Used-Car Prices Rise Again, Should Go Even Higher

Buy used or hold on to the car you have?

If you’re in the market for a used car, it’s more important than ever to be prepared and do your research. Prices for used vehicles keep going up, which means the longer you wait to pull the trigger, the more you’ll pay.

That doesn’t mean you should buy a car if you don’t really need it. I have a friend, for instance, who owns a 2004 Honda Pilot with just over 100,000 miles on it. He owns it outright and told me he’s starting to think about trading it in for a newer model. To that I answered, “Why on Earth would you do that?”

The Pilot hasn’t given him an ounce of trouble and fits his young family perfectly, and his wife feels safe driving it in the snow. The only reason he could think of to upgrade is because he wants something newer. For some people, I guess, that’s plenty of reason to justify a new car payment. Heck, the car dealers bank on people like my friend, and if that’s how he wishes to spend his money, well, I can think of worse ways.

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Two More Used Cars for the “Avoid” List

2008 GMC Acadia

When the all-new 2011 GMC Acadia debuted, I didn’t hesitate to recommend it to friends and family in the market for a new SUV. I even considered one for my family before choosing to buy a used Lexus RX 330 instead.

My decision came down to one of longevity. The Lexus had proven itself as an established and reliable model. I hesitated on the Acadia because buying an American car in its first couple model years scared me.

I really want to like the Acadia. I love its looks and am impressed by the interior space it offers. However, I think I made the right choice by not buying one and believe there are better choices for people in the market for a used SUV. Keep reading for why I’d pass on a used Acadia, along with a few other cars that might not be wise buys.

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Super Deal on a Supercar Reminds Us: Be Suspicious When Buying Used

Damaged McLaren MP4-12C

When a car is priced at half its value, be suspicious. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to be suspicious any time you go used car shopping.

We’ve covered the lure of underpriced cars before, from the standpoint of watching out for common online scams. Sometimes, though, the price is accurate, and the car is real. But that doesn’t mean the deal isn’t too good to be true.

From Motor Authority (via, we heard about a killer deal on a used McLaren MP4-12C. The seller of the car, listed for sale in The Netherlands, wants about half of what the car is worth. The catch, as you might have guessed, is that the car has been in an accident and has not been repaired. Would buying it be a good deal, or would someone save money by just buying a new one?

Of course, that depends on the extent of the damage. The front end has obviously been hurt, and the windshield is cracked. Both front airbags have deployed. There’s a possibility of unseen water damage. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance that the buyer of this car would be better off financially buying new.

How easy would it be, though, for the seller of this car to replace the front bumper, install a new windshield and sell it for full price to an unsuspecting buyer? Okay, maybe that wouldn’t be an *easy* process on the McLaren, but it’s certainly feasible, which is why buyers of any used car should always complete the following checklist to make sure no hidden defects lie beneath the surface:

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2012 Ford F-150 Wins Motor Trend Truck of the Year

2012 Ford F-150, Motor Trend Truck of the Year

For the fourth time since 1997, the Ford F-150 has been named the Motor Trend Truck of the Year.

While this year’s model makes a strong argument as the best pickup available on the market, previous Ford winners are still great, and cheaper, options for the truck-buying crowd on a budget.

The impressive list of standard and optional features available on the 2012 F-150 allows buyers to spec their new workhorse in one of 650,000 different ways. Along with the truck’s engineering superiority, general fit and finish, and one unanimous best-engine choice, the judges at Motor Trend were won over by Dearborn’s finest.

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People Still Falling for Easy-to-Spot Car-Buying Scams

Nissan Altima 2.5

Low miles! Only $3,000!

Smart car shoppers know how to spot scams from a mile (or 2,600 miles) away.

Craigslist, once a go-to source for posting used-car classifieds, is riddled with scammers trying to con people out of thousands of dollars. Their ploys are always the same, and the red flags are obvious. Still, due to some serious flaw in human psychology, people fall for the deal they know is too good to be true.

The Detroit News published a nice piece on the issue this week, from which I quote:

Brenda Cullen has a killer deal on Craigslist for a spotless, low-mileage Nissan Altima. But it won’t last.

A job promotion, complete with company car, has left her family with one too many vehicles, so that’s why she’s unloading the Altima for not even a quarter of its true value.

