: First-Time Used Car Buyer---Any Advice Welcome!

06-27-13, 08:20 PM
I have a 1988 Cadillac Sedan DeVille which I've owned for the past 25 years. I bought it new and it's the only car I've ever owned.

Lately, I've been experiencing problems with it. I am emotionally attached to the Caddy, but I realize it may be time to replace it. It's currently at the dealership for repair. There's a problem with leaking coolant and overheating, but I have yet to receive the final diagnosis. I think the coolant pan may be cracked, because something is leaking. I was told that the pan would be very expensive to replace (if it even can be done at all).

I can't afford a NEW Caddy, but I will ONLY drive a Cadillac.

While at the Caddy dealership, I looked at a few used Cadillacs. They had a 2007 DTS with 75,000 miles on it selling for $17,000. Does this seem like a fair price? I'm in California. It appeared to be in good condition, but I know very little about cars. Taxes, license, and warranty are extra. The whole thing would be about $20,000.

At my Caddy dealership, the salespeople who sell NEW cars and do repairs are all top-notch and trustworthy. However, it's a completely different set of people who work at the USED car division.

The USED car salesman at Caddy was pushy and too slick for my taste. He encouraged me to ditch my old car without even knowing what the problem was. He promised that everything was perfect with his used cars, etc. He basically just said "luxury, look at the beautiful color". I'm a woman alone and really don't know much about cars, so he was just telling me the stuff that I can understand.

I know to ask for a Carfax report, but I don't know what to look for in it (other than prior accident history). Any advice? Thanks.

I test-drove the car and it drove well, but I really know nothing about auto mechanics. I don't have anyone to help me with this, either.

These used car salesmen are aggressive and promise the moon. I get the feeling that they would basically say ANYTHING to make a sale.

He also said that he wouldn't pay ANYTHING for my 1988 Caddy, without even seeing it or knowing anything about it. My Caddy is in excellent cosmetic condition, inside and out. It still runs. When I'm out driving, I've had multiple people express interest in buying my car. Unfortunately, I always just said "no thanks" and never bothered to get a phone number. I know an old car isn't worth a lot, but this one is a true classic. A yellow DeVille---it's absolutely beautiful.

Does anyone have any advice re: the purchase of a used car? What sort of questions should I ask? If you have a 2007 DTS, do you like your car? Thanks for any advice!



Tom's Caddy
06-28-13, 10:03 AM
You will love the DTS. $20000 is to high for a 2007. I would ask for his boss and make an offer of $16000 total, keep you're caddy and sell it private for what ever you can get and be happy.:bouncy:

06-28-13, 10:39 AM
Here some advice from a 3 time Caddie owner....each one bought used. Google auto trader and enter the info about your car. Be honest with the questions and they will give you...on line....an aproximation of what your car is worth on trade in and any local dealers interested in buying it for that price. Next....shop on line for the kind of Caddie your interested in. I started with a CTS, went to an STS, and settled in lo ve with a 2010 DTS. My guess is you would only be happy in a DTS after driving your car for so long. The others are like entry level sports cars in my opinion. Look nationwide at Cadillac dealerships only and look for only "certified"cars. They have been basically checked inside and out, under 50000 miles, and are still covered under warranty. Tbey are also approved later on for an extended warranty. When you find the options and color and the price fits.....find a Cadillac dealership you have heard reliable things about....find a female salesperson, or the oldest male there, and show them your auto trader sheet. Then tell them you have found the car on line and ask them to check it out for you. If you decide its the one you want, then have them transport it in. Or better yet do like me and my wife did and make a fun trip out of it. Fly to where it is after having the local dealer do the transaction and pick it up yourself....drive it home and get a little vacation out of it at the same time! I will only buy used certified Caddies and have been very pleased each time.

06-28-13, 07:46 PM
Hey Eva,
I purchased a 2008 DTS, 109,000 miles in excellent conition in May of this year, from a dealer in central MN. Has all options minus adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Sticker was $12,995, (marked down 3x from it's original selling price of $16,500) I paid $12,000+ tax, title, license for a total of $12,900. My dad always told me the worst time to buy a car is when you have to, so I started searching about 6 months ago and searched a 250 mile radius around my home. My advice would be to use web searches such as carsoup, also visit all the websites of dealers in your area you deem to be respectable. You can view alot of information online and narrow down your "test drives". Most of the franchise dealers include a link to free carfax or similiar reports on their websites. I have been extremely happy with my 2008 DTS and it was worth the 6 months to find the right deal. If I did it again, I would have looked for a 2010, because that year has bluetooth and is compatible with the onstar smartphone app. The 2009 also has bluetooth, but is not compatible with the onstar smartphone app. Nutshell, don't rush and keep looking. It may be worthwhile to check the websites of dealers in neighboring states and be worth a Saturday road trip to check things out. Good luck in your endeavor and I hope your repairs to your 1988 Cadillac are small.


