Used Car, Car Fax and A Trusted Mechanic...FWIW

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Star*, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi All....

    I have made no bones over the last 28 years about "American" cars only. So it's been a rough wait to find just the right vehicle for myself on my budget. I've also scrimped and saved and thought I had enough to venture out and test drive a nice, older, used, low-mileage vehicle.

    So off we went Friday. The body was decent. The mileage was about average (did air math), the interior was clean considering someone detailed it - it still came out nice, and it had minor things wrong for being 10 years old, but fixable. We drove it, I listened for bumps, whirrs, the usual old car noises - nothing major. Then I asked if I could take it to MY mechanic. Same man I've had the last 15 years. They said "Of course." I gave a deposit, wrote on the check [refundable pending mechanic inspection] and left.

    I called my mechanic this morning. I had the vin# and was going to purchase a Car Fax. He said not to waste my money. I was surprised. The $30.00 you spend ONLY covers REPORTED accidents. Say you get in a fender bender, and the frame is bent and Joe blow says his Dad is a body repair guy and doesn't report it to Car Fax, does a so-so body job and the frame isn't pulled out correctly and now the car 'looks' good to the naked eye, but dog tracks? Your alignment will never be right. WOW - who knew. It won't tell you if it's been in Louisiana in a FLOOD....either.

    So instead I took the car in to my mechanic and had a total stem to stern inspection up on the lift, in and out all buttons and gizmos horn, everything looked at with a trained eye and hooked up to the computer...and GUESS WHAT? He charged me $37.50 for 1/2 and hour and GUESS WHAT?

    That $2300.00 SUV needs over $3000.00 worth of parts and work - (and that's if I go and get the parts out of a junk yard) with his labor.
    The 4x4 didn't work in low, the rear main seal leaked, the transfer case seal leaked, the oil pan gasket leaked, the serpentine belt had a crack in it, the module for the door switches was bad, the head light was broken, the drivers mirror cable was broken, the cruise control module was on warranty from the dealer but never installed - so that said SOMEONE never took care of their vehicle. The brake fluid was low, So low it was OUT, The steering column needed replaced, the tires had been rotated, but the rear ones leaked, and were bald, the windshield was cracked, and minor little things - but to fix the 4x4 alone was over $1000.00 so....add it all up - and oh - the little key fob for in and out of the car to lock it? didn't work either - they had a tester for that too.

    So for $37.50? I saved $2300.00 on my car and $3k in repairs that would have been needed in less than 6 months.

    Just thought I'd pass that info on to anyone that thinks about buying a used car. I mean I can't afford the $40 right now either - but to think that I'd be in the hole for $3k in the future just makes me so happy knowing I did something smart - Just had to share.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Smart! very, very smart!!!
  3. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    You just can't beat having a trusted mechanic in the "family"...mine recently retired, and I'm crushed. Every used car I've purchased for the last thirty years (with the exception of Hubby's POC SUV, aka the very expensive mistake), I've gotten from him.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Well done!

    We have a vacant block of land over the road from us. It has ocean views, it is smooth sand with no rocks, it can never have the view built out. We nearly bought that block, but couldn't afford it.

    Then about 15 years ago maybe, a shonky real estate guy had the block bulldozed to get rid of all the trees on it and present the block as smooth sand, ready to be built on. BUT - he pushed all the trees to the ocean side where the land suddenly slopes down a little, piled up the timber just over the edge of the slop (the far edge of the property line) and covered it over with a layer of sand. Looking at the block casually, it looked smooth, level and clear. But the back third of the property, right where people would want to build, was now a sand-covered pile of rotting termite-ridden timber. The estate agent then hired a light plane and took arial photos, sold the property on that basis.
    Since then the vacant blocks on either side have been bought and built on with no trouble (despite having trees). A lot of the bulldozed trees have begun to grow back, and a lot of rubbish plants have blown in and seeded. But we have seen this block change hands about six or seven times now, and nobody has got very far with building. One owner put a caravan on the place (officially as a works office; unofficially, as somewhere to stay over summer - illegal) and began to level an area in a safer location. But he gave up and moved on. He owned it for the longest period of any owner - about five years. This block tends to change ownership every year or two. Very sad.

    By now, much of the buried trees will have rotted down but the land will still be unstable to build on. Meanwhile the price rises as each owner tries to at least recoup costs. We could have bought it for $25,000. Now - ten times that. Maybe 20 times that. The price tag, not the value!

    Never buy anything without checking it out very carefully first. A walk over this block with a pole pushed into the ground here and there would show this problem up in a heartbeat.

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You Smartypants!!!

    You are totally right about CarFax. When it first came out it was a very good thing. But there there were some floods, and some places stopped reporting to CarFax because then it was harder to sell the cars. Used to be the oil change places here all reported to Car Fax. Now none do unless you want to pay a service fee. I ran a car fax on MY car when we did a trade in once, because the dealer said it showed a lot of bad things and we hadn't had any accidents or anything. The dealer was lying, tried to show us one on a different car and I could see where he had used white out to put our VIN in there and then make a copy - the fool), but Car Fax showed NOTHING at all on our car. Not even the dealer service that my parents had done when they owned it first.

    ALWAYS as your mechanic first if a car is worth buying. And before you trade yours in ask your mechanic what a good trade in value is. Usually they can give you a good value, and you can use that to negotiate.
  6. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    As someone who grew up fixing cars with all her mech family members - best dang forty bucks you could spend!!! Good for you for not taking it from a car dealer. ALWAYS go to YOUR mechanic you TRUST. ALWAYS!!!

    Never ever buy a used vehicle without having a trusted mechanic check it bumper to bumper and top to bottom. EVER!!! On top of that, go to the government regulators to get a full car history (license bureau) not just a half history.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im telling you Star, hit craigslist in the Difficult Child area and look for deals up there. Go for the cars from mid 90s or so because they have to do emissions testing on them up there and most wont pass so they sell them for dirt cheap. We dont have to do emissions testing until it is 10 years or newer so we dont have that problem. You can have Jamie go look at one if it really sounds good. If you decide you really decide you are interested, we can run up and stay with him to go get it.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Does this mean we gets a road trip? (eagerly wishing)

  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member



    Love Thelma
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911

    HOT DOG!!!!!!! I'm checking CL as we converse!