Author Topic: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions  (Read 36721 times)

Ashyukun

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Some time ago I got into working on and fixing up cars, and it's currently one of my favorite hobbies. Depending on what I'm doing it can be a bit expensive (one of my cars is a 30-year-old exotic that can get expensive to maintain), but it also has saved me a lot over money over the years and even made me a little as well as given me a lot of enjoyment.

Once my current project is finished and together, I'll have the capability (after finding a cheap tow dolly) of hauling most non-massive vehicles a modest distance and should have the space to have at least one project going at any time. So I've been seriously entertaining trying to turn my hobby into a bit more of a side business by flipping cars. Here in KY you can technically buy or sell 20 vehicles a year before you need a dealer's license, but I've been told as long as you're actually transferring them properly that limit is rarely worried about (i.e., you're having the title transferred and not just having one part signed and then whoever you sell it to signing as the buyer later). Not to mention 20 cars a year would be pretty impressive for doing it on the side anyway.

So, I'm curious what experience any other have had with car flipping and any advice regarding what works and doesn't, pitfalls to avoid, etc. Thanks!

schimt

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 06:48:10 AM »
I have always been interested in a simular side gig, and my one question was always that if you don't have a dealers license, how do you manage insurance and registration of the vehicles? Insurance is expensive in my area (New Jersey) and registation isn't too bad, but if required, its something to consider when evaluating potential profits.

For this reason i have been considering flipping none street legal vehicles, dirt bikes, atv's, jet ski, golf carts.

Maybe someone else can chime in on this topic and issue

Spork

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 07:44:48 AM »
caveat: I haven't done it.  But I have had a history of enjoying (and sometimes hating) working on them.  What schimt implies (and friends in my state have concurred with): There is often a legal limit of how many cars you can sell in a year without a dealer's license.  I am sure this varies by state.

I had a friend that did this a little by befriending a very small dealer in town and riding on his coat tails.  I think they made some agreement for a percentage kick back on the sale or profit.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 07:53:02 AM »
caveat: I haven't done it.  But I have had a history of enjoying (and sometimes hating) working on them.  What schimt implies (and friends in my state have concurred with): There is often a legal limit of how many cars you can sell in a year without a dealer's license.  I am sure this varies by state.

I had a friend that did this a little by befriending a very small dealer in town and riding on his coat tails.  I think they made some agreement for a percentage kick back on the sale or profit.

Yup- In Kentucky that limit is 20 cars. My insurance is pretty low here, and since I already have more vehicles than drivers I get a pretty steep discount on the additional cars. I'd also only really need the barebones basic coverage for cars being worked out to sell.

Registration of the cars is handled differently by everyone. Techically you need to transfer the title to your own name and register the car yourself. Most of what I've heard says that unless you're moving a really large level of cars that the state doesn't really care how many you buy and sell since you're paying all the taxes and fees on them. I've known of people though who have done 'soft' title transfers where the seller signs their portion of the title, the flipper doesn't sign it at all, and then when they sell it they have the person buying the vehicle from them sign the buyer's portion. Since you need a Notary signature on the titles though, this requires knowing a Notary who doesn't care about this techically being illegal (the last time I encountered this, the flipper's wife was a notary and handled all the titles...).

Spork

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 08:27:30 AM »
caveat: I haven't done it.  But I have had a history of enjoying (and sometimes hating) working on them.  What schimt implies (and friends in my state have concurred with): There is often a legal limit of how many cars you can sell in a year without a dealer's license.  I am sure this varies by state.

I had a friend that did this a little by befriending a very small dealer in town and riding on his coat tails.  I think they made some agreement for a percentage kick back on the sale or profit.

Yup- In Kentucky that limit is 20 cars. My insurance is pretty low here, and since I already have more vehicles than drivers I get a pretty steep discount on the additional cars. I'd also only really need the barebones basic coverage for cars being worked out to sell.


