Dear PoPville – Where to Buy a Used Car?

“Dear PoPville,

It looks like we’ve never done a post on used car dealers. Where are the most reliable non-Craigslist places to buy a used car?”

28 Comment

  • carmax baby

    • +1. I got my car there about 5 years ago. While they may not be the absolute lowest-price place, they have a huge selection and seem like a decent and honest operation. My car’s been pretty much hassel-free since I bought it and they even registered it in DC for me without an extra charge, which sure beat going to the DMV.

      • absolutely not. I bought an Acura from them with 40k miles, and it died BEFORE I DROVE IT OFF THE LOT. The electrical system was completely shot, and had clearly not been checked during their “through inspection.” No apologies, just a crappy loaner for 5 days while they found a different one. I’ve had the second vehicle for 2 weeks and the brakes are sqeaking…just means 2 more 45 min drives each way to Laurel MD for more bad service on a problem that should have been identified by their inspectors.

        Did i mention they completely botched the DC registration paperwork? Yup, more waiting at the DMV on a Saturday morning…

        • Agreed. I purchased a “thoroughly inspected” CarMax car that was later found to have been wrecked. Lots of electrical problems, water intrusion issues, and the transmission dumped out about 4k miles after leaving their lot.

          All in all a 23k CarMax car has now had about $21k in repairs that any inspected vehicle should have had caught during inspection.

          Their customer service when you have issues is a mix between Bank of America, Comcast and Satan.

    • I loved my Carmax experience… until it came time to sell. Turns out my Toyota Sequoia had been involved in a minor accident before I bought it at Carmax… their “carfax” knockoff didn’t find it.

      The local dealerships/consignment lots said that trying to go after carmax for the loss in resale value (~$2k-$3k) is pointless…

      So, I love carmax. Just do your own CARFAX (at your own expense) to be sure that you aren’t surprised when you go to re-sell.

      Oh, and and ebay Motors are both decent places to search

  • Certified from a dealer. No question. Buying used is the way to go, but dont try to get the cheapest thing out there. If you buy a late model used car from a dealer that sells those cars, you’ll get a couple grand off sticker and the “certification” thrown in which will get you a pretty good warranty.

  • Had a great experience 5 years ago at Fitzgerald Auto Mall on Rockville Pike near White Flint. No dickering, great service, and got an excellent deal on a low-mileage car. They include (or did then, at least) two free oil changes a year for the entire time you own the car. Not a bad deal for used!

  • you can buy my car. what are you looking for?

    • Ditto – my boyfriend and I are trying to condense to one car and he’s trying to sell his 2005 Jeep Liberty Sport with ~85K miles on it.

      Any tips on how to sell your car without using Craigslist?

  • Research online. The sites and are great places to start. You can filter out by private sellers or dealers. As somebody stated, CarMax is a great way to go if you are not in the mood to haggle and you want a certified car. They also offer better trade-in value for your old car.

    Do not buy anything from a DC lot, ever. Even if your friend did and the guys were great and he got an awesome deal. It’s not worth the risk and is usually a scam (hidden vehicle history, etc).

    • They do not offer a better price for your trade in! Last year when I moved to the city, I took my 07 MKZ to Carmax. It’s trade in value from Kelly Blue Book was listed at $19,000. They offered me $13,000.
      Carmax is a terrible rip-off.

  • At Eastern Motors, your job’s your credit….

    I actually would never buy from them, but they have the best ads.

  • From me! White 2001 Outback LTD with 91k miles. Asking $5000 obo. If you’re at all interested, email PoP and I hope he will hook us up.

  • saf

    My credit union offers a buying service that does both new and used cars. I bought my car this way. Got a good deal with no stress.

  • jim_ed

    Only suckers buy from CarMax. Their prices are consistently 20% above standard market pricing, and they justify it because they aren’t aggressive and don’t hassle like so many used car dealers do, so people feel comfortable buying there. is the place to look. If you’re looking for a really good deal, I suggest expanding the search area to 200 miles and see what comes up. For whatever reason, used cars in the philly / S Jersey area sell for 10-20% lower than around here. If you do your homework a day trip out there can save you some serious cash. When we bought our Chevy, we payed 17,500 for it out there, when comparable ones here in the DC area were selling for $22,000.

  • pennyworth

    well i just got a used ’06 mustang from koons. it was a nice experience.

    • I bought my ’07 Camry last year from Koons in Arlington. They had HORRID, HORRID customer service the whole way through, from looking at the car, to the price, to the warranty, to getting the DC certification, to getting my license plates off my trade in etc was… to quote Pop-Up Owner above, a mixture of Bank of America, Comcast and Satan.

  • Haggle at your local dealership. Carmax is for people who like to overpay for things. Use kbb, edmunds, and autotrader, etc to get a general idea of the price of the car and negotiate a deal you’re happy with in the end.

  • I will put in a plug for Dexter McDougle at Malloy Mazda in Woodbridge. We went there to help a young friend find a car to purchase, and he was great to work with, and she got a quality car.

  • Based on my research and more importantly, what I’ve heard from family and friends (who know more than I do), it is the best online place.

  • Just curious, why exclude craigslist? Is it the ‘unknown’ factor of dealing with any yahoo that wants to post an ad?

  • Friends and family.

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