96 S Waverly Rd Holland, MI 49423 Ph: 616-546-3000

Websites giving pricing advice have flaws

Is it really a Good Deal or Overpriced?

When shopping for a used vehicle there are lots of things to consider that make a huge impact on the Value/Price. Many websites now days try to tell you if you are getting a good/fair/bad deal. It is important to use these as guides but you really have to know they do come with some major flaws.

No two used cars are worth the same amount of money. How can these sites tell you if the vehicle is a good deal or not when they only know less than 50% of the details. The condition of the vehicle has a significant impact on the value. These sites don't take the condition into account at all. Most of them also don't know any data from the History Report and therefore can't use that information in their equation. Here are a few examples of things that really affect the value. These values come from Real Shoppers that were surveyed and given the chance to put a value on each item.

One Owner – a one owner vehicle has $750 higher value on a vehicle that is 5 or more years old. It has a value of over $1,000 more compared to a vehicle with 3 owners or a vehicle is over 8 years old.

Accidents: Accident free vehicle verses one that shows an accident with little to no damage $500. Moderate Damage $1,000. Severe Damage or Airbags Deployed - $2,000

Smoke Foul Odor – This one really has a huge range. Most people(non-smokers) put a value of over $1,500 for one that is smoke free vs smoke odor. Many customers commented that they would not buy a vehicle with a foul smoke smell at any price. This can impact a vehicle thousands of dollars.

Tires: A vehicle with new tires has a $500 higher value than one needing tires. In some vehicles it could be as high as $1,000. This is one where you have to see and account for how much life is left and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Repairs/Maintenance: A vehicle that has been inspected, serviced and repaired on average has a $500 higher value than one that is in need of repairs. Always have a car inspected before you purchase it. It could easily add up to thousands of dollars if you buy a vehicle that is deficient on maintenance and repairs. Brake Job - $275-$500 – Alignment $70 – Timing Belt - $700-$900 – Suspension Work - $300-$600 – Oil Leaks - $500. Major engine and transmission work could easily get into the thousands of dollars for repairs. Spending $50-$75 for a pre-purchase inspection would be worth it.

Body Condition – A vehicle with Several minor door dings is worth about $200 less. Scratches needing paintwork to fix - $500. Often you will see poor previous repairs on bumpers. This changes values buy over $500 if substandard work is done. Cracked Windshield - $200

Interior Condition: Rips/Tears/Stains in Leather easily have $200- $500 impact on value. Also check for worn steering wheels, stains/tears in carpet or seat belts.

Canadian Vehicles: The US and mostly norther states are getting flooded with vehicles that spent their life in Canada. These vehicle should not be very high on your list of vehicles to consider. These vehicles can have a huge impact on the value for a number of reasons( Read: Why you should avoid buying a Canadian Vehicle). Canadian vehicles are worth $1,000 less and in many cases $2,000.

As you can see you can have two seemingly identical vehicles sitting next to each other. Both with same year, make, model, options, color, and miles. Based on the above scenarios you could easily have a $3,000 difference in values. On paper both would have the same value but in reality one truly is a Good Deal and the other is one you should probably not consider. These websites don't subtract one dime for a vehicle that smells like smoke, has spent its life in Canada or is in Below Average Condition and needing repairs. Those seem like pretty important things to me.....I bet they do to you as well.

Why you should avoid buying a Canadian Vehicle

You will often see in my used car listings that my vehicle is NOT Canadian.  I get asked quite often why I say that or why shouldn't they buy a Canadian used vehicle.    Over the last year there has been an excessive amount of Canadian used cars flooding the U.S. market.   These cars are being brought to many US Auto Auctions and dealers are buying them for their inventory.   Dealers like to buy them because often they are significantly less expensive than the exact same one that was made for and spent its life in the U.S.  These same dealers can make  hundreds even thousands of dollars more when they convince you to buy one.  Don't make a $2,000 mistake.  Here are a few things to consider.
#1 Canada has a much harsher climate the here in Michigan.  Many people would rather buy a vehicle that did not come from a northern state let alone from an even higher northern country.   I have seen many of these come from very rural areas of Canada like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland( island). Two months ago I had a customer considering one of our vehicles and another one down the road at another dealer that was $500 less.  I pointed out it was missing a few options and Canadian(from Newfoundland).  I then pointed out that the brake lines all had recently been replaced.  I have been selling used cars for over 23 years and have never changed all the brake lines on a 4 year old vehicle because of corrosion.  I am positive there were other items that were probably needing replacing very soon.  Once corrosion and rust starts it is very hard if not impossible to stop.
#2 These vehicles were not made to be sold the the U.S. Market.  The USA and Canada have different standards for their vehicles.  I am positive these may be very minor differences and not be all that concerning but nonetheless  it could also effect things like recalls and Service Bulletins.   Even warranties could be affected.   I have seen manufactures replace defective parts or extend the warranty for known issues.  Many times these are only in effect when in their home country.   Vehicle features and options may also be packaged quite differently in these vehicles.
#3 Carfax-  Now this is a bigger factor than most people realize.  Everyone wants to see the Carfax before they buy a used car.....and even if you don't, I implore you do INDEED LOOK AT THE CARFAX.  Carfax has been in the US market for over 20 year and is not perfect by any means.  Carfax has only recently been in the Canadian market for a very short time.   They are just now setting up their sources for all the information you find on the report.   A vehicle from Canada may be missing very important data that Carfax just doesn't have yet.   Most consumers would rather not buy a vehicle that has had 3 owners or been in a bad accident.    If Carfax does not have the data source yet, you could be buying a vehicle with an truly unknown vehicle history report even when the Carfax states One Owner(or is blank) and lists no accidents reported.   It may be a few years before Carfax has everything up to date on vehicles from Canada.  Until then......it might not be worth the risk.
#4 Resale Value - here is another point that can really impact you later down the road.  If Canadian cars are not all the desirable now and have a lower value today, just think  what this will mean when you want to sell or trade it in a few years from now.  It could bring hundreds to thousands of dollars less.  There are some people(and even dealers like me) that have no desire to have a Canadian vehicle at any price.   It could make it harder to get rid of down the road.  The last thing you want is to buy a vehicle today and then find out Carfax finally added an accident to the history report and no one wants your car because it is Canadian.
#5 This point is rather small but worth noting.  Right now there is enough of a used car shortage to make the prices of used cars a little higher than normal.   Cars that are in Higher Demand sell pretty quickly and dealers can make higher than average profits.  Do you think that Canada is sending us their good ,Above Average, high demand, higher profit and quick selling vehicles?  Of course not.  They are sending us the ones they can't sell in Canada.  Ones from rural areas of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and other cities with inventory just sitting around.   If they don't want that car in Canada......do you really want it here?
In the end it is your choice on which used car to purchase.  Make sure you have all the facts and don't let a salesman sugarcoat the process or the vehicle.   If something feels off, walk away and look into it a bit more.  Don't make a $2000 mistake if you can help it.