I Licked My Finger And I'm Holding It Up In The Spring Used Car Air

I’m trying to see if the winds are favorable for the used car shopper right now. My wife racks up 5,000 miles on her sled every 50 - 60 days and it won’t keep-on keep’n-on forever.

Poor economic conditions have recently turned the market into a “seller’s” market. Are we coming out of it now and going into a “buyer’s” market ?

Have you got a story about a recent good used car purchase you made or a good deal you’ve run across ?

Do you think it makes a huge difference as to the geographic / economic area in which one shops ? Do I have to travel and if so where are any hot spots ?

I’ll probably be looking at large GM cars with low miles and at most 3 model years old. I like to find them with a little warranty left, but if you’ve got an interesting story about any car, lay it on us.

Shop now or wait ?


As new car sales and leases plummeted beginning in 2007, the available supply of clean trade-ins and lease returns is rapidly dropping now…

However, large GM cars, what few of them there are, are not exactly flying off the car lots so there are plenty of deals out there.

My favorites are the Ford “Panther Platform” cars, Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Town Car…These front engine (a bullet-proof 4.6L OHC V8) rear drive, body-on-frame vehicles have been made virtually unchanged since 1992. What few weaknesses they had have been long-since worked out.

If FWD is a requirement, the big Buicks are almost as good but they don’t have the 300,000 mile staying power of the Panthers…

The market is still a dog, because 16 million people are out of work, and the congress has just failed to extend unemployment benifits for about 2.5 million of them.
Where you shop matters though, because in states hardest hit, there are a lot more re-poes available, but also because of salt on the road in north and eastern states.
I hope you find what you are looking for, and the wife gets a good safe low milage vehicle. Try Los Angeles.

Based on your vehicle preferences, I would consider a retired police cruiser. There are quite a few for sale and not all of them look like police cruisers.

I own 2 of them…Retired Colo. State Patrol cars, bought on e-bay auctions. These cars are indeed bullet proof, with the P71 police package. Heavy duty EVERYTHING. But they are not as comfortable or as quiet as their Crown Vic LS cousins. They will give 22-24 MPG on the highway but the slightly higher geared normal Vics will get 25-28…

I spend a lot of time in Mexico, driving on unimproved dirt roads (no, I’m not a drug dealer). These are the ONLY sedans that can take this pounding without falling apart. There is a lot of F-150 in a Crown Vic…

It sounds like what you want isn’t actually a cruiser for a uniformed officer. Maybe you should look at a sedan that was driven by one of the higher-ups in the police department.

I’m really partial to them too…I have yet to own or drive a car that I enjoyed running as much as these. The only reason I never bought one for personal use, was the combination truck/compact car for mileage syndrome that is hard to let go of.

Both Ford and GM I think are coming up with new cruisers. What ever they do, I’m sure they’ll be great too. The customers they are trying to attract demand it. This why I’ve always said that building less than great cars for the public was a choice these two companies made when it came to competing with foreign cars. They can certainly do it and have proven it for years with the better cruisers and superior over all full size trucks.


Enter “P71 Crown Victoria” into e-Bays search window. Many of these cars wind up in the hands of building inspectors, fire investigators, accident investigators, patrol supervisors, VIP escorts, airport security details, stuff like that. I avoid municipal squad cars which tend to be pretty much trashed. I never bid without actually looking at the car, which for many people is difficult.

"I avoid municipal squad cars which tend to be pretty much trashed."
I resent the implication. :slight_smile: Just because we left donut and twinkie wrappers, and chase speeders across open fields so far it had to be towed, let it be rammed when using it for an accident barrier, used it to pick up stray dogs and OUIs, who occasionally left their “insides” inside. and had to be hosed out. etc. And that the first year when it was “new”.



Thanks For All The Feedback. Intersting Discussion. As I Said, I Like To Find Cars With Some Warranty Left If Possible (CYA).

I stopped by a little car lot in a nearby small town and talked to the owner. He gets great cars at really good prices, selling for close to wholesale and he stands behind his sales. I bought my Bonnevillle there.

I asked how the market was in this area. He said used car availibility is not good and trucks are much worse (driving up used car & truck prices).

He has a number of 2009 GM cars (Examples: Chevy Impalas, Malibus, Cobalts, HHRs) with less than 30,000 miles at very good prices (close to 50% off new). He prefers them. He says that by buying the 2007 and newer GM cars that come with 100,000 mile / 5 year drivetrain warranties he can sell them on a lower profit margin at a better price. The warranties reduce his overhead because it relieves him from the expense of offering and then paying for expensive warranties / repairs. Interesting.


“He has a number of 2009 GM cars …”

We like our 2009 Cobalt LT1. It gets about 32 MPG on the highway. It’s hard to beat that car at $9000 or so. The only issue is the electric steering. If you turn lock to lock often, like parallel parking training, the steering will bind up. But parallel parking once or twice won’t do it. If you test drive one, see if you can make the steering bind. If it occurs after more exercise than you will give it, then it could be a good buy.