Most of us have had fun conversations around the question, “What would your dream house be like?” Swimming pools, indoor roller coasters, bowling alleys, escalators, cooks, maids, the whole nine yards. We know we’d never actually have a swimming pool and a bowling alley in our basement unless we become President of the United States, but still, it is so fun to dream.

We also probably have a dream car. Picture yours. Dream color? Do you dream of luxury, speed, or power? Every dream car is different, but while we might not be able to get that limo with a jacuzzi in the back, we can get a car that checks the most important boxes and that you will love to drive. And you can do it for the right price if you are willing to do some work and open your mind. Here are some suggestions to get closer to the dream:

5 Ways to Find a Used Car You Love at a Price That Works

(Gustavo Fring/Pexels)

Shop Out of State

The internet has turned the entire country into your used car lot. Look around! Try searching for used cars in Utah, and you might find a lower price version of that car you’ve been looking at in your home state. Car prices vary from state to state, and comparison shopping is always a good idea when it comes to your next vehicle. When a dealer knows you are willing to shop around for a better price, even if it means a road trip to pick it up, they will be more eager to negotiate with you.

If you do find a winner in another state, take time to research the process of getting the car back home. It might mean temporary printing tags or another type of transfer documentation. You’ll want that sorted out before you head out to pick it up.

Police Auctions

This might be a rare option, but there is a chance to get a real steal (see what we did there) on a great car at a police auction. These are not cars that have been involved in any major crime. No mob bosses will be coming after you to get that body out of the trunk or anything.

They are simply vehicles that have been impounded by the police, and the owners didn’t have the money to get them back. This is a tactic that takes time and patience, steadily watching the auctions for something that looks interesting. It isn’t a method that will work if you are in a hurry to get a car, but it could help you find a hidden treasure.

Rebuilt Title Cars

This is a fantastic option that involves no crime at all. Rebuilt title cars are cars that were involved in an accident that rendered it “totaled” by the insurance company. This puts the vehicle in a “branded title car” category, which limits insurance options, even if it is drivable.

In the hands of trained professionals, that car can get a new life, and you can reap the reward! These are often newer cars with mostly cosmetic damages that can be repaired by professionally trained builders. A rebuilt title car means that qualified technicians have repaired the car and restored it to pass the required inspections to be re-titled and fully insurable, with financing options at most credit union institutions. These vehicles can often be an amazing value. Just be sure that the rebuilt title dealership is reputable. Read all the reviews and ask plenty of questions.


If you use any of the above methods, negotiation is still key to getting a price that works for you on a car you love. Whether it is in-state, out-of-state, or over the internet, always do some comparison shopping and negotiating. Be a curious shopper and ask lots of questions about the car’s history. If there is anything in the car’s history that concerns you, use that as a tool in the negotiation process.

Negotiating is not a tactic that can work well if you are in a hurry. Compare prices and use those prices to try to get a dealer or private party to match a deal. It takes more time, but being patient in the negotiation process can help you land the dream car at a workable price.

Start Saving Now. . . Pay Cash Later

Paying cash on a car will save you money. It means no interest and puts you in a great place for bargaining. But paying cash demands some patience. If you know exactly what kind of car you want and are willing to work and wait for it, then you can make it happen. Start a savings account with just that car in mind. Set up an automatic transfer from your bank account into that savings account. Some programs will “round up” every purchase you make and put that little bit of change into an investment or savings account. Every little bit helps!

These approaches can help you get a great deal on a car you love. They also can take some time, which time might mean examining your vehicle priorities. The best way to spend too much money is to make a car decision in a stressful rush. There are some ways to remove the stress and panic from the decision.

Evaluate the chapter of your life

Is this the phase for your dream car? Or is this the time for a different kind of car and putting away savings for that dream car when the time is right? If you need a car immediately for transportation, it might be better to go for the best deal on a car that works right now.

Give yourself time. Research, test drive, and ask questions. Make a priorities list. Does color matter most? MPG? Safety? List 10 qualities of your ultimate dream car and then put those in order of importance. There might be another car out there that fits your budget that hits the top five, and that might be good enough for now, while you keep saving for the ultimate dream.

Many of our dreams come true, and many don’t. We won’t take flight like we do in our dreams, and we might not get a roller coaster in our backyard. The Ferrari might not happen next week, but it doesn’t mean that a car that makes us very happy can’t happen next week. The car of your dreams can be possible, or at least a very dreamy car, if you are willing to put in the time and work. And in the meanwhile, you just keep saving for that Ferrari.


Envisioning our dream car’s unique features, like color, luxury, speed, and power, inspires us to turn it into reality. With an open mind and effort, exploring used cars in different states, and seeking opportunities at police auctions and rebuilt car dealers, we can find fantastic deals. Negotiation is crucial for a favorable price, while saving up and paying cash enhances bargaining power. By employing these strategies and patience, we move closer to our dream car within budgetary limits.

5 Ways to Find a Used Car You Love at a Price That Works


5 Ways to Find a Used Car You Love at a Price That Works