How I Bought My New Used Truck

keniatruckThe quest for a car
My old car, a compact, was on its last legs—and I needed a vehicle that that could carry all my outdoor equipment (dirt bikes, snow boards, etc.)

I wanted to buy new—but I didn't have the money. So I decided right off the bat to buy a used truck that was like new.

Oh… the infamous car loan
First, I asked myself:

  • How much do I have for a down payment? About $2,900.
  • How much can I afford to pay each month? $300, max!
  • So… how much car can I really afford? I went online and looked up the auto loan interest rates offered by various financial institutions. I found that my local credit union was the best, at 4.99%.

Using a simple loan calculator, I figured that a $16,000 loan at 4.99% interest, for 5 years, would give me that $300 payment. A $16,000 loan + $2,900 down payment = $18,900. (Remember to factor in the tax, license and other fees that add to your purchase prices, as well as any insurance increases.)

Hold the lemons, please!
I did research for a couple of months to figure out exactly what I wanted—and what to expect: I talked to my dad and my brother, looked at Kelley Blue Book values, read internet listings (to get a feel for asking prices)—and kept an eye out for any news of recalls or defects.

(In fact, I learned that a certain model had engine problems! “Oh, is this an ’07? No thanks.”)

Having a trusty mechanic inspect a car that you’re considering is a must. Luckily, my dad is a mechanic, so I had him come shopping with me. (Thanks, Dad.)

Then off I went shopping. I decided to go with a dealer purchase, because I wanted the extended warranty (here are other used-car buying tips)—and, after a little haggling (always ask, girls!)—I came home with a “new” fire-engine red, 2006 Toyota Tacoma! Hot!

Vrroooom! Share your car shopping tips here.

Kenia Perez works in the aerospace industry in California.