HOLY MOLY!   In Texas it is 5!  20 is a pretty huge number (considering we're talking about buying fixer-uppers, fixing-upping and flipping.) 

schimt

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 08:34:12 AM »
Yup- In Kentucky that limit is 20 cars. My insurance is pretty low here, and since I already have more vehicles than drivers I get a pretty steep discount on the additional cars. I'd also only really need the barebones basic coverage for cars being worked out to sell.

Registration of the cars is handled differently by everyone. Techically you need to transfer the title to your own name and register the car yourself. Most of what I've heard says that unless you're moving a really large level of cars that the state doesn't really care how many you buy and sell since you're paying all the taxes and fees on them. I've known of people though who have done 'soft' title transfers where the seller signs their portion of the title, the flipper doesn't sign it at all, and then when they sell it they have the person buying the vehicle from them sign the buyer's portion. Since you need a Notary signature on the titles though, this requires knowing a Notary who doesn't care about this techically being illegal (the last time I encountered this, the flipper's wife was a notary and handled all the titles...).

How do you perform a soft title transfer, don't you need to register the car in someones name to have plates on it for test driving purposes when trying to sell it?

Spork

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 09:08:54 AM »

How do you perform a soft title transfer, don't you need to register the car in someones name to have plates on it for test driving purposes when trying to sell it?

I believe this varies by state, too.  I recently sold a car to a friend that lives out of state.  In his state, the seller keeps the tags.  In my state, the tags are good until they expire.  So... if it has 9 months on it... the tags are good.  If you can flip it in 9 months: you're ok.

Kaminoge

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2014, 09:11:43 AM »
I know nothing about cars so take everything I say with a grain of salt...

Have you considered doing work on other peoples' cars instead? I don't mean like being a mechanic. My brother customises vehicles for people as a side gig. I'm not sure of the details but he's a specialist in certain types of vehicles and people who are in that "community" ask him to do stuff for them. Mind you I suspect it's not legal (in terms of tax) in the strictest sense but it basically funds his expensive hobby (he has machinery in his workshop that I'm sure most fully equipped auto shops would be jealous of) and he's not running it as a business or anything.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 09:20:15 AM »

How do you perform a soft title transfer, don't you need to register the car in someones name to have plates on it for test driving purposes when trying to sell it?

I believe this varies by state, too.  I recently sold a car to a friend that lives out of state.  In his state, the seller keeps the tags.  In my state, the tags are good until they expire.  So... if it has 9 months on it... the tags are good.  If you can flip it in 9 months: you're ok.

It also depends on just how above-the-board everyone involved is as well. I've heard of (but not directly seen) just tossing on a set of plates from another car for test-driving.

Here in KY plates transfer with the car. Most of the ones I've seen come up that I've thought, "I could buy and flip that fairly easily..." have been cars that have had something go wrong recently and the seller was just fed up with it and selling it cheap so it still had valid tags which unless I were to buy it really close to when they'd expire would probably still be good when going to sell it.

I'd be doing it above-board though and doing all the transfers properly. The 'soft' transfers are typically done to avoid paying the taxes on buying the car and the price range I'd initially be looking to work in would make the taxes negligible.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2014, 09:25:54 AM »
I know nothing about cars so take everything I say with a grain of salt...

Have you considered doing work on other peoples' cars instead? I don't mean like being a mechanic. My brother customises vehicles for people as a side gig. I'm not sure of the details but he's a specialist in certain types of vehicles and people who are in that "community" ask him to do stuff for them. Mind you I suspect it's not legal (in terms of tax) in the strictest sense but it basically funds his expensive hobby (he has machinery in his workshop that I'm sure most fully equipped auto shops would be jealous of) and he's not running it as a business or anything.

I have considered it, and the idea of doing 'tune ups' replacing plugs and wires on cars that was put forth in the 'side gig' thread was rather appealing.

