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5 Tips for Buying or Selling a Used Honda Civic

With millions of used cars on the market, Torque News readers reach out for “how to” advice when it comes to selling or buying a used Honda Civic. Back in January we touched on a few buying and selling basics. What are they, and how can you be successful in the used car game? We share 5 essential tips that every used car buyer should know.
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How to avoid a “Lemon,” or get signed into a bad loan? These are but two questions Torque News readers asked us early in 2018. With somewhat of an inventory glut driving used car pricing down, Honda Civic holds its own.

Yet it isn’t the used car bull market of two or three years ago, Back then a clean used Honda Civic demanded near new car dollars. Today, following the reinvention of Honda’s Civic lineup, we’re finding a softening of used Civic lot pricing -- much to the joy of used car buyers. Will your next Civic be electric?

However, buyer beware. Civic, while known for long-term mechanical reliability was subject to a handful of safety recalls over the years. The most publicized is the Tacata Airbag recall. And yes, there are several thousand “older” Civic’s for sale that have not been repaired. So, that’s #1 on my personal list. When buying a used car, take a moment, go online and confirm that your used vehicle of choice is recall compliant. It’s easy to do, Vin # required. Here’s Honda's recall hotline.

Today we find 2 and 3 year old Civics for sale. Is there a deal to be had?

With high volume new car sales comes a glut in trade ins. In 2017 auto dealers delivered 17 million plus, new cars and trucks to U.S. buyers. This week Torque News heads out to the used car lot. Here’s 5 critical considerations when buying or selling your used Honda Civic.

We’ve all seen them. High mileage and somewhat beat Honda Civics selling for head scratching high dollars. Not too long ago that was the norm in North America, and more specifically the West Coast. While retail pricing has receded a bit, you still won’t find a boat load of used Honda Civic’s for sale. Most Civic buyers take the long view of Honda ownership, but they are out there.

Today when I search used car ads for that perfect used Honda Civic with some possible up-market profit potential, vehicle mileage does enter the equation. Yet, that’s not always the deciding factor when buying or selling a used Honda car, crossover, or SUV. As is said, the devil is often in the details. Assessing odometer readings is just the beginning.

Sure, Honda Civics run a long time. But…

There’s a trend in the used car market that began sometime in mid 2016. Used car retail pricing is down trending, much to the delight of the entry-level, first time, and downsizing used car buyers. Compact, along with luxury cars and SUVs took the biggest residual value hit in 2017. This trend continues in 2018. So, in a “buyer’s” market, buying strategy changes a bit. Looking a a used Civic? Sometimes a new Civic is cheaper in the long-run -- especially in today’s market where it’s not uncommon to find your local Honda dealer offering discounts and finance incentives.

Here’s a tip or two for eliminating the dreaded buyer’s remorse, lemon-car drive off, and unanticipated gut wrenching major repairs.

1. When buying a high mileage Honda Civic, insist on viewing service and repair records

A high mileage car does not always mean a worn-out problematic car. How many owners? Has the car been taken care of? Does the seller have service and repair records? And, if you the buyer has any mechanical expertise, and know what you’re looking at, ask the question -- may I look at the car on a rack? Or, may my mechanic inspect the car? You most likely won't find this used Honda Civic.

2. Check for rust through, extensive suspension and tire wear

Depending on your region, that shiny used car may or may not have an under body, hood, or trunk rust through problem. Yes, I’ve bought a car or two with minor rust. However, I adjusted the offering purchase price accordingly. For a temporary short-term car, minor rust or abrasion will not always kill the deal. But it will impact the future retail value of the car. Just because you bought it, doesn’t mean the next guy will.

As a safety precaution: Check suspension, shocks, tie rods, and ball joints for travel, play, wobble, and stutter-stops. These repairs can cost $ 1,000’s. Don’t dismiss your concerns our suspicions in lieu of a lower asking price. It’s not worth looking the other way -- unless you’re personally qualified to do the repairs. Remember, a set of tires and balancing can set you back $300 to $400 or more..

3. Interior cigarette smoke and mold

I’m guilty of assuming that I could detail long-term cigarette smoke, pot-haze, and mold,. out of my latest used SUV acquisition. Heck, I wanted it, so I bought it. Here we are 2 months into the deal and I’m still dealing with grandpa so and so’s cigarette smoke residual nicotine.

No matter what someone tells you, do as you will. A car or truck that’s been smoked in for days, months, or years, will never be flower fresh. I don’t care what the price is -- fuhgettaboutit! Unless of course you’re a smoker.

4. Consistent oil changes and service scheduling adds value to your used Honda Civic

We all get lazy from time to time in making our scheduled oil change timeline. The same can be said for periodic dealership servicing. However, a used car that’s been regularly serviced is worth more at time of resale.

The same can be said for proper tire inflation, rotation, and balancing. Even to that guy at the dealership that comes out and appraises your Civic for (bellow wholesale) trade-in value, will increase the value for a clean engine room, clean oil, transmission fluid, a tiddy, detailed interior, and tires in good or better condition. *Visual condition will gain you points at the dealership.

5. Look to Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds Auto, and others for true market value before buying

With today’s easy access to the internet finding true market value for your used Civic is easier than ever. Rather buying or selling, real-market-average-pricing is invaluable when setting expectations. True enough, a “deal is a deal” when the numbers work for you. Yet, a bit of research can eliminate much angst when it comes to buying or selling a used car or light truck.

The used car game is a twisty one: However, for sellers who are willing to deal with the pros and cons of face to face public sales, I highly recommend attempting “for sale by owner.”

If you have the time and don’t require your used car as a barganing chit for a pending new car trade in, you will most likely realize a far greater residual value return on the sale of your used car by doing it yourself.

On-line advertising is cool, newspaper Ads can be safer. For buyers: “Buyer beware.” There’s no “cooling off” period when buying a car from a private party. However, with some due diligence you can profit from a private sale.

For those looking for a short-term warranty or “easy financing”

Buying a used car or truck from a car dealer can be a pleasant-enough experience if you do your homework. I’m fortunate to know some honest car dealers. But truthfully, safety check or not, used is used!

It’s up to you the consumer to walk into a car dealer with your eyes wide open. We’ve all experienced that questionable car deal at one time or another. However, for those wishing to finance a used car or secure a limited used car warranty, a reputable car dealership may be your best bet.

Negotiate! You’re holding the checkbook. Good luck!

Photo attributes Parks McCants 2018.


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