Shop Talk – Buying a Used Car

By Ray Miles
Valley Bugler Columnist

I’ve been asked by several people lately about buying a used car, so thought I would espouse on that this month. First is to determine your price range, as that narrows the search right away. Then do a Craig’s List search for vehicles in that dollar area to see what is out there. Most people have a particular castle-rock-auto-repairmanufacturer they think is best, but I would suggest keeping an open mind when first starting your quest.
Often times a model or make you haven’t considered will be available that may be the best purchase of all those being offered. After settling on maybe two or three as good possibilities, contact the seller to find out more about the vehicle. Such thing as miles on car, condition of body and power train, maintenance that has been done, whether the vehicle has been in an accident, or has a “rebuilt” title, and so forth are all good questions.
Never take someone’s answers as correct without verifying their accuracy! After this exercise of narrowing your search, physically go and look at and drive the vehicle. It’s often a good idea to take someone else along not only as a second set of eyes, but also for their feedback on the many nuances that accompany buying a car.
If you find one that looks like a good pick, then ask if you can take it to a shop of your choice to have it looked over. This is a step I can’t recommend enough! If the owner/car dealer/seller won’t allow this, then get back into your ride and exit stage left; they are trying to hide something.
Sellers may require a security deposit to let you take the rig, as well as a few dollars to inspect, but it is worth it as a good inspection will uncover possible problems that would be impossible to detect otherwise. These problems may be small or large, but either way, you are now armed with knowledge to negotiate a better purchase price or to walk away from future problems down the road.
We recently had a vehicle brought in for a pre-purchase inspection, an older Honda that was a text book vehicle.
A walk-a–round revealed a number of things to the technician, oxidized paint, no significant dents and only a couple rock /door chips in the paint, obviously never wrecked. Tires roughly 75%, and a good push down on the bumpers front and rear revealed reasonably good shocks and struts; another plus.
Looking inside, the upholstery was clean and not torn anywhere. Brake and gas pedal pads showed insignificant wear, an indication that the odometer was reading correct at 130k.
Checking out the glove box, we found a stack of repair orders showing that the vehicle had had regular maintenance, as well as a recent tune up, timing belt replacement and brakes and calipers having been done in the past 30k miles. All good signs.
After a few more checks to mark off on the sheet, as well as an emissions test, we declared the car to be an excellent purchase.
The customer, armed with an estimate for muffler replacement, then was able to negotiate a fair price to purchase. Hope this helps on your next purchase.

Happy Motoring,
R&R Motors Castle Rock, WA

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