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Subject:  Fool 13 Steps to Buying a Car needs a 14th step Date:  8/20/2000  3:09 PM
Author:  hooferpm Number:  7141 of 71798

After listening to the portion of today's show about buying cars (8/20/00), I visited for the first time. The 13 steps to buying a car is one of the best resources that I have encountered for buying cars.

I really only had one objection and that was that Obtaining Financing was Step 3 after negotiating the price of the new car and trade-in.

A prospective car buyer should always arrange financing in advance with their own credit union or bank before discussing the same with the likes of GMAC, FMCC, Chrysler Financial, etc.

Even if you are planning to take advantage of special Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) financing, you are in a position of strength when you enter into negotiations prequalified.

In addition, a prospective car buyer should review their consumer credit files (something that should be done at least once per year as SOP) in advance of applying for a loan:

What you don't know will hurt you - see for details.

Finally, a 14th step is in order. The fool auto expert was "spot on" when he stated that a good, modern automobile will last 10 years or more with proper care - I have surpassed 200,000 miles or 10 years with vehicles that are on Consumer Reports "avoid" lists (see and I have NO FORMAL automotive training.

Proper Maintenance (PM) is the 14th step that will help a vehicle remain a clean, reliable, and economical means of transportation. Anyone can learn to practice PM without extensive training or expensive tools. All you need is a clean paper towel, a good tire gage (a $15 dial-type gage available at most major auto parts stores), and a notebook.

Everyone should check all their fluids, tire pressures, operation of lights/horn, etc. at least MONTHLY. Get out the owner's manual and make a checklist of the items to check on your particular vehicle. If the owner's manual doesn't have enough information, the buy the $12.99 Haynes repair manual for your car (auto parts stores or Chapter 1 on maintenance will show you what to do with easy step-by-step instructions, photos, and diagrams. Also try or

Make a chart of all the OEM recommended maintenance/frequency in the first column. In adjacent columns pencil-in the date/mileage of the last service. In the final column pencil-in the projected month and mileage (to the nearest 100 miles) of the next service due. Review this list each month to see what is coming due in the way of scheduled maintenance.

I always recommend following the OEM's "severe" schedule regardless of the type of drivin