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  CUPS Federal Credit Union                An Employee Benefit of the Sisters of Providence Health System

Used Car Buying Facts

   High prices on new cars and trucks have driven many potential customers out of the new car showrooms and onto used car lots. That's not hard to understand when you consider that a new car has risen in average cost 70% over the last decade, while median family incomes and consumer price index for the same period have risen only 40%.

   If you're in the market for a used car, we can help you! We want you to be a smart shopper, get the best loan rate from us, and the best deal for your money. Check your trade-in as well as the "new" used car book value at:

   Don't buy someone else's problems!  The Center for Auto Safety has estimated that manufacturers are forced to buy back about 50,000 lemons a year - about $1 billion worth of new cars.  The FTC is looking into a number of cases where dealers subsequently sold these cars to unsuspecting consumers and did not disclose their previous history.  Here's how to avoid it happening to you:

Check the mileage.  If it's low, wonder whether the previous owner ditched the car because of problems.  Ask the seller to prove any claims that the car was returned for trivial reasons, or was a repossession.

Check the label.  Give pause if you're told a car is an executive, brass hat, demonstrator, program, or resumed vehicle.  These aren't always problem cars, but you should insist that the sellers support such claims in writing.

Check the warnings.  Carefully read all disclosures on the car's window stickers, door frame, title, and contract.  Look for any reference to defects such as factory buyback, manufacturer buyback, or warranty return.

Check the past.  Request and review the car's service history and note frequency of problems and gaps in records.  Study the title, it gives the name of the previous owner - contact them.  Vehicles transferred from another state are tougher to trace.  For $20. Carfax, (800) 346-3846, provides searches on 265 million title transfers.

Check the car.  Before you buy any used vehicle, have an independent mechanic assure you that it's sound.  Ask your mechanic to check if all of the model's safety recall work has been done.  Autofax, (800) 777-4481, provides quick printouts of reported problems for a given model and year for $20.

   Other things to ponder as you search for that new-to-you car is what size vehicle do you really need?  Vans and trucks are nice, and convenient when you need them, but how many times a month do you really need the internal space they provide?  Hauling around that extra room can cost a lot more than a sedan or sub-compact will.  What kind of mileage does this new vehicle get compared to what you're getting now?  Check  the Website of Consumer Reports Magazine for details on yearly maintenance costs, safety information, and repair records.

Also, call your insurance carrier and inquire about insurance costs, ask them if the vehicle you're contemplating buying is on their "hot car" listing of the cars most often stolen.  And last but not least, where will you take this new vehicle for repairs - if you have a mechanic you trust now, will they work on this new vehicle?  Sometimes it's not the cost of the car, but the monthly maintenance and repair costs that encourage people to switch to another model or style.

CUPS Federal Credit Union