10 Points To ConsiderTo Buy Or Not To Buy Cars On Craigslist

Craigslist is a source of many deals including cars, but when shopping for a newer car always remember buyer beware:

  • DEALS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Some deals that a buyer thinks are local are really scams especially when they ask for money up front.  These scams will often provide only an email and will involve the “shipping” of a car.  DO NOT SEND OR PUT UP MONEY SIGHT UNSEEN.
  • LOCAL DEALERS MAY OFFER GREAT DEALS; However when you go to see the car–oops! It was sold two days ago, and they forgot to remove listing.  This is a bait and many times if you phone them or email them ahead of time, they do not answer.
  • LEADER CARS.  Often dealers who are using Craigslist more and more have “leader cars” to bring you to their lot.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure it’s there and hasn’t been sold already.
  • MAKE SURE TITLE IS CLEAR.  This is important no matter where or from you, you buy the car.  Titles can be impaired because the car was in an accident.  A dealer should be upfront with you about this because it affects the value of the car.
  • GET VIN NUMBER BEFORE BUYING. This will enable you to research the history of the vehicle.  It’s important to do this even if car is listed by the owner because he/she could be second or third owner of the vehicle.
  • BY OWNER” MAY BE IN BUSINESS.  Many people are going to car auctions and they are not always large enterprises, some may buy 1-3 cars and fix them up themselves for resale.  Many small lots and individual dealers are picking up hurricane vehicles, etc.  Just because vehicle is listed as being sold by “owner,” doesn’t mean they were the original owner.
  • ASK IF EVERYTHING ON VEHICLE IS “ORIGINAL.” If repairs have been made, ask to see what they were and when.  Also, when dealing with the seller, ask them if you can have your mechanic go over the vehicle prior to purchase.  If not, walk away.
  • MAKE SURE YOU DRIVE VEHICLE PRIOR TO BUYING. Be wary when owner posts vehicle and shows it, but says that the car is out-of-gas and he/she has to fill it up, so you can’t drive it that day.  This really happened!  Can you imagine posting a vehicle and not having it ready to be driven?
  • KNOW THE DEALER & GET INFORMATION. Ask friends, family, and even other dealers if they know whether or not the person you are dealing with is reputable.  You would be surprised how other dealers not only know what their competition is like, but also know history of  individual cars being sold in their target areas.
  • SEE A GOOD DEAL, ACT ON IT IMMEDIATELY, some deals can be had from Craigslist and you have to act quickly; however, this does not mean you forego all of the steps listed above.


Summer Heat Means Sizzlin' Sales!

*Macy’s.  This retailer has been discounting merchandise the past two weeks with clearance racks up to 80% off.  Stock is limited at that level; however, there remains a good selection of merchandise at 65% off.

Herbergers.  Like it’s sister store, Younkers, yellow dot clearance marked up to 60% off last markdown.  MarkdownMom found Ralph Lauren, Evan-Picone and other designers at terrific savings.  Check out their ºyellow dot shoe sale that includes summer sandals.

Target and WalMart.  These retailers have controlled their inventory and stock is limited on apparel.  MarkdownMom finds high-end retailers mentioned are a better bet for higher quality designer merchandise at competitive prices.  However, check out summer hard goods for lawn and patio, in addition to electronics. Stores are beginning to stock Back-to-School.

Home Shopping Networks.  You will continue to see markdowns and increased number of easy pay,value pays, and flex pay payments extending consumer payments on merchandise bought.  However, markdowns are usually less than mortar and bricks retailers, but for big ticket items of electronics this may be the way to go.  One caveat is to compare prices with other retailers before weighing in on monthly payments for the best deal. 

Auto Sales.  Because of the Cash for Clunkers and the cost of new cars, inventory of preowned vehicles is down and prices reflect that.  However, next month the new models will be coming out and trade-ins should ease this shortage.  If you are looking for a new car, start looking for deals on 2010 vehicles as sales are down and dealers are more inclined to make a sale. 

TIP:  Retailers inventory was heavy going into summer and financial experts expect that will continue  into Back-to- School especially retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters, so you may see early Back -to- School markdowns.

Weekend Sales Review: Super Savings–Something For Everyone Including Football Tickets!

FYI:   Weekend Sales Review is updated throughout the weekend…

Sharper Image:  Electronic innovations for everyone in the family and every room in your house.  Technology to make your life easier, interesting, and healthy.  10% off everything.   TODAY ONLY 01/22/2010.  Offer expires at midnight.

4WD®Hardware:  Want to get your man away from the tube this weekend?  Tell him about this sale on Jeep parts & accessories.  Save 15% sitewide on selected Jeep products.  Sign up to win a Jeep, too.

