Buying A Car For Dummies

Tate Larsen, Staff Writer

I am a big fan of panther platform cars which include the Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car, but since I learned about one very special panther I have always wanted it. Ford resurrected the Mercury Marauder for a short span in 2003-04. It had the heart of the Mach 1 and Cobra Mustangs, a 4.6l 4 valve V8 that made 302hp. The Marauder stole my heart.

I needed to have a Marauder for my own, so I started looking for them all over the internet with my dad’s help. 

The experience taught me how to buy a car, but not brand new.

Tip 1

Do not settle on the first one you see. We looked for a good three months before finding one we liked and wanted to look at, but it was in Chicago. Because Chicago is not very close and we did not have the luxury of quick access to see the car in person, we had the owner send us extra photos. 

Tip 2

It never hurts to have more photos. We asked for photos of the underside of the car. Chicago has snow and the salt used to melt that snow equals rust. The photos made us interested enough that we decided to drive to Chicago.

Tip 3

If you are serious enough to drive long distances to look at the car, it never hurts to look at two. Maybe you will like that one more. First, we looked at a silver Marauder. Then, the original one we found, a black one. 

Tip 4

Walk around the car and notice any damage. Does the car need new tires? Is the paint faded or chipped? Is there excessive rust, especially if the car has been in the Midwest like Chicago? Does the AC work? Does the heat work? Is the motor running fine? All things to check for. 

Tip 5

Take the car on a test drive. Does the car run smooth? Any weird noises? 

Tip 6

Ask the owner questions to understand the story of the car. The car I bought, the black Marauder, needed new tires. Even if the heater was off it would still blow hot air out of the vents. These details emerged as I observed the car and talked with the owner.

Tip 6

I asked if he would be willing to come down to $7,500 from his original $9,000 asking price and he agreed. You can negotiate with some people but some will not budge and do not completely insult people by low balling them. Make sure you have the budget to pay what they want if they do not budge.

Sometimes you will miss something. Other details are not discovered until later. My Marauder may burn a little oil, which I could not have found out from a small test drive.