06-28-13, 09:48 PM
Thanks so much for the info!

I asked the used car salesman: "If I find a used Caddy online that I like, can you have it transported in to your dealership?" To my disappointment and bewilderment, he said NO. Then he told me that "you never know what you're getting over the Internet". But IF the car is "certified" and has all the required info, I see no reason why they cannot transport a car from another dealership. (I would like a much better selection to choose from, as opposed to the 2 DTS's that happen to be on this guy's lot). When I asked why they can't arrange transportation from another dealership, the salesman actually said to me, "There are no USED car manufacturers". Of course nobody manufactures USED cars! That was one of the dumbest things anyone has ever said to me. I may not know a whole lot about cars, but I AM a college graduate--Summa cum Laude. So I did NOT appreciate being treated like I was stupid.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a situation where I'm able to travel. So the only option is to have the car transported in. I do NOT understand why that cannot be done. Why should I be stuck with having to choose between the two DTS's that happen to be on my local used car lot, when I can search through thousands over the Internet? There has GOT to be a way, and I do not understand why the salesman didn't even TRY to help me.

Thanks for the advice about bargaining. The salesman claimed that at $17,000 (before tax, fees, and warranty) the 2007 DTS with 75,000 miles was below KBB value. Maybe that's correct? He said it would come to $20,000 TOTAL.

Thanks for the advice about "certified" used cars, too. I agree I'd probably only be happy with a DTS. What I don't understand is why the used car salesman refuses to even consider trying to help me out with a car that I might find online. I have no idea how their commission system works, but I can only guess that they have huge incentives to sell the cars on their lot, and little incentive to try to transport and check out a vehicle brought in from elsewhere.

This all makes me wonder how much I can even trust my local used Caddy salesman. This Caddy dealership is wonderful for repairs and the salesmen who sell the NEW Cadillacs are true professionals. But it's a different set of people working in the USED division of my Caddy dealership. They just want to sell whatever they happen to have on their lot and refuse to even consider transporting a car from elsewhere. This is the only Caddy dealership in my area.

Do other used car dealers help people with cars found online? I need more selection than two DTS's. Thery've got to be able to get cars from elsewhere? And I definitely need a dealer who is going to help me more with the process and not insult my intelligence. I looked at a few used cars there a year ago when I was having my Caddy serviced, and I dealt with the same guy. I have no idea if he's the boss there or what.

Thanks again for the advice!

06-28-13, 10:05 PM
If your buying a Certified Pre Owned, the dealer you are purchasing the vehicle from should be able too arrange shipping. Rates for U.S. shipping was about $700 in 2005, i'm sure it has went up since that time. Even here in brainerd MN, we have a couple of independent lots that will send a driver to pick up cars from outstate, of course that cost is passed on to the buyer. Best bet, just arrange with the dealer you are purchasing from. If it is a CPO vehicle it would make sense to me they would ship it to the "New Car" side of the house at your local Cadillac dealer. Good luck! Heck, buy one from MN and I'll drive it to CA for you :)

06-28-13, 10:49 PM
The salesman you are dealing with only wants to sell you the cars on HIS lot...
He makes a lot more commission that way.
He also lied about not being able to transport one in for you.
Dealers do that all the time... or as someone else said... buy it from a different dealer and have it transported directly to YOU.
The selling dealer will arrange the transport.

Here is the value for a 2007 DTS from Kelly Blue Book in EXCELLENT condition.

http://www.kbb.com/cadillac/dts/2007-cadillac-dts/sedan-4d/?condition=excellent&vehicleid=83507&intent=buy-used&mileage=75000&r=172835091521783550&options=1742556|true|1742556|true|1742556|true|190 9243|true|1742599|true&pricetype=retail

06-28-13, 11:45 PM
Eva....posts are spot on. That salesman only wanted to sell their cars and wasnt interested in helping you. I found my 2008 STS in Detroit at a Massey Cadillac dealership. Me and the salesman in CO spotted it on line at the Caddy dealership in CO. I bought the vehicle right on the spot. They had it transported to CO for $800 with the garuntee that if I didnt like it after a test drive, they would cancel the sale. The 2010 DTS I just bought was found on line from CO in Orlando FL. This time I was able to fly down and drive it back. If you live that dealership go directly to the used car manager and never again to the jerk salesman. I would even go as far as complaing to the manager of that dealership if it is a Cadillac dealership as that is total BS and not condusive of Cadillac. Dont put up with it.