Michaels.  Calling all crafters.  25% off  entire purchase this Sunday, 4-8 PM Coupons.  Part of their January Madness Sale.

Newport News.  Fashions and accessories.  Clearance under $25, pick your savings!  Save up to 85% off cold weather clearance items.

ShopNBC:  5 Value Pays on everything.    Part of their New Decade Weekend Celebration!

 J&R.   Over 100 weekend sale deals.  Play your tunes in style!

Luggage Online.  Free Shipping + Take 20% off  site-wide.  Here’s your chance to travel in style.

Ticket Network.  Save on $10 on $200 NFL Tickets, use promo code:  NFLSAVE10.  Special shows:  use promo code; BWAYSAVE10.

Cooking.com®.  Last chance to save up to 40% off Rachael Ray Exclusive Sets like roasting dishes a nd bakeware.  Prices good through January 31,2010.

Mikasa.  10% off clearance-4 days only.  Check out  their “ Deal of the Day,”  up to 80% off.

Coldwater Creek Outlet.  Up to 85% off everything in outlet.  Check out knit duster, boyfriend sweater without the sleeves.

Charles & Marie.  Specialty store with edgy and quirky items.  Up to 70% off Menu Sale.  Like a cell phone charger tray, reg.$50, menu sale $19.90-neat idea!

What A Pain!

Whether you are an evolutionist or creationist, both can agree whatever the design  source all of us have had back problems.  Nothing is worse than having to sit at a desk day in and day out, or in your car in traffic for hours on end with an achy,  breaky back!  Doesn’t back pain make your brown eyes blue with the pain?

QVC has got a great deal to help lessen that condition with this adjustable back rest.  Now you can buy those fancy motorized, messaging, back supports–but a good one will run you up to $100.  And your comfy favorite chair is hardly portable to bring with you.  Take the pain out wherever you are with these portable mesh back rests.  In this package deal get 2 back supports for $15.62+sh.  Just think one for the office, and one for the car.   Markdown Mom bought a set for her college kids and one set for her and hubby.

Taking The Pain Out Of The Holidays One Sore Back At A Time!

Going, Going, Gone! This Auction Is So Good, It's Almost Criminal!

Ever wonder what becomes of all those stolen items retrieved by the police such as the bling purchased by drug dealers?  Well, after prosecution of these criminals, some  of the items are released for sale to the general public.  Usually this is done by local and state officials like the local police or your state’s department of transportation.  The money from the sales usually go back into the agency’s budget.  In large metropolitan areas, bargain hunters have had a tremendous advantage at obtaining some real deals on merchandise ranging from diamond jewelry, cars, to computers.

Now, the internet provides an opportunity for everyone to get in on these deals.  At the Property Room.Com you can bid on these hot, hot items.

The “Loot” ranges from cars like this Lexus to Collectible Coins to KitchenAid Mixers. This auction site gives the bidder the advantage of knowing the value of what he or she is bidding on because everything has been appraised by a professional.

However, as with most auctions, large items are available for pick-up only.  Just like other not-for-profit auctions, part of the proceeds are returned to law enforcement agencies to support the good guys.

A great way to get a good deal and to feel good at the same time by supporting those who keep us safe!

Saving Gas Part 2: Prevent The "Vapors" At The Pump

One of our bargain hunters, who is an expert in the petroleum industry, sent these suggestions on how to save money at the pump, and MarkdownMom would like to share them with you:


1. Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the
ground temperature is still cold
. Remember that all service stations have their
storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense
the gasoline. As it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the
afternoon or in the evening….your gallon is not exactly a gallon.

2. When you’re filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast
If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3)stages: low,
middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed,
thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping.

All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some
other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being
sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you’re getting
less worth for your money.

3. Fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster
than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating
roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the
atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.

4. If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage
tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up
–most likely the gasoline is
being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some
of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom. Hope this will help you
get the most value for your money.

5. Lessen creation of vapors by parking in the shade, not in the sun. Heat makes the molecules speed-up and increases evaporation. Plus parking in the shade prevents sitting on a “hot seat!”

*photo courtesy of Aria @imagereferencedatabase.com

Retrofit Your Car With Hydrogen Fuel Cells? You Be The Judge!

Recently, a local television network covered a story about an attempt to competitively attack high fuel prices by using hyrdrogen fuel cells for your car’s engine.

The theory behind these hyrdogen fuel cells is that it turns combustion powered engines into hybrids. Supposedly, by entering into the burn chamber along with your gas, the hydrogen ignites faster, propels the engine when the distilled water interacts with a catalyst in the cells.

