Buying a Used Car in the Hudson Valley

| September 12, 2009 | 0 Comments

Hudson Valley residents in the market for purchasing a preowned vehicle should do a little homework before making the car buying decision. To avoid purchasing a car that will cost more than anticipated, here are a few tips and resources Hudson Valley residents can use to help make an informed decision:

Free CARFAX Reports

If purchasing a car from a dealership, it’s best to obtain a free CARFAX used car history report. There are a couple of ways in which to get the report for free:

  1. Visit the CARFAX website and utilize their vehicle search service. By entering a vehicle year, make and a local Hudson Valley zip code, the CARFAX service will provide a listing of used cars for sale in the local area. Each car in the database contains a link to the free CARFAX report. Car buyers who are interested can print out the free report prior to contacting the dealership for more information.
  2. Go to a Hudson Valley dealership that’s a member of the CARFAX online program. To find out whether or not the local dealership is a member, go to the CARFAX membership page and insert the zip code of the dealership. All member dealerships in the given zip code will be displayed. When negotiating the particulars of the car purchase, request the dealership to provide a free CARFAX report. They’d much rather provide a free CARFAX car history report than lose a possible sale.

Non Dealership Sale

Free CARFAX reports are easy to get from a dealership, but spotting a “For Sale” sign on the car of your dreams while driving down Route 9, it’s likely that the private seller will not provide a free CARFAX report. In such cases, there are other alternatives for finding more about the vehicle’s history.

If you’re truly interested in the car, ask the seller for the vehicle’s VIN number (vehicle identification number). After obtaining the VIN number, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Visit the New York Department of Motor Vehicle’s website (or visit them in person) and obtain title and lien information. Although the information is basic, it does provide information such as the vehicle owner (make sure the seller can legally sell the vehicle) and liens, if any, on the vehicle title. A car with too many liens may be a problem.
  2. Obtain a free version of the CARFAX report. The free version of the report does not give as much detail as the paid version, but it does provide information such as the record count or activity on the car. Check the vehicle’s activity.
  3. Run a VinCheck on the car. VinCheck is a service provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It checks to see if the vehicle was reported as stolen and not recovered or has a defective title. Defective title includes, but is not limited to vehicles that have suffered flood damage or have been deemed an salvaged vehicle. If the VinCheck database does not give the car a clean bill of health, its time to look for a different car.

General Car Buying Information

Whether the sale is through a dealership or a private owner, there are a few other resources Hudson Valley residents can use to help with the car buying decision:

  1. Check the car’s fuel efficiency by visiting By visiting the Fuel Economy website car buyers can get an idea as to the cost for operating the car they are about to purchase. In the excitement of buying a new or used car, many car buyers forget to analyze how much it will cost to drive the car week after week. This website helps drivers to avoid purchasing a car that they cannot afford to drive.
  2. Review the CARFAX Safety and Reliability reports . Hudson Valley residents have access to free comprehensive Safety and Reliability reports that are published by the Highway Loss Data Institute, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Be prepared, these reports are truly comprehensive.
  3. Check for vehicle recalls and make sure they were all addressed. The Internet Autogiude provides detailed information on vehicle recalls. All you need is the year, make and model of the vehicle to view the recall report.
  4. Last but not least, check to see if it’s a lemon. More than likely, if the vehicle was a lemon, it would have shown up in one or more of the above reports. However, it won’t hurt to make one more check before making the decision to buy a car. Visit the CARFAX lemon check to see if the car shows up in the lemon database.

Words of Advice

Buying a car is a large investment. Purchasing the wrong car can cost much more than originally anticipated. It makes sense to print a hard copy of some of the above reports and use them as bargaining tools when it comes to negotiating the price of the car.

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Category: Automobiles, Shopping

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