Finding a Used Car Can Make You Feel Used – Lowell Sun

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As of this writing, Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine remains a fluid situation and the humanitarian catastrophe is deepening in this country of 44.4 million people.

If you think you have any problems here, they’re probably minimal next to the heartbreak we see there.

Yet Americans continue to feel the pressure at the gas pump, and then there are the cars and the impact of inflation.

When it comes to finding a decent used car or truck in today’s overpriced market, it’s all about high demand and low supply. I was working in my late mother’s old Buick Park Avenue and enjoying the ride – like sitting on a luxury leather couch with wheels. It was a sleek, protective tank with low mileage but quickly consumed gas.

And then came February, my birthday month, and my 2004 relic failed inspection – rust. Otherwise it was in good working order, but I started looking for a replacement.

They were slim choices. I saw a $7,900 2012 Nissan Altima 2.5 online that was fine with me. It was selling at Roy’s Auto Sales in nearby Hudson. The owner, Roy, kindly called me in the evening after hours and explained that the car had been quickly claimed. He said used vehicles go really fast, but unfortunately “there isn’t enough inventory.”

It’s time to rent, said a few friends. “You don’t rack up the miles, so you’re an ideal candidate.”

No thanks, leasing is more expensive in the long run, and I don’t want to be stuck in a two to three year contract with a car payment still hanging over my head. You don’t have to show anything once the deal is done. At least I could sell my used vehicle for some extra cash.

Several years ago, my used Nissan Maxima rusted away, failing inspection. I listed it for sale “as is” on Craigslist and was bombarded with calls. A man from Lawrence asked to pass, saying he was a father of five and desperately needed a car for his son.

“Don’t worry. In Massachusetts, we don’t care about rust. He paid me in eight clean $100 bills and drove off into the night with his teenage son driving the family car in which they had arrived.

I’m the type of driver who hates spending money on vehicles, repairs, etc. I prefer to keep this money for clothes, make-up and other superficial occupations. If I put the key in the ignition and it works, I’m good to go, but that’s the other challenge that can come with buying a used vehicle.

“If you’re only spending a few thousand dollars on, say, a car that’s 20 years old, be prepared to need major repairs at the end. It may not be worth it,” my brother Philip tried to advise me. He is a local businessman in the lawn sprinkler industry, and his travels take him throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts providing service to customers. Philip uses several four-cylinder Toyota Tacoma trucks that have an excellent reputation for longevity.

My brother has owned a lot of vehicles over the years, and for personal use he’s a BMW guy.

I just purchased a used Honda CR-V EX from a young couple who drove it to me from the Claremont area. In my naivety, I blindly bought the (so cute) 2004 SUV on Craigslist. The sales people assured me there were no issues except for the skid plate which fell off when the vehicle hit a snow bank.

My mechanics shook their heads yesterday after driving the CR-V EX for inspection. No, it would take about $1900 in repairs/labor to pass. At this point, I’m in, hoping for the best, and as the old saying goes:

“Dance with the one who brought you.”

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