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Oasis Motor Co. offers tips on finding the best used cars

Curtis Hills of Oasis Motor Co. has stocked more used cars and SUVs than ever before to meet customer demand. Oasis Motor Co. is located at 3440 S. Padre Island Drive n Corpus Christi. Photo by Jane Kathleen Gregorio

Reliable transportation with a lower price tag. That’s the tried-and-true definition of the best in used cars, according to Curtis Hills, owner of Oasis Motor Co. in Corpus Christi. With 45 years of experience selecting just the right vehicles for his customers, Hills knows what to look for when it comes to stocking his car lot on South Padre Island Drive.

“Part of our buying is to recognize problems using different tools to find trouble-free cars and pass those on,” Hills said. “We check every car, test drive, find what needs to be repaired and do it.”

With the demand for SUVs and trucks continuing to grow in South Texas, Oasis Motor Co. has expanded its inventory to meet demand. Hills has brought in SUVs with third seat options and dual air conditioning along with four-door pickup trucks.

“We’ve doubled up on our vehicles,” Hills said. “We now have two to three of the same make and models in a variety of colors in anticipation that people might want to buy a used vehicle for holiday trips.”

Thanks to more than 20 different credit options, car buyers can take home a reliable used car from Oasis Motor Co. at a lower price. Hills and his sales team can put their customers behind the wheel with the best deals and interest rates available. Not to mention Hills is the only dealer in the area offering a free three-month or 3,000-mile warranty on every vehicle sold.

Known as the “Car Whisperer of Corpus Christi,” Hills is often called upon by family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even strangers for advice on how to buy a used car. He offered our readers the following six tips on doing just that.

1. Get the word out

Letting people know you are in the market for a used car is the first step in finding one, Hills said. Ask around and find out where your friends and coworkers purchased their cars.

“We each have our own stories to tell about getting our very first car,” Hills said with a laugh. “Most people will be glad to share how they got theirs. In fact, my neighbor just bought two vehicles. One he found on Craigslist, and another he found through a friend. And even though he didn’t purchase from me, he asked me for advice, and I offered it.”

2. Internet research

Anyone with a computer or smartphone at their fingertips can have access to any make, year and model at any price range with a single click, including cars listed at Hills warns, however, that internet purchases come with a bit of risk.

“If you buy something off the internet, you have to be very careful,” he said. “Even if the seller offers a money-back guarantee for 14 days, it's more difficult to return it if you had to spend hundreds to get it shipped from out of town and hundreds more to send it back.”

He suggests researching dealerships with the Better Business Bureau for customer feedback and using the CarFax service for a list of most dependable vehicles.

“If a person is not internet-savvy, they can go to the dealership and request a CarFax report on the vehicle they are interested in,” Hills said.

3. On-site research

At Oasis Motor Co., Hills hand-picks the vehicles for his lot.

“I like shopping for cars the old-fashioned way,” he said.Whether it’s inspecting trade-ins from different dealerships that aren't able to sell the car for whatever reason or going to auctions, I like to see, hear and touch the vehicle first. I put my stamp of approval before I buy it.”

Choosing a car from the thousands of selections at a dealership can be overwhelming, however. Hills suggests coming in with a specific body style and price range in mind.

4. List your priorities

When shopping for cars, consumers should decide what is most important to them in a vehicle: appearance, running condition, mileage or price? This is especially true when shopping for the younger generation.

“Parents bring their teenage drivers to my dealership searching for something safe, dependable and cheap,” Hills said. “Kids have different ideas with no concept of price. They want something flashy and sporty to impress or compete with their friends, and often it’s three times more than their parents can afford to spend.”

Before beginning the search, parent and child need to create a list of what they each want in a car and come up with a compromise decision.

5. Research financing options

Whether paying cash or making monthly payments, used vehicles are a less expensive alternative for the budget-conscious. While staying within a certain price range is important, Hills recommends carefully evaluating how wide that range can be.

“If you commit yourself to a certain budget you don’t want to exceed, you may be limiting yourself from better vehicles at just slightly higher prices,” Hills said. “Some cars may be cheaper but less reliable, while others slightly higher priced but better quality.”

Sometimes, a combo of cash and a small loan can bridge that gap and lead to a better buy. He suggests going to a credit union for low-interest loans.

6. Seek sound mechanical advice

A variety of factors can affect a car’s performance, such as wear and tear or maintenance neglect by a previous owner. The only way to know for sure is to have a computer analysis done on the car before you purchase it. Again, a CarFax report from the dealer includes information such as maintenance and oil change frequency.

For Hills, who has been working on cars since he was able to hold a tool, used cars offer the best investment value.

“A new car is used the minute you drive it off the showroom floor,” Hills said, not shying away from the term “used” for the industry euphemism “pre-owned” vehicle. “I’ve always said a used car is the best deal.”

Oasis Motor Co. is located at 3440 South Padre Island Drive. For more information, call (361) 853-7277 or (361) 852-6995. Visit the company’s website at

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