Buy a USED CAR without getting RIPPED OFF

You’re probably owned a used car, maybe even bought one yourself: when the time comes, everyone wonders… what’s the trick to buying a used car without getting ripped off?

The best trick is having a mechanic come look at the car.  Out of sheer complacency, almost nobody is doing this. There are people who know a ton about cars, and they are everywhere, and a simple post to Craigslist or Angie’s List will fulfill this need quickly.

There is nothing worse than to buy a used car based on the positive words of the people selling the car.  People minimize the issues, downplay, ‘forget to mention’, and even straight-up lie. No one sells you a car and first lists the entire roster of things that don’t always work just right.  They don’t talk about better options in other cars you could buy.  They don’t tell you about the problems with this model of car that are looming.  They smile, warm you up, and stick their hand out for cash.

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Buying a used car is a great idea, but it’s a situation; and situations require business-like mentalities; problem solver stuff.  Consider that even replacing the door seals on a window could cost you $400 in parts alone!

I know an excellent mechanic who can overhaul engines and repair just about anything on any automobile. In conversations we have come to one conclusion: the dumbest thing you could do is buy a car without an expert opinion, here’s why:

Mechanics have seen it all, first hand – some people buy used cars and soon after, they bring the car to him because something isn’t working right.  As a mechanic, he starts to dig into the problem a little, and the small problem is usually tied to a few other problems.  The person begins racking up a multi-thousand dollar repair bill.  Don’t let this thwart you from buying used: as we have mentioned in previous articles, buying used is the ONLY WAY TO GO, because it will save you OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS over a lifetime (see article here 23. The REAL COST of CARS — PART 1 : PRICE )

There are a lot of reasons people sell cars.
Some of those reasons are GREAT for you as a buyer.

They just want a shinier, newer car
They feel like an new car would give them a new ability, like off-roading, a truck to haul stuff, an SUV to haul more kids, or a sports car to fulfill their quest for awesomeness.
They just have an ingrained idea that people should buy new cars based on reasons other than their old car has problems.
They have the excess money, and just don’t care!

These are the used cars you want to buy.

There are a lot of reasons people sell cars that are DETRIMENTAL for your situation, and most of those problems involve massive sums of money for repairs.

Transmission acts funny (need a rebuild?)
sometimes engine shakes (motor mounts maybe?)
engine dies sometimes (engine rebuilds aren’t that cheap)
car is getting leaky, squeaky, and old (exterior repairs add up)
car type is notoriously problematic (the repair costs have beaten them to death already)
car was used hard (converted to a drifter then back again? not good!)
repeat user error (car has been in a half-dozen wrecks, something is off!)
seasonal problem you can’t see in the current season (weak A.C., selling car in the winter)
a rare functional problem sometimes happens, it terrified them, then the problem disappeared!

If you have REAL mechanic look over a used car you are about to purchase you can eliminate 90% of these problems.

A mechanic can see, in ways you cannot, where wreck repairs happened.

Mechanics can see alterations to factory parts – this means they have x-ray vision into the future of the car after it was brand new.  They can see repair marks like where wrenches scratched paint in the engine bay, or where shifting parts left micro scratches in the engine block itself.

Great mechanics have the ‘artist’s eye’ for cars:
when you can see 2% of what’s going on,
they can see 95%

My mechanic friend can track down problems one tiny clue at at time, and he does it quickly.  Good mechanics are smart people with an endless list of checkpoints that just flow like water from their brains.  They’ve seen many hundreds of car types and have learned to diagnose the problems of each type quickly.  Basically, a mechanic BELONGS with you when you are finally going to purchase any used car.  Find a good mechanic and pay him a nice chunk of money, like $50-$100 to come out with you and give a 30 minute inspection to ANY used car you might buy.

There are reliable used brands of cars to buy, like Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Ford Rangers that are notorious for getting 200,000+ miles without major problems.  There are also a slew of car types that will give you one costly headache after the next:  Guess who knows which cars are natural duds?  Great mechanics do.  Here’s an example how a 20 minute conversation with a mechanic could save you thousands of dollars directly (and hundreds of thousands over an investor’s lifetime).

Did you know:

1. Many mechanics call the Ford Focus the Ford “Fuck-us” because it is “so notoriously shoddy, and poorly made that repairs are constant.”

2. All mechanics know that buying a Mini Cooper will lead to repairs that are 4 TIMES more expensive than a Toyota or Honda.

Mechanics know model-specific issues about EVERY car type out there.  I don’t, you don’t, and the internet will always be hard to decipher with Critic vs. Fan-Boy posts splitting the news.  It could take weeks to sort out.  A great mechanic can tell you about model-specific problems in half an hour.  It would be WORTH IT to talk to a reputable mechanic (one who is not trying to drum up your repair business) just to have a discussion about car models and their repair problems/costs alone.  Pay them $50 to analyze your choice car types – they love money just like you do, and they might even be honored to be treated like the expert they really are.

Being a mechanic is a rough, complex, dirty, and even brutal job.  Did you know the mechanics at shops have to buy their own tools?  Mechanics invest a lot because they love working on cars.  They don’t get enough respect, and getting paid $50 by you for a conversation about reliable car types, or getting $70 to inspect a car might be an experience they could actually get into.  Just avoid being a pain in their ass! Read that last sentence again – from my inquiries, the number one reason mechanics don’t take on side jobs is because many people are too difficult to deal with. Remember, converting tons of procedural knowledge into communication is not an easy job! Just hear them out, and see where it goes.

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