we decided to buy the 11 year old car with 102,000 miles on it.
Then we started the negotiation process (car was listed for $1800). Seller is an alumni from the same university and apparently he did his Masters several years back in Industrial Engineering. So, my PhD friend and the seller started talking about the department and professors.
Apparently the seller got a new BMW 5 series and decided to sell this car. We’re like you have brand new BMW and you could give away this $1800 car for free to your cash strapped juniors. So, finally we decided to buy it for $1200. We went a couple of days later with the cash and drove the car.
Returning the Favor
While in college, I went on to help several others with car buying process and got to know which car is the good for various price range and what sort of problems you can expect in the used car.
When my friends used to take us to see and test drive the car, they are paid for the gas (petrol) expense. We went to look at several cars and they never allowed us to pay for the gas. So, I took my juniors to test drive the car, they used to ask the same. But, I have always said, my seniors helped me with car selection and you guys can return the favor, when your juniors come to you for help.
Also, helping juniors doesn’t have to stop here. Take them to walmart, grocery shopping when they don’t have the car. If you see someone walking far from the campus, slow down and ask if they need a ride. Small things like this gives satisfaction to me and of course I just got a brand new friend for life.