Buying a used vehicle?

Being in the automotive repair industry is very much like being a mental health technician. This is not saying that there is any correlation to the education aspects that we both have to attain. But most clients are very surprised at the amount of continuing education automotive techs receive. It’s just that when you talk about automobiles, many times there are a lot of emotions that go along with that conversation. Sometimes it’s sentimental, sometimes it’s the end of a love/hate relationship, and sometimes it’s just plain old economics.

Many times a vehicle that has not been maintained properly finally just quits or breaks down. Sometimes it’s able to be driven in but most times it comes in on the hook, aka a tow truck. Enter emotions, why now? It could have not happened at a worse time, this vehicle has been nickel and diming me ever since I bought it. We’ve all heard it and many times we have said it.

car moneyAfter going over the vehicle and we have to ascertain exactly what is needed to breathe the life back into the vehicle we as responsible professionals go through what is very much like a triage system. What is needed right now, what is needed next week, and finally what is needed to make the vehicle safe, and reliable? The first impulsive statement that I hear is; “that’s more than the car is worth”. Worth is the keyword here. People confuse a dollar value that is found on the internet, which can change from site to site, with the true value of a vehicle. Usually, my first response is “were you looking for a different vehicle last week”? If you weren’t then this is not the time to start looking now. Unfortunately because of the economic structure that many people have found themselves in is that it’s easier to finance a different vehicle than to stretch their already tight finances even tighter. It never ceases to amaze me how people can rationalize spending $10,000.00 to $20,000.00 rather to spend $2500.00 to $4000.00 to bring their vehicle back to a safe and reliable condition.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, we are talking about vehicles that are in good condition i.e. no body damage, no rust, all or most of the electronics in the vehicle are in working condition, etc.

Now let’s cut to the chase. We/you have decided that it’s time to upgrade to a newer vehicle, the first mistake is that if you are replacing your primary form of transportation, human nature forces you to run right out and find something right away, make a deal and get on with life. WRONG!!!! Now is the time to take a deep breath and rent a vehicle for at least a week so that you can make a realistic, intelligent decision. It is even better if you can rent the same type of vehicle that you may think about buying. It is a $200.00 expense that can save you thousands. Next, decide on what type of vehicle you would like, and what your budget will be. carfax report A very important rule of thumb is if you are going to finance a vehicle and cannot afford to pay it off in three or four years then you are looking above your budget. If you finance for longer than that you will become “UPSIDE DOWN”.

When you are preparing your budget, remember that you are buying a used vehicle, if it has close to or more than 50,000 miles on it, you are buying it at the point at which most of the expensive services are about due. You should have enough “wiggle” room in your budget to be able to perform these services so that you can keep your “new” vehicle “SAFE AND RELIABLE”.

Due diligence is very important when inquiring about remaining federal warranties, transferable extended warranties, recalls, and campaigns. If this is Greek to you, call me and I will walk you through it. Demand a CARFAX. There are 2 different types of CARFAX, one is an overview (it’s free and pretty much useless), and the other is a comprehensive report and it costs about $40.00. It is $40.00 well spent. Understand that CARFAX’s are not infallible, and only reported accidents or repairs will show up, but it is at least an indicator of the use and abuse of a vehicle.

used car mechanicAnd FINALLY, you must demand that the vehicle you are looking to purchase is inspected by an independent shop of your choice. A quality inspection will take at least one to two hours and it will cost you money. If you are buying from a dealership or a private party and they do not allow you to do this, WALK AWAY.

This is your report you do not have to share it with anyone nor do we give copies to anyone except you, you are the client and I work for you. Most dealerships in this area understand my reasons for doing this and they usually have no issues with dropping off the vehicle for my inspection.

Once again I have to reiterate that finding things that need to be addressed before buying a vehicle is important, it is after all used. However, more importantly, you should understand what preventive maintenance you will have to address during your first year of ownership so that you don’t find yourself behind the proverbial eight ball again. Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center does not sell parts and labor, we provide safety and reliability, and keep the cost of ownership as low as possible.





Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: bills are through the roof, the kids are sick and /or need school supplies and clothes, your hours at work were cut, the hot water heater just exploded and flooded the garage (only if you are lucky) usually it’s the hallway, and your car needs $2500.00 worth of work.

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