Used car shopping on the Internet can be an adventure

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

I recently started looking online for a car and so far there are a lot of vehicles to be found on Craigslist. But finding the right car, while wading through the endless listings on the Internet classifieds site, can be trying.

There are so many options on Craigslist if you’re looking for a good deal on a car through a private owner. Finding that deal can be a challenge, because for every one good vehicle out there you have to filter through a lot of lemons.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve had to sift through:

• I was looking at a 2003 Ford Focus which had a couple of good selling points, like the fact it gets 33 miles per gallon and has “very quick acceleration”, but then there are the points that are cause for some concern like the fact it “leaks some coolant” and the interior has some stains and cigarette burns. The seller is quick to point out, however, the car has a pricey CD player with a remote control and nearly new tires. Still I have to back up to that coolant leak and ask myself if a nice stereo and tires is going to change that.

• Another owner of a Ford Focus calls his vehicle “a strong running car” that gets great gas mileage and the interior is in good shape. But he has nothing more to really say about the car which makes me wonder if it’s a case of “if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all.”

• The owner of a 1995 Aurora says the car runs and drives great, but it has a few minor cosmetic blemishes and there’s a large stone crack in the windshield. These “ blemishes” may be part of the reason there are no close-up photos of the car shown — everything is shown from a distance. On the positive side it’s had a recent tune up and oil change. I just know with my luck I’d be looking at a ticket for that cracked windshield while I was test driving it.

• There’s a 1999 Jeep Cherokee listed. Says it runs great. But it “neds (sic) a muffler and willl (sic) need tirez (sic) soon.” I know, it’s just a Craigslist ad and it’s not like I don’t make spelling and grammar errors, but it just looks like somebody was in a big hurry to get this posted.

• A 1998 Chevy S-10 is listed, it shows a lot of strong points in its description, but it says here the gas gauge always reads full. The next sentence says it get “great gas mileage.” I’ll bet it does.

• Not too sure about this one. It’s a Jeep Cherokee which is shown only in one photo taken from the driver’s side … in the dark. The write-up says “call anytime.” I’m thinking about testing that out and calling at 3 a.m. one morning to see if he’s serious.

• There’s a sharp 1996 Eagle Talon shown, no details or price listed, just a picture with close up of its custom rims. I guess the car is supposed to sell itself based on looks alone. Next!

So the search continues to find the right used car. I just hope I can survive the process and live to enjoy the thrill of a new set of wheels.

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