“A Deer Tried to Kiss Me Driving 40mph” (Help!)

beware deer sign
Woah! One of my deer friends (haha, get it?) just emailed me this below.  Take a gander and then let’s help her out! :)

SOOOOO remember about 1.5 years ago when I sent you a question about my grandfather buying me a car and how to handle it etc. etc.

WELL… I totaled another one.

A deer decided to try and kiss me while I was going 40mph down the road. She was unsuccessful in the kiss, but was successful in destroying my vehicle.

So now I’m in the market for another car. And this time I’m doing it on my own. I have $3600 to work with after they take out the $500 deductible.

My question is: given my history, my budget, and my current debt payoff/savings plan… how should I go about finding a new car? I’m not really sure where to begin.

Do you have any readers that specialize in this stuff? Any car experts? Anyone else with a crazy car murdering history like me?

Any help you can give me would be fabulous and much appreciated!

My fallback answer here is always Craigslist. I’ve bought or sold the last 4 cars of mine on CL alone, and if you have the patience you can usually find what you’re looking for.  I can’t stand going into dealerships (used or new) cuz their sales teams always drive me up the damn wall! There’s nothing worse than fake nice people… well, okay, there are – like mean-to-your face people – but you get what I’m saying.  It’s like strippers winking at you just to get you to think you’re special.  You’re not!  They just want your dirty money! :) Haha…

I’ve also had relatively good success w/ eBay, but usually only selling cars, not buying.  In fact this one time (in band camp), I actually sold a car that wouldn’t even start! It was missing an entire cylinder, but someone out there STILL wanted it! Haha… the guy paid me $1,000 in cash, and then fixed it all up and gave it to his teenage son :)  Just goes to show ya never know unless you give it a good try.

So that’s my boring answer to your car conundrum. Hit up Craigslist or eBay to start the search.  But what would you guys do in her spot?  Would LOVE to hear more creative ways myself for whenever I need a new (to me) car too!!  And since I like to go either real big, or real small, the $3600 price range is right up my alley as well :)  What do you have for her us?

PS: Also?  Get deer alerts for your car!

(Photo by gwydionwilliams)

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  1. John May 12, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    Craigslist is definitely the way to go. I have bought and sold a ton of cars on there, it actually turn into a “side hustle” for me. 3600 will take you a much longer way in the private market than at a dealer. I would say you could find a car that a used car dealer would sell you for 5-6k.. If your not to picky and want the best bang for your buck buy a Chevy Prism. It’s a rebadged Toyota Corolla, but resale much cheaper, you’ll probably even have money to spare after buying it.
    If you have a friend mechanically inclined bring him/her or set up an appointment with a local mechanic you trust to take a look at the car once your serious about buying it.

  2. Steph May 12, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I agree with Craigslist. I bought my car there and it’s been a good one. Be patient and $3600 doesn’t leave a lot of room to be picky.

    Side note on the deer alerts – my dad used to have them and they make a faint high pitched whistle. When I was a teenager, I always knew when he was a mile away so I could stop doing whatever bad thing I may be doing at the time. So I suppose they were teenager alerts too.

  3. Katie May 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Since I have always been a very “bad” girl and have bought all of my vehicles brand spanking new – (oh, the money I have wasted!) I really have no experience in this realm. However, I do think that looking at Craigslist and the local classified ads are a decent place to start.

    Also, ask around! Someone you know might know someone who might know someone who is trying to sell a car for about your price range!

    But! Whatever you do – either find a mechanic friend or a third party mechanic to inspect the vehicle before purchasing it. 3600 may not seem like a lot for a car, but it is still a lot of money!

  4. LLF May 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    CL is good. I think it also worth consider if she really need at car? Are the other ways of getting to work/school/where ever. If she only using the car on the weekends or on occassions, there are ZIPCAR type deals that maybe worth looking into, or at least for short term.

    I am the type that perfer not buying used cars since you don’t know how people have been driving them. But if buying a used car is absolutely necessary, car rental companies are good places to look also. Credit Unions have good rates for loans.

  5. J. Money May 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    @John – Chevy Prism? Interesting… I like to think I know most of the cars out there, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that one! haha… but hey, a deal’s a deal ;)
    @Steph – HAHAHH no way??? That is too funny. I used to have them on my old car (after a deer ran into ME! the thing tried jumping into my passenger seat! Almost knocked me off the road!) but keep forgetting to add on my current car. maybe this is a sign for me too? :)
    @Katie – Yup! And any person/dealer/company that gets frustrated or weird about you asking to have a 3rd party look at it is a huge red flag. It’s common practice to do that, and very very smart – even if you end up spending a few bucks and not getting the car. Saves you a lot more down the road! (although admittingly it does require some patience. if you’re like me when you get excited for something, the thought of spending hours verifying makes you wanna barf, haha… but still, you have to do it!:))
    @LLF – Oh yeah! ALL GREAT ideas!!! Zip cars are great, and so are credit union loans, thanks for bringing that up :) I remember Enterprise used to sell their “old” cars too, so maybe that’s a good place to start?