06-30-13, 06:05 PM
Hey Eva,

First of all I would ditch that pushy & slick used cars salesman. You must also talk to his management followed up by a written complaint about his rude/unprofessional behavior towards you. There are many ways to do the research before buying an automobile. I have always trusted the good old Consumers Report for selecting/buying a new or used vehicle. The Report provides, among others, history of a vehicle. The Car Fax is an excellent tool as it provides you past history of your next potential automobile. Here are few examples: it gives you the complete records since the manufactured date of the vehicle, it tells you whether the car was involved in a accident, it provides all the records regarding the maintenance history of the vehicle (frequency of oil changes, tires replacements, brake jobs, etc). You can do the research on the replacement vehicle via the Auto Traders, eBay Motors, Car Max, etc. You can look up the value of a used car using the Kelly Blue website (kbb.com). I looked up the value of used 2007 DTS you saw at your dealership. It showed that a Caddy with 75,000 miles, in an excellent condition, should sell bu the used-car dealership for ~$13,800.00.

As far as disposing off your current vehicle, you can use the Auto Traders, or eBay Motors to list your 1988 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. If you kept in good condition and have all the service records, you should be able to fetch a good price.

Eva, just curious, you mentioned that you don't have anyone to help you with the car buying process. Don’t you have a Dad, Uncles, or Brothers?

06-30-13, 09:26 PM
Thanks for the advice; I really do appreciate it.

To answer why I'm basically alone in this process...here goes. In the past, my dad always helped me with everything related to my car. I'm not saying he's an auto expert, but he knows more than I do. I always relied on my dad's advice. In the past year or so, my dad has had some serious health problems. He's not sharp mentally like he used to be and his mobility is limited.

I do have a brother, but he lives 500 miles away. I've talked to my brother on the phone about this, but it certainly isn't the same as walking into a car dealership with my brother to look out for me and stand up to the pushy salesmen. That would be great, but he'd never fly up just for this. I truly wish more than anything that my brother could be with me when I buy a car.

All of my friends always buy new cars and don't know much about cars. I've asked everyone I know in the past year or so, because that's when I really started to worry about the possibly of having to replace my car. A year ago, the shop was able to fix my Caddy for a fairly reasonable price. At the time, I asked my dad about the future of my car. My dad encouraged me to keep driving my old car, since it appeared to be fixed.

I certainly agree with the person whose dad advised him that the best time to buy a car is when you don't need one yet. I now see that waiting until the old car is kaput is really not a very wise way to do things. I'm now in a situation where I'm shelling out $35 dollars a day for a rental car.

I admit I feel pretty desperate to buy a car, but intellectually I know that a lot of mistakes can be made when buying something out of desperation. I wish I had months to search for the perfect car, but the cost of my rental car is probably going to necessitate a hasty decision. I wish there was a cheaper way to rent a temporary vehicle.

I guess it's not possible to just buy a car I don't care much about and then try to trade it in a couple of months from now for one I really do like? I'm already sensing that that wouldn't be smart financially, since trade-in values are so low for cars.

Thanks for the info from KBB about the 2007 DTS with 75,000 miles. It's good to have proof that the salesman was lying to me and that the car is overpriced. (On the dealer's website, he actually says "priced below KBB value"). I wonder how they can get away with lying like that, when these days anyone can go to KBB and other websites to check car values? Maybe I'll print out that info from KBB and tell the salesman I'll pay $13,800---take it or leave it. I'm fairly sure that a used car salseman will try to convince me that I'm misinformed or use some other slick excuse.

I'd already guessed that the used car salesmen have huge financial incentives to sell whatever cars happen to be on their lot, and probably little incentive to try to transport a vehicle from elsewhere. I wonder if I'll be able to find any used car salesman who will offer to help me with a vehicle that I find online. Maybe if I insist?

I suppose I have to be a really tough negotiator and learn how to bargain. I've never really bargained for anything before, so this won't be easy. I'm guessing that the key is to truly be willing to walk away from a price that I think is too high. Maybe I should inform them that I can always go to another dealership. Bargaining is a key point, here, isn't it?

Thanks again for all of the replies. I'm learning a lot here.

07-01-13, 04:16 AM
Hello Eva,

I've been following your problematic dilemma and only wish that I could offer the solution for you that would lead to the right Caddy DTS at the right dealership, thus getting you in a quality car with confidence that you will be happy with your purchase and self-assured that your future service needs will be handled professionally and with proper courtesy.

