Buying from a small-town car lot

I am looking at a Lexus from a small-town car lot. The town only has 2,500 people. I have no problem with the year, mileage or price really. I just have two different thoughts on the matter because it has been sitting for 57 days on the lot.

My first worry is that there is something wrong thus why it is still sitting on the lot. In the process of securing a pre-inspection with a mechanic. The second thought is that the vehicle (luxury SUV) isn’t that type of market along with being such a small town.

I tend to get away from big cities and drive if needed to find a good vehicle in a smaller town. Cars from bigger cities has always given me pause. The type of driving, lack of care, accidents. etc. Unlike an older couple in a small town who drove it 10K a year.

Anyone else have similar opinions or thoughts about it.

Well it’s a small town and a car that is not very popular with the general population. You’d have to figure that it will take a while to sell a car like that. I’m not sure two months would be excessive. One thing though would be some of these small town mechanics like to get cars that are repairables so I would check on that somehow-body work for sure.


Just because the dealer is in a small town doesn’t mean the car is from there.

Heck, being a small town maybe it’s a stolen car with a forged title and VIN tags.

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Several of the lowish mileage cars on a dealer’s lot in a small town 20mi from here are from the regional dealer auction. Or trade in’s from snowbirds that bought the car in Arizona.

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I seriously hoping your being sarcastic.

I know and understand dealerships from small to large take their vehicles to the auction and buy them from auctions as well getting wholesale cars from bigger dealerships that wasn’t able to sell them. In my area a local dealer will sell a vehicle for a X amount but drive a bit to a smaller town and you can find one cheaper. One reason is overhead. Old Jim Bob who sells his cars doesn’t have a hundred employees, a large advertisement budget, etc. He also doesn’t have to pressure people into buying as he doesn’t have a monthly quota. He is better off getting repeat buyers with great customer service and not with pushy sales tactics.

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Valid. On the other hand, you’re not from that small town. He doesn’t have to make sure not to cheat you, so if he’s of that inclination, guess who his preferred victim is gonna be. :wink:

Barring known bad actors, I wouldn’t worry about the geographic location of the car. I’d worry about its title history (i.e., suddenly being retitled from Louisiana to Kansas 3 months after a hurricane causes massive flooding might be reason to pause) and I’d worry about its condition, which you should verify by taking it to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection.

As to why a Lexus would sit on the lot that long? Yeah, @bing had it right. Small town, no one wants to drive a Japanese luxury car, and until that Lexus becomes an F150 it’ll be hard to move. That’s an advantage to you - dealership might take a lower than standard offer for it just to get rid of it.


Certainly Supply & Demand and Dealers overhead affect the used car price but there’s other factors so the general higherarchy for trade-in is:

  1. The clean, low mileage, low age, in demand vehicles stay at the new car dealer’s used car lot.
  2. The less desireable but still easily saleable one’s go to a national wholesale auction, open to only dealers, like Mannheim.
  3. The older, more problematic, high mileage, requiring significant repair, go to what we called the “Country Auctions”. Typically a smaller rural auction which supplied the “Budget” and “Buy Here/Pay Here” dealers.

With a National, Internet based used car wholesale market, the Used Car Dealer’s physical location hardly matters because their stock may have come from anywhere in the US.

Additionally, the Used Car market is a highly organized and competitive market so if a used car dealer can’t “move” a particular car at a particular location, instead of “giving it away” it will go simply go back to auction.

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Car scams can come from anywhere… in my experience, less likely from a small town because everybody knows everybody else. Scammers won’t last long. Dishonest dealers won’t survive either.

That said, small town dealers do not have the overhead costs that a big city shop would so they can offer lower prices. I personally think it is a great place to car shop.

An note, I worked in a town of 3800 for 5 years. Kids rode their bikes to school and none were locked up. No one locked their cars or even their homes.


Worry more about the condition of the SUV than who is selling it. If you like it enough to buy it, take it to a mechanic of your choosing and have a prepurchase inspection done. The dealer needs to know what you are doing, of course, because you will have the car all day. It might help to tell them that you will buy it if it checks out well. At $100+ for the inspection, you better want it or the money is wasted. If they complain about your prepurchase inspection, tell them that of course you trust them, and you are verifying what they told you.


How far away is the nearest Lexus dealer? If it’s not close, that would be one sensible reason why the car wouldn’t sell quickly. (Where I live, it’s 75 minutes to either Lexus dealer, which tends to limit the number of them that I see on the roads here.)

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The nearest Lexus dealer would be roughly 75 miles away. I had thought about going to the Lexus dealership however a Lexus through them that is a few years newer with 209K miles are close to 2K more expensive. Get a few years older, less miles, and at a better price, I am willing to do the leg work to check the history of the vehicle thoroughly and drive the distance.

Thank you everybody for this great discussion and your thoughts on the topic.

I know used vehicles are priced way too high now but why do you need a used lexus with lots of miles and maybe a repair shop problem if you need it.

Lexus SUVs are heavily based on Toyota SUVs, so the mechanicals should be familiar to any good mechanic that works on Toyotas.

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I was driving our current vehicle a 2007 Nissan Murano when the driver side wheel came off. I am looking at a Lexus as they are reliable, comfortable, and have features that are useful and what I like. The Lexus does have some higher mileage at 162K however it isn’t uncommon to see Lexus with 250K or more with good maintenance. I wouldn’t say I am dead set on a Lexus, if I could find one with the features, comfortable, and reliable I would be just as interested.

RX350? A lot better that a Nissan but don’t expect too much from a vehicle with high miles.

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It is a RX330. I am still continuing to look at vehicles

The RX is a nicer version of the Highlander, you might see if you can get a newer Highlander for the same $$ (but I admit buying an ES300 instead of a Camry, so I understand if you want an RX).

With proper maintenance any modern car can go 200,000 miles and 15 years and I keep my cars that long but I buy new, drive carefully and am a stickler about proper maintenance, all of which contributes to reliable problem free mileage.

You didn’t give the year of the Lexus you’re looking at but I’d be very leery of buying any vehicle over 150,000 miles without complete documentation, a through inspection and some kind of mechanical warranty, especially any “Luxury” mark.

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