  6. Diane May 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    How do you sell a car on Craig’s List without getting ripped off? I will probably be doing this in the next 2-3 years, and would like to do a private sale of my car, but am fearful of CL. I know it’s the way to go, but am nervous. Any advice?

  7. Donna Freedman May 12, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Gotta share two wildlife v. car stories:
    A friend of mine up in Anchorage slowed to a stop because a huge bull moose was in the road. The moose looked at her car, put his head down and began pushing his giant rack (hee hee, I said “rack”) against the front of her vehicle as though it were a rival male to be fought. My friend backed up and got the hell out of there. I don’t think the car was injured.
    My brother was driving home when a flock of wild turkeys suddenly ran across the road. He hit the brakes but unfortunately also hit a turkey — and either its beak or one of its claws (I forget which) went through the grill of his car and punctured the radiator. That’s one expensive repair, all right. Everyone down in his neck of the woods (South Jersey) has hit a deer or almost hit a deer. But a turkey?
    See, that’s why I gave away my car: It’s a jungle out there! I’ll take my chances on the bus.

  8. aj May 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    keep your eyes open for any private sellers with For Sale signs in the windows. Check any local sources like our community has a weekly Traders Guide that people can advertise for free. CraigsList, eBay…we bought a used Ford F250 SuperCab on ebay for $1650.00 3 years ago. It was like a 3 hour drive away from us, so I was really nervous about it…but we asked questions, looked at lots of pics of it, and ran the VIN # thru CarFax to get as much info as we could before deciding to bid. It was a small repo company selling it. We won it and drove 3 hours down & drove it all the way back without any problems. Eventually little things started needing repaired but we have probably put $2k into it but that still makes it a good deal at $3650. I am sure it books for more than that still. My husband has used it as a work truck (no mercy) for the last 3 years and it is still going strong. That averages to just over $100 a month…a new truck payment would be 3X that!

    But it does help if you have the time to be patient & let the Universe have time to find that “perfect” car to send your way.

  9. JennyDee May 12, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    I just bought a new/used car two months ago. I put down $3800 (eerie coincidence??) and financed $9000 at 2.75%. I would have put down more, but I paid down a credit card $1000 instead (it’s at 11%).

    I searched used cars on autotrader.com, edmonds.com, carsoup.com, kbb.com and craigslist. It took me 17 test drives and 18 dealers, but I bought a 2009 Pontiac with 44K miles. I wanted a coupe, so it was mucho hard to find what I wanted in a used, reliable car. This is GM certified.

    The worst thing about buying used is having to drive each and every car to learn their nuances. I thought I knew what I wanted (Honda Civic, Impala, Taurus), found cool cars (VW Bug, Nissan) and ended up with something completely different. For me, combining a good price with good mileage (I’m getting average 29mpg) was optimal.

    I have a friend who has bought all her cars for cash, well below $4000. Each and every one has been cr*p. I think it may be the car lots she’s going to, more than the cars themselves. If you find a car you like, research it, have a mechanic look at it, check the VIN (but this doesn’t always list all the problems with a car, including not listing wrecks). I could have gotten a car for cash, but I didn’t want to have to go through the buying cycle again in five years. I want mine to last 8-10 like they have been.

  10. DanB May 12, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Stay away from car lots at that price range. I would get an idea of what you are looking for make/model wise before just looking for price. Make sure once you settle on what model you like that you dont just buy the first “nice” one you see and that you look up owners forums to find out common problems for the model and get possible good deals from the forum as well. Other than forums, Craigslist private sellers probably best bet. Dont be afraid of high mileage (150k plus miles) if it is Subaru, Honda, Toyota and has been obviously taken care of. Most import 4 cylinder cars use timing belts and a lot have interference engines, check history on that, many get neglected around that price range and if it breaks you may have expensive valve damage.

  11. Amy Saves May 12, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    I got lucky when I sold my car. My neighbor was interested in buying it from me. She gave me less than what I was asking for, but it worked out since she paid in cash and I didn’t have to wait for someone to buy it. Plus, some people on CL can be shady, just be careful you don’t get scammed.

  12. Ashley May 12, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    My family has had some luck selling cars through a mechanic. He’s willing to let the cars sit at his repair shop (and deal with the test drives and such) for a reasonable fee. If you know any reputable private mechanics they might have something similar going or know of someone who’s trying to sell.