The developer, J.Plante, a former computer employee, claims that installing these cells can increase fuel efficiency by 25%. He recommends one cell per one cylinder, and for six cells the price to the consumer is $314.95. In warm weather, distilled water is used, and for cold weather, he recommends using windshield wiper antifreeze.

There are some serious skeptics concerning these devices, since they are not comparable with the technology of PEM Hydrogen Fuel Cells currently used in hybrids, and there are questions regarding generating enough electricity to convert the water into electricity and the damage it may cause to a car’s alternator.

Without empirical evidence that this actually works, it is hard to evaluate the claims. However, there are some less “experimental” actions you can take to save fuel, here are a few:

  1. No brainer is to slow down, you can save as much as 25% by not putting the pedal to the metal.
  2. Keep your car in good running condition. Tune-up to increase gas efficiency.
  3. Don’t pull-out from a stop like you’ve just been given the flag at the Indy 500.
  4. If you have to pull-up at a red or stop sign by hitting the breaks so hard that your car reacts like a bronco, then you were going too fast.
  5. Know the maximum air level to keep your tires efficiently inflated.
  6. Shop around online search engines for the best fuel prices in your local area. Check out: Gas Buddy, Yahoo! Search Shortcut, Motor Trend, Gas Price Watch, and others.
  7. Apply gas coupons that you find on the opposite side of your grocery bill, you can get 3¢, 5¢, up to 14¢ off a gallon by using them. For you gamblers, some casinos offer players cards that can be applied for a reduction at local gas stations.
  8. Warehouse stores generally carry gas cheaper, not a member? Don’t worry, gas stations located near these warehouse stores usually will offer the same price per gallon to remain competitive.
  9. Car pool to work, this way you can split the cost of fuel and parking.
  10. Use a GPS to plan out your shopping and business destinations to save time and money. Make lists so that you avoid those additional runs to the grocery or hardware store.

Have other suggestions? How about sharing???

*photo courtesy of KBJR Northland’s News Center.

Preparing Your Car For Summer Heat

Recently, Markdown Mom had the opportunity, if you can put a positive spin on a near disaster, of being acquainted with the devastating aspect of heat and your car. A vehicle overheating is not a pleasant experience. When the gauge indicator moves into the red zone, and the “low coolant” sign starts flicking, panic is the only word that comes into mind. Oftentimes, car problems–any car problems come without any warning. Here are some tips to avoid the pitfalls of a long hot summer on your car:

1. If the gauge indicator moves into the red zone, immediately turn-off the engine to prevent engine failure. If you are in the middle of traffic, turn on your flashers to indicate that your car is in trouble. Do not wait to try to find an opportunity to pullover. Better to receive a few horn blasts or yelling, than to ruin your engine! Make sure your car completely down before even touching the radiator cap and adding coolant/water.

2. Prevention is the word; however be careful of where you have any work done. There are many fast service places offering a radiator flush, or exchange. However, a radiator flush can result in disabling your thermostat, especially if the coolant is very dirty. Make sure that the service is licensed to replace the thermostat.

3. Go to summer weight oil as specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle. Viscosity of the oil will affect the running of the motor and you do not want to keep the thicker winter weight in your car unless the manufacturer states a particular weight can be used for both winter and summer.

4. Make sure that the radiator fan is working. The fan can work intermittently giving you probems that appear and disappear. Have an electronic diagnostic run if you notice that your car periodically starts to get hotter. Several things with the fan can be causing the trouble, a short, a faullty fuse or heat sensor, and ultimately the fan motor.

5. Check that your tires have the proper air weight. Under-inflated tires can cause the engine to work harder and will also use more gas. Additionally, this is true of any additional weight, so don’t use your vehicle as a storage area.

*photo courtesy of 2carpros.com‰™

Go Green in May!

This year’s Living Green Expo is going on this weekend (May 3 to 4) at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Thousands of fair-goers of all ages walked through the exhibits and demonstrations. This year’s expo was mainly geared towards home-owners with several booths featuring energy-saving ways to power your home such as geothermal, wind, solar, and biofuel, as well as business that use eco-friendly roofing, flooring, and siding products.

Another major type of exhibit was fuel-saving vehicles, hybrid cars and SUVs (e.g. clean-ride.com, hour car, Minnesota Electric Auto Association) and tables supporting alternative travel arrangements. For example, the Minnesota Transit Authority (MTA) displayed a hybrid bus and passed out light -up buttons for those who pledged to car pool or take the bus and train most days of the week.

Educational tables such as the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Environmental Partnership were also available. Food, natural products, and re-used or recyclable venues were also present, many of which are listed below.

Birch Clothing
Mission: Provide consumers with fair trade, fair made, eco-friendly clothing.

