Recognizing A Curber

Lots of people are looking for savings wherever they can find them these days. And for many that means buying a used car. When buying a car privately people often look for ads from private sellers in the newspaper, but many of those people are not who they claim to be.

They are called "curbers": unlicensed car dealers who make a living selling cars.

So here are some warning signs and if you see any of them walk away from the deal:

The seller is only available by cell phone.

They will not meet you at their home.

They meet you in a parking lot somewhere or a coffee shop.

The name and address on their driver's license does not match the registration on the vehicle. They may claim it's their grandmother's, uncle's, son's, daughters car but don't take that at face value.

Finally, the vehicle registration is a photocopy not an original. You need to see an original.

If any of these things happen my advice is: walk away and buy another car.

That said there can be advantages to a legitimate private sale. You may be able to buy the car at a lower price and the owner if they are the original owner should be able to provide you with full maintenance records, and a full history of the vehicle.

But you should still have it independently inspected and run a CarProof report.

Sometimes those who seem the most trustworthy really are not. So pay as much attention to the seller as you do to the vehicle. And best of all take your time.

Best Bargains on Used Cars.

Used cars are cheaper than new, but are they good value?

Comparing new and used sticker prices is easy but doesn't tell the full story. You need to factor in the full cost of ownership: depreciation, sales tax, interest on financing, fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs before you know if it is really a bargain.

"Used cars are more reliable than they used to be, so a good one won't likely hit you with big repair costs anytime soon," said Jon Linkov of Consumer Reports.

We crunched some new versus used numbers with a three-year-old Ford Focus you save $8500 after five years. With a three-year-old V-6 Toyota Camry the savings were huge more than $13,000.

"With the Camry, that's the equivalent of getting five years of free gas," said Linkov.

Overall, Consumer Reports found over five years of ownership if you buy a three year old car you can save 32 per cent versus new. A two year old car you save 27 per cent and a one year old vehicle you save 19 per cent on average.

But Consumer Reports says you need to pick the right used car to see big savings.

For instance, a popular car like the Mini Cooper doesn't depreciate a lot, so buying used isn't going to be a big money saver.

The same goes for the Toyota Prius Hybrid which is in such demand it is holding its value though finding a used one isn't easy anyway.

And if you're worried about any social stigma of buying used, car expert Phil Edmonston says ask millionaires what they buy:

"Millionaires, 39 per cent, said 'I buy my cars used'. And that's very revelatory, 'I buy my cars used'. Well, I do too!" said Edmonston.

That, from the man who wrote the book on car buying!

"I find that buying a used vehicle, it's already been pre-rusted, pre-dented, pre-banged,

I don't get that terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I go and see that first scratch, you're going to get that when you get a new car," explained Edmonston.

If you like pampering, here is another new versus used tip. Buy a used luxury car instead of a new regular one. For example, you may be able to buy a three or four year old Lexus for the price of a new Toyota. But the Lexus is roomier, better equipped, and quieter with a better ride.