You have received some excellent assistance and advice from members who wish to help you. I'm sure that anyone here would accompany you to the dealer of your choice, if it were possible. Perhaps you have made enough inquiries, done enough web-surfing and feel more confidant now than when your search began. I certainly hope so.

If you have found another DTS within a reasonable driving distance that is appealing to you, I recommend that you give the dealership a call and ask pertinent questions concerning the vehicle you have found. There are certainly many sales representatives who are quite more professional and ethical than the sales rep at your nearby dealership. How he can be so rude, sexist and uncaring, yet remain a Cadillac sales rep, boggles my mind. I certainly would avoid him like the plague.

I truly hope that you find what you are looking for, soon. I'm sure that all here who have helped you are most eager for you to find your desired DTS and report back with the details so we all may rejoice with you.

Good luck and best wishes finding and acquiring the Caddy that fits your desires and expectations at a fair price. I look forward to hearing good news from you, soon.


ronm01 (Ron)

07-01-13, 09:10 AM
If you are close to the Dallas / Fort Worth area, I would be happy to accompany you in looking for a suitable automobile.
I have bought a LOT of cars in almost 70 years and have a good relationship with a couple of the Cadillac dealers around this area.


07-01-13, 09:23 AM
As you are in CA, you must have a variety of dealerships within driving distance that could assist you. Again, look on line for what you want and hopefully you will find it at a nearby dealership. If not, take the info to another nearby Cadillac dealership, or if you must, back to the dealership you have already been too. This time see only the manager and tell him of your previous dealings with the shady salesman. Either way, any dealership that is Cadillac standard, will have any Cadillac from any other Cadillac dealership shipped to them for sale to you. They will buy it, or trade it with the other dealership and make it theirs and then turn around and sell it to you......as long as they know you are willing to purchase it through them. I have done this 3 times without difficulty. In seeking a dealership, I would stick with only Cadillac, and would find a dealership that is connected nationally. Sonic automotive is national and includes alk Massey Cadillac dealerships. There are others such as GO dealerships. Just search on line. It will be well worth it to drive a short distance and find a reliable dealership. Again, if you must go back to your previous dealership.......go armed with information on exactly what you want and have found, take the auto trader trade in sheet with their quote, and see ONLY the used car manager. Begin by telling him of your horrible experiance and telk him your not goung to put up with it again. He may handle it himself, or assighn you to another salesperson. If he starts making excuses, run out of there and pretend they never existed in the first place. One of the reasons I have stuck with Cadillac is the way I get treated when I need service or it comes time to make another purchase. It has akways been above board and with the upmost respect. Orry about alk the mis spelled words but this is off my phone and my fat fingers keep hiting ither letters. Now go do it, and let us alk know what your driving next....pictures please.

07-08-13, 12:15 AM
I am looking at a '07 DTS right now for $15k that has 64k. It's a luxury II and seems to be fairly loaded but has no sunroof (which is the only thing I'd want that it does not have). I actually want the 275hp engine, geared for touring rather than performance and runs on 87 octane and gets surprisingly good gas mileage for a v8 in a 4000lb vehicle personally.

My advice as to purchasing is to shop around at all the areas dealers or respectable used car lots (if it's not certified, it doesn't have to come from a dealer!). See if other cars are similarly priced. If you find a similar car elsewhere for cheaper, that may mean they are asking too much. Considering I live in Massachusetts were cars are notoriously overpriced and I'm considering a DTS with less miles for much less money, I'd say they are asking too much for the car.

My advice after purchasing the vehicle is to find a good indy repair shop. They will save you a fortune over time.

07-12-13, 05:14 PM
I am looking at a '07 DTS right now for $15k that has 64k. ......................

My advice after purchasing the vehicle is to find a good indy repair shop. They will save you a fortune over time.

fps_dean, Hi. I am curious that where would you find a good indy repair shop in a small town? I mean that where one would look for in the yellow pages?


08-16-13, 11:21 PM
I too am a small town (pop 1400 on Monday) person, so I empathize with some of what you are going through. I just last week bought a nice certified 2008 DTS with 70Kmi from the dealer 70 miles away for $15K. Because of experiences friends have had and because this purchase will leave me with less disposable income I decided to add on the additional four year bumper to bumper warranty that tacked another couple thousand to the price, but on these cars it doesn't take too many service calls to eat that up.
The dealer here is Rydell Chevrolet/Cadillac (http://rydellchev.com) and has one of the best service centers I have ever seen. This was one of the reasons I bought from them. If you happen to be near North Dakota I would be happy to take a personal preliminary look at any of their DTS's for you. They are a non-dickering window price dealership which I sort of like.
Good luck on your hunt!