Description: Birch clothing is made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, help, silk, wool, tencel and soy.
2309 West 50th Street

Minneapolis, MN 55410
Store Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri (10am to 6pm); Th (10am to 8pm); Sat (10am to 6pm); Sun (1pm to 5pm)
Phone: (612) 436-0776
Website: http://www.birchclothing.com

Northwest Architectural Salvage
Description: Vintage house and furniture hardware.

981 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
Store Hours: Mon, Tues, Th, Fri 12:00 to 6pm; Wed 12:00 to 4pm and Sat 11 to 4pm.
Phone: (651) 644-9270

Pure Fiber
Description: Bamboo towels, sheets and more!

7740 Painter Avenue
Wittier, CA 90602
Phone: (562) 945-5060
Website: http://www.pure-fiber.com

Description: Beeswax candles, hemp soap and other all-natural bath and body products, guitars from old cigar boxes, bracelets from bicycle chains, and purses from old license plates.

1832 East 42nd Street
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 276-0105

The Re-Use Center
2601 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Phone: (612) 724-2608
Website: http://www.thereusecenter.com

Wedge Worldwide

Description: Wedge Worldwide empowers you to make lifestyle choices that support your well-being, your health and the health of the planet. Products are eco-friendly, fair trade, organic, recycled and local.

2105 Lyndale Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Phone: 651-209-1002, (800) 933-1002
Website: http://www.wedgeworld.coop

A Black Friday Story for the Bargain Hunter’s Hall of Fame

Markdown Mom’s husband has a friend at work who is one of the best bargain hunters.  Unparallel in so many ways, he has no qualms of making a great deal even when the "deal" is not the one offered.   In recent years, he has forsaken Black Friday since any deal is not a given despite arriving early and camping outside the retailers.  Oftentimes, he has found very limited stock that will not meet the demand of all the early bird shoppers.  Therefore, after waiting in the Minnesota cold only to be part of the stampede that ultimately ends up with only a very few of these diehard shoppers getting their hands on the item of their desires and the multitudes left being told "sorry, we are out of stock."

This year, he looked at ads in the surrounding towns and found a "deal" at a local car dealership.  Advertising "It only happens once a year," this local dealership offered for sale cars starting at $100 with a "first come-first served" provision.  Now, this ardent bargain hunter did not expect 2007 car for this price, but deemed it worthwhile to go there to look at these "$100 cars,"  with the possibility of finding a car and driving it home either as a fixer upper or for spare parts.  With that in mind, he went to the dealership and waited in the cold for 2½ hours. 

Finally the moment arrived, and he was ushered onto the lot to view the $100 cars except it wasn’t cars  as advertised in the paper, but car–singular.    Not only was it only 1 car, but the condition of the car was in no way road worthy.  Incensed at the deception, the savvy bargain hunter was well aware of the bait and switch, say nothing about the false advertising state laws.  With this obvious ruse, he informed them that there would be repercussions for his spending 2½ hours in the cold based upon a lie!  It was his intention to write the local media and the authorities of this flagrant violation. 

Now everyone knows car dealerships rely on their reputation and word-of-mouth recommendations by happy customers.  This "fast one" they had tried to pull would generate publicity, but not the right kind of publicity for their business.  They then proceeded to find him another car that was more acceptable.  The first car shown was not much better than the $100 car, and was flatly refused.  However, the salesperson showed him a ’99 Oldmosbile, 100,000+ miles, large engine and economical 6-cylinder.  The bargain hunter had overheard another salesperson to two other gentlemen on the lot of $2000 on the same car, a price disparity of $1900 from the the $100 cars advertised.  After test driving the vehicle, the bargain hunter, was offered the same vehicle for $1500, but without any hesistation turned that price down reiterating the false advertising of vehicles that could not be driven on the highway!  He then offered the salesperson $500 for the vehicle.  The salesperson sputtered and said that he would have to speak with the "manager."  When he returned, the salesperson counter offered $750.   The bargain hunter remain firm at $500 suggesting that if he walked off the lot without a deal, others would know about the questionable advertising done by this dealership.  The salesperson conferred again, and came back accepting the $500 offer of the bargain hunter.

As the papers transferring ownership were being drawn-up, the bargain hunter checked the paper for a price comparison and found that similar vehicles were being sold for around $6000.  While Markdown Mom is writing this, this super bargain hunter is heading back to get the title, pay the sales tax, registration, and license plates plus $500 and picking-up his Black Friday Car!

This is a true story, and one that points out the necessity of every bargain hunter to be savvy not only about a particular item, but other issues that come into play such as the reputation of a business and laws governing sales.  Plus this bargain hunter did the one thing that everyone should practice, make an offer, stick to it, and if need be, be prepared to walk–and in this case, talk.