There are fleeting times in my life when I think it would be cool to own a pickup. But then I review one for the side of my life that covers new cars and I'm glad I don't.
Obviously lots of people disagree with me, which is why I wrote an article on 10 tips for buying a used pickup. Based on my experience of those and others, I thought it an article worth sharing.
The usual advice is in there but there's one point pickup owners may strongly disagree on: buying a Japanese pickup. Now I realize that's heresy to fans of the red, white and blue. Think about it, though. The Toyota Tundra is built in Texas. You can't get much more American than that.
By the way, prepare to give up your weekends if you buy a used pickup. Friends you never knew you had are going to come out of the woodwork.
So, I was in Phoenix recently for a new car event and my driver to the airport commented that Arizona was a great place to buy a used RV cheap because lots of widows sold them just to get them out of the driveway.
Well, seniors all over the country are excellent sources of used cars because they are buying so many new cars. Turns out that half of all new-car buyers are going to be over the age of 55 in 2014. That means they're going to be trading in lots of used cars.
And, according to the study I write about in the article, those seniors are likely to take good care of their used cars. Why? They don't look for bargains when it comes to maintenance - they look for convenience. People not focused on cost are more likely to take care of their vehicles.
CarMD is out with its annual look at used car repair costs called the 2014 Vehicle Health Index and it's a good tool for identifying potential problems in a used car you want to buy.
It's full of helpful information. In an article on the Vehicle Health Index I list CarMD's top 5 most common repairs. The list hasn't changed much from year to year but the one that continues to amaze me is loose fuel cap. In other words, one of the most common repairs for a used car is somebody not putting the gas cap on correctly.
That triggers the check engine light to come on, which for most people means bringing their car into a repair shop to get it checked out. Probably the best part is someone tracks just how this repair costs. Are you sitting down? It's 11 cents.
Of course, that's on average, which means some mechanics charge nothing while others charge 25 cents. Make sure you shop around before getting the work done!
It's been said in this space before and it's well worth repeating: Consumer Reports knows a lot about used cars. I would put their knowledge up against anybody who covers cars.
That's why I posted an article about their top used cars. No other organization does a better job evaluating new cars than Consumer Reports.
Heck, they went so far as to erect a building just to objectively test headlights. They used to test them at night but then the results could vary if it was overcast or a full moon. I mean, who else would think of these things? Who else would even evaluate headlights when you think about it?
So, that's why I rely so heavily on Consumer Reports for used car information. Whenever Jake Fisher and his crew say something about a new car, I know it's going to be valuable information for years to come. And, yes, I am both an online and print subscriber to Consumer Reports.
It's a topsy turvy world we live in. Used car sales by dealers are down but certified pre-owned sales continue a meteoric rise.
But what surprised me most in a report by Manheim Consulting on February used car sales, is how old used rental cars are getting. It's kind of like seeing an old flame from high school turn into your mom.
Of course, I have some context for that remark. After high school I worked at a rental car agency. Back then, more than 30 years ago, our rental cars were normally turned in with about 20,000 miles on the odometer if memory serves correctly. (It was three decades ago.)
Now the average rental car coming off-fleet (or being retired) has 42,000 miles on it. That could temper my enthusiasm for buying a used rental car. That puts a lot of them out of warranty or darn near close to it by the time they are sold. Without that built-in protection, I may have to rethink my feelings on the subject.
One of my strengths as an automotive journalist is being comfortable enough in my own skin to admit there are people much better at my craft than I. It helps me aspire to be a better writer.
One of the writers who I would single out for recognition is Steven Lang, who was the influence for a piece on 10 reliable but cheap used cars. I used his excellent research and combined it with some of my own for an informative list that should help you in the search for your next used car.
While you're searching, check out Steven's work at places like Autos Yahoo, or, even better at TheTruthAboutCars.com. His experience as a a car dealer, auto auctioneer, and part-owner of an auto auction give him a unique perspective.
Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's a good writer who knows how to tell an engaging tale. I follow him on Facebook and recommend you should, too. You won't be disappointed in the stories he crafts so well.
It might seem strange to claim the recall of almost a million used Nissans could be a good thing for the consumer but maybe I'm seeing the silver lining in this cloud.
I just published an article on the used Nissan recall that looks at the vehicles covered and what needs to be done so the passenger airbag sensors work properly.
What the article doesn't get into is how this can be an opportunity for a savvy used car buyer. You're probably not going to get much of a price break from a Nissan dealer when it comes time to buy a used Nissan but you can from a private seller.
How so? Well, if the recall work hasn't been done by the time you purchase the car, the owner should knock 5% off the asking price.
Why? Owners who don't heed recall notices typically don't take care of their vehicles, which means they are not in excellent condition. Use that knowledge to get the upper hand in price negotiation.
It's fun to write that headline because used car dealers are an important resource for their communities. They provide (in most cases) reliable transportation for people who can't afford or don't want a new car.
Of course, what's good for the dealer isn't always good for the customer. But in this case, used car profits increasing are a good thing for the used car buyer.
How so? As dealers become more profitable, in my opinion, they're probably more likely to make concessions on different parts of the buying process. It could mean more value for your trade-in or even a price reduction on the used car you want to buy.
Of course, all good news comes with a tarnished lining. Dealer profits are up but so are sub-prime loans. That little tidbit makes me nervous because sub-prime buyers tend to be the most vulnerable. They can be desperate for transportation and willing to pay whatever it takes to get a used car.
I'm not one of those people who mutters, "Why didn't I think of that?" but after hearing about Openbay.com I do have to wonder, "Why didn't somebody else think about that before?"
Openbay is a new website launched in October 2013 that has service facilities bid on your automotive repair work. It's all explained in an article I wrote after talking to its founder Robert Infantino.
Sure, some of you are probably wondering, "Why is the used cars website covering this? It sounds more like an auto repair story." Glad you asked. I wrote about it because of Openbay's potential to help you sell your used car.
One of the most interesting aspects of the website is it will store your maintenance records. So, when it comes time to sell all you have to do is download the records. Voila, you have instant proof that you have a well-serviced used vehicle ready to sell.
Sure beats having to comb through your glove box to find all those records of oil changes and brake jobs.
Compare and contrast, compare and contrast - those were the words that seem to haunt my nightmares from high school English class. Maybe that's why I compare and contrast used pickups and Toyota Prius models.
I looked at both for an article on used pickup and Prius prices. (I'm also a fan of alliteration.) Thanks to some interesting information from Kelley Blue Book, I was able to compare and contrast the two disparate modes of transportation.
Well, the obvious comparison is both models are seeing a softening in prices but the contrast would be the reasons why. Prius models are dropping because buyers are no longer bothered by high gas prices, which themselves are dropping but are still ahead of the Prius price mania of 2011.
The price of used pickups are dropping because of the softening in the new house construction business. Contractors are delaying replacing their older used pickups with newer models.
Compare and contrast in your comments below. I just hope I don't have nightmares about some type of hybrid Prius pickup truck.