  13. Brandi May 12, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Thanks J and to all of your guys for your advice! Hopefully I’ll have some great updates after this weekend :)

  14. The Monthly Budgeter May 12, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    I have had success selling cars in the local classifieds, so that may be a way to go. However with the decreasing newspaper subscriptions, Craigslist or Ebay could be great options. I know a friend that bought a Mustang on Ebay for a great price. It just takes time to find the deal that fits you.

  15. Jenna May 13, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    My boyfriend sold his vehicle last year via Craigslist and was happy with that. He had two interested parties…turned out that they were a married couple…the husband was looking for himself, and the wife was looking as a surprise for her husband. :-)

    I also have family members who have purchased cars on eBay and have gotten some good deals. Either way, you’ll have to be careful about who you’re buying from, and definitely get a second opinion on the car.

  16. J. Money May 13, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    @Diane – Yeah, be sure to listen to your gut and just lay out everything you need to be comfortable with the situation :) For example, request all cash or cashier’s check, over personal check. Or better yet, go with the buyer to the bank to have them issue it directly to you. Stuff like that. You can never be too careful when talking with prospective buyers, but you can put lots of barriers up that would possibly detract the jackals. When I sold my Highlander, I made the guy bring me $16k or so in pure hard cash :) Had him meet me at my bank where the loan was still at, and hand it right to the teller (it was a bag fullllll of money!!! hahaha…). That way, if something was wrong we’d find out ASAP and it was at the bank where things can be caught. It’s annoying as hell as the buyer, esp if he’s 100% trustworthy, but if they want it that bad they’ll take the extra steps. And you can get a good feeling for someone after spending some time going back and forth in negotiations, test-driving, etc etc. Always have someone with you for back up and extra opinions too :)
    @Donna Freedman – Hahahaa… wow. I would REALLY not leave the house if I were confined to a bus! I’m way too lazy for that ;) Save you crap tons of money though, that’s for sure!
    @aj – Great great advice, tanks AJ! So true on that “universe” thing too – the more time and patience you have, the better odds of finding the “right” one :)
    @JennyDee – Haha wowwwwww that’s some good research! Dang girl. I lose focus after 5-6 test drives! :) Very impressive though, you’ll be sure to reap those rewards! And good call on paying off that high % c/c too, that’s dope.
    @DanB – YUP! all great great pieces of advice – thanks man! Esp on nasty car lots… those are the worst.
    @Amy Saves – Does it ever get weird seeing your car in the wrong driveway? haha… hopefully it doesn’t break down anytime soon too – that would suck.
    @Ashley – Oooooh now THAT’S an idea!!! Wow. Would have never thought up that one. I’d totally pay a mechanic to do that for me! Not only for the convenience, but the fact that he’s a mechanic too! If he knows the car, he would win over prospective buyers every time! Would be hard not to trust him, haha… as long as he’s a “good” one.
    @Brandi – Yes, please let us know! Glad you’re finding these useful – I am too!
    @The Monthly Budgeter – Yup! You actually reminded me that I bought my last car there actually! Shipped it from Florida all the way up to Virginia :) Great great car too, miss it.
    @Jenna – NO way!! haha… at first I thought you were gonna say that they were both “in it” together to try and get the price down or something, haha… not that I now how that would work? But what a great story :) I like that.

    Reminds me of my uncles who once were trying to outbid eachother for a watch that was being sold all the way out in the UK. None of them ever used eBay much, but for whatever reason the were UNKNOWINGLY trying to outbid the other for it! Haha… the only way they found out? At a family reunion. The winner was wearing it and it caught the loser’s eye!!! hahhaha…. so crazy.

  17. Brandi May 16, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Hey J,

    Just an update: Last week/weekend, after spending a LOT of time on craigslist, kelley blue book, and wikipedia (I don’t do cars…so I had to look up the ones that didn’t have pictures to see what they were) I narrowed my search down to what I thought I wanted.

    I knew I wanted a small SUV. I liked the look, the space, and the idea that it might take more than a kiss from a deer to destroy it! So then I started searching by make/model on craigslist and using the information to go back and forth from the ads to kelley blue book I found a bunch of used Kia Sportages that were reasonably priced.

    I went to a couple of private owners first, but none of them were willing to wait until my insurance check came in. So I continued to shop. At a small dealer in Missouri I found one with only 75,000 miles on it priced within my budget. So I went and test drove it. I took the boyfriend because he is a serious negotiator! Dave Ramsey would love him. We got him talked down enough to be able to cover taxes and fees with the insurance check too.

    I put down a $200 deposit. AND should be picking it up this next weekend, pending the insurance of course.

    SO that’s my story.

    Hopefully you won’t get another email from me regarding the destruction of this car anytime soon. I’m hoping to make it AT LEAST 2 years with this one!

    Thanks for all your help and your readers’ advice!

  18. J. Money May 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Glad it worked out, Brandi! Thanks for letting me share your story/questions around ;)