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Going Diesel? Now Is the Best Time to Save on a Used Car

Chevrolet Cruze

Ready for a diesel Cruze?

With all the attention hybrid cars get, compared with diesels, I’m surprised to read that they share a fairly minuscule segment of the auto market. Hybrids have about a 2 percent share of the market, while diesels, remarkably, have less than 3.

I’ve made my case for diesels here many times. I prefer them because they are more durable, produce more torque and deliver up to 30 percent better fuel efficiency than their gasoline counterparts. If gas prices rise, and diesel doesn’t rise as much, the extra cost for diesel-powered cars will be worth it. The benefits over hybrids are their long-term durability and no worries about battery replacement.

Diesel cars are gaining in popularity, more new models are entering the market, and used models could be priced as low as they’re going to get for a while.

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What Used Cars Meet These 8 Criteria?

Who doesn’t like a good bargain?

I’d venture to guess that very few people in this world would be proud to say they paid full price on anything. Especially a car. Maybe there’s a Ferrari fanatic or two out there who would happily gloat about dropping $100K on a pre-owned F430, but the majority of car shoppers have a specific list of requirements they need met in a used vehicle, and they want all those needs satisfied at a bargain price.

People in my family tend to be compulsive car shoppers (and buyers), though my dad has now held onto his 2000 Honda CR-V for somewhere around five years. An eternity.

He asked me what I’d recommend based on his list of 8 requirements. Of course I have my own thoughts and recommendations, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to pass the question along to the other Car Gurus out there. Keep reading for the requirements, which I’m pretty sure apply to many car shoppers, and then chime in on what you think the perfect vehicle would be.

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Hey, Dad, Is That a Shelby GT500!?

1967 Ford Mustang GT500

My son is a car kid. He’s obsessed with anything that has four wheels, two doors and a big engine, and well on his way to becoming a bona fide “car guy” in about 10 years.

He sketches better cars at 9 years old than I’ve ever been able to. He’s convinced that he’s going to grow up and design cars for Ferrari someday. Naturally, I encourage that dream the same way I did when he decided he wanted to be a Seattle Seahawks quarterback. For his ninth birthday he wanted a Ferrari cake, which my wife made, from scratch, into a delightfully delicious and near-perfect Prancing Horse confection.

One of his favorite hobbies is looking through the used car listings and searching for elusive supercars.

When we visited my in-laws’ house last week, he’s the one who noticed the Porsche 911 Carrera S parked next door, and spent the next 10 minutes circling it and breathlessly repeating the word “Wow.” He’s also spotted a red Tesla Roadster from a good 50 yards away and screamed “Lotus!” when a bright orange Elise went by in the opposite direction on a rural highway.

My kid knows his cars. Which is why I was so surprised when he came home yesterday, casually asked a car question, and then slumped his little shoulders when I told him the answer.

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Will Earth Have More Cars Than People?

traffic jam

Does the U.S. need more cars?

Maybe it’s time to put a hold on the production of new cars for a while.

According to, the number of operational vehicles worldwide passed the 1 billion mark in 2010. And with around 60-70 million new cars selling every year, it will take only 15-20 years to double that amount.

While the odds are slim of actually getting to the point where cars outnumber the almost 7 billion people on Earth, it’s alarming that humanity has the need for over a billion carbon-emitting, fuel-drinking machines to satisfy our transport needs. According to some quick Wiki research, there are about 5 billion people on Earth over the age of 15, which would give an approximate car-to-driver ratio of 1 to 5. By that logic it would seem the current supply of vehicles is about in line with the world’s need.

However, since many developed countries, especially the U.S., consist of people who hoard as many cars as they can, ratios in specific countries tell a much different story.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: A Chick Car No More

2012 Volkswagen Beetle, rear

Once upon a time, the Volkswagen Beetle was the ultimate chick car.

That time was all the way up until about yesterday.

The new one, the 2012 Beetle, has managed to broaden its appeal past the miniskirt-wearing crowd and become a car that a man, a real car-loving performance-obsessed man, can drive without hunkering down and hoping no one sees him.

The best improvement about the Beetle’s new style is that it no longer looks like a cutesy animated bubble. It looks more like a Porsche. Well, at the very least, a person might be able to tell that the company that builds the Beetle is the same company that builds the 911 (which reader Jim seems to think I believe is just a pumped-up Beetle.)

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