Car dealers in West Philly
November 24, 2010 4:48 AM   Subscribe

Where do folks in Philadelphia buy used cars? - We need a used car, sensible Japanese economy style. Is there anywhere accessible from West Philly where there are those streets with multiple car dealers on them? The online reviews for some of the small local dealers here are ... scary. Thanks!

We're looking for a reasonable Corolla/Camry/Civic etc. deal. We can get to a places near West Philly easier - so the northeast is out.
posted by carter to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Rather than looking for a trustworthy dealer to put yourself in the hands of, you might be better off figuring out fairly precisely what you're looking for, what it should cost, how to recognize it when you see it, and how to negotiate. Car dealers' incentives tend to run counter to yours, since you want to buy the most car possible for the least cash, and they want to sell the least car possible for the most cash they can possible extract from you. You need an advocate (possibly your educated self) that is not the dealer.
posted by jon1270 at 6:19 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no real experience in buying a car here in Philly, but here's a great blog article in how to negotiate buying a car without stepping foot in a dealership. Good luck!
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:17 AM on November 24, 2010


When I lived in Delaware County I looked for cars at the Airport Auto Mall which is on Essington Avenue down by the airport. But I've never bought a car there and I don't know how accessible it would be to West Philly. Maybe there's a bus?
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:51 AM on November 24, 2010


Thanks for the resources, everyone! The whole process is somewhat anxiety inducing. Yes we do have a price limit ($4-5k), and some overall specs with regard to age, miles, etc. We're generally after less car, with lower miles.

Thanks for the tip about Essington Ave, interplanetjanet. We're using Zip cars at the moment, so we do have some freedom.
posted by carter at 8:21 AM on November 24, 2010


1. Don't buy from a dealer, buy from a private individual.
2. $4k should be plenty to get a nice used car.
3. Find a mechanic that you trust. Find out how much they charge for a pre-purchase inspection.
4. Use Carfax to screen VIN numbers.
5. Use google to find out what cars you should be interested in, and then use google again to find out what you should know about them. Keep doing research until you feel you are an expert.
6. If you ever feel you are being pressured or feel stressed out, just walk away.

Toyota and Honda make great cars, but so do Nissan and Mazda. Try to settle on a style (4-door compact: corolla, 4-door midsize: Accord) and then shop for similar cars across brands.

I can't stress enough that you should educate yourself until you are relaxed. There is a ton of great information out on the internet. Once you get comfortable with your knowledge base, go look at a car that you don't want to buy. Then walk away from it. When you are comfortable checking out a car and walking away, then start looking at cars that meet your requirements. Always be prepared to walk away.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:29 AM on November 24, 2010


I agree with b1tr0t on all counts except maybe the first. Private sellers know they can't get dealer asking prices, so it's easier to get a decent price from a private seller. On the other hand, dealers have more room and more incentive to negotiate than your typical private seller, so dealer prices can be driven even lower if you're willing to work at it. Dealers can be fine places to buy a car, so long as your clear that the price the dealer is asking is not what you really have to pay.

Absolutely do enough research to feel comfortable. You should always feel in control of the process.
posted by jon1270 at 9:16 AM on November 24, 2010


...as long as you're clear...
posted by jon1270 at 9:22 AM on November 24, 2010


The problem I have with dealers is that they tend to lie or at least omit important information about the car. With private individuals, it is usually a lot easier to get a sense of the overall honesty of the seller. More often than not, a private seller will tell you everything you need to know about the car - all of its issues down to the inconsequential things.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:21 AM on November 24, 2010


a private seller will tell you everything you need to know about the car - all of its issues down to the inconsequential things.

Sadly this hasn't been my experience, at least not consistently enough for me to feel secure in such a generalization. I got the first car I bought from a private seller who, it quickly became clear, intentionally deceived me about the condition of the car. It was literally ready for the scrap heap the day I drove it home.

On average, though, you're probably right about the typical trustworthiness of dealers vs. private sellers. I guess I've decided that it's best to rely on sources other than the seller for information about the car -- my own observations, an independent mechanic, carfax, etc., and try to do an end run around any questions of seller honesty.
posted by jon1270 at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2010


A few suggestions:

(1)
Get the word out with your circle of friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, lovers and other strangers that you are in the market for a car. They or someone they know may have a car they want to sell.

(2)
Ask around for recommendations for a good mechanic; then go speak to the person. Mechanics often connect buyers and sellers for used cars.

(3)
There may be community oriented publications wherein locals advertise all kinds of things like cars for sale. It's been a long, long time since I lived in Philadelphia (West Philly as it happens), but I have no recollection of what your local options might be.

Of course, there's also Craig's List.

(4)
Car dealerships have the advantage of inventory, but I wouldn't go near them unless you have done your homework and are comfortable haggling.

At some point, I will be replacing my Honda Accord. My plan is to sell it to my auto repair shop when the time comes: they know the vehicle, and have given me a standing offer to buy it when I'm ready to get rid of it. Earlier this year, I sold my uncle's Honda CRV via my accountant; his niece needed a vehicle, and was looking for just such a one. My point here is that getting the word out through your network of acquaintances is probably the best bet.
posted by cool breeze at 1:39 PM on November 24, 2010


Thanks everyone, these are all great answers! It's really helped us to focus on options for what to do. I think this could take a long time ...

We have looked at Craigslist, but there's so much crap on there in the used car section.
posted by carter at 5:08 PM on November 24, 2010


Read this if the purchase isn't an emergency. It'll take the mystery out of this process, and put you in control.
posted by jon1270 at 6:58 AM on November 25, 2010


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