Unfortunately I've not really found a 'community' the matches up with my interests and skills. Honestly, I've not seen much of any car-related groups here locally yet though I've not looked the hardest either. Honestly I'd love to get to work on cars for a living (or at least think I would...) but am not at the point where that's feasible to try and pick up that as a job at this point.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 09:26:55 AM »
Actually, Ashyukun, there is no stated number in the state of KY.   That number of 20 listed elsewhere on the internet is not true just because it's on the internet. :)

The KY Motor Vehicle Commission states that if you buy a car with the "intent to resell" you will need a license.
Here's there number in case you don't believe me : 502- 573-1000

Thus, it seems if you're going to get into the "flipping" business, you'll need a dealer license.
That being said, there is no limit to how many cars you own, title in your name and insure in your name.

All that aside, it's not likely to be an issue unless you're doing a lot of sales. The KY MVC says that sometimes neighbors and even county clerks will turn people in if they suspect selling without a license.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2014, 09:29:06 AM »

How do you perform a soft title transfer, don't you need to register the car in someones name to have plates on it for test driving purposes when trying to sell it?

I believe this varies by state, too.  I recently sold a car to a friend that lives out of state.  In his state, the seller keeps the tags.  In my state, the tags are good until they expire.  So... if it has 9 months on it... the tags are good.  If you can flip it in 9 months: you're ok.

It also depends on just how above-the-board everyone involved is as well. I've heard of (but not directly seen) just tossing on a set of plates from another car for test-driving.

Here in KY plates transfer with the car. Most of the ones I've seen come up that I've thought, "I could buy and flip that fairly easily..." have been cars that have had something go wrong recently and the seller was just fed up with it and selling it cheap so it still had valid tags which unless I were to buy it really close to when they'd expire would probably still be good when going to sell it.

I'd be doing it above-board though and doing all the transfers properly. The 'soft' transfers are typically done to avoid paying the taxes on buying the car and the price range I'd initially be looking to work in would make the taxes negligible.


KRS 186.190Change of registration upon transfer of ownership -- Permitted
registration plate transfers -- Clerk's fee.
(1) (a) Except as provided for in paragraph (e) of this subsection, when a motor
vehicle that has been previously registered changes ownership, the
registration plate shall not remain upon the motor vehicle, but shall be
retained by the seller
and may be transferred to another vehicle owned or
leased by the seller in accordance with paragraph (b) or (c) of this
subsection.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 09:33:25 AM by thurston howell iv »

jbmatth

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2014, 09:36:28 AM »
I have done this on a couple cars and three motorcycles.  The motorcycles were bought as salvage with the intent to repair and keep so they were titled after the repair in my name I rode them part of the season then sold for a pretty nice profit in the neighborhood of 35% total for the three.  The two cars were only bought to fix and sell and were soft transfers technically.  In reality I would take them under my wing with work needing to be done and promised the original seller (they were family friends) 'X' amount of money when I sold them even if I didn't profit.  Then I would do the repairs and sell on.  One of them I made about 120% profit between the price of my purchase and the price of the repairs.  I don't have the garage space now but I still keep an eye out.  The best plan would be to buy them as your own, do the repairs, then change your mind and sell.  But you may not want to do too many of these or you will attract attention.  Best of luck to you.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2014, 09:45:37 AM »
Actually, Ashyukun, there is no stated number in the state of KY.   That number of 20 listed elsewhere on the internet is not true just because it's on the internet. :)

The KY Motor Vehicle Commission states that if you buy a car with the "intent to resell" you will need a license.
Here's there number in case you don't believe me : 502- 573-1000

Thus, it seems if you're going to get into the "flipping" business, you'll need a dealer license.
That being said, there is no limit to how many cars you own, title in your name and insure in your name.

All that aside, it's not likely to be an issue unless you're doing a lot of sales. The KY MVC says that sometimes neighbors and even county clerks will turn people in if they suspect selling without a license.

Interesting. I had looked into the requirements for a dealer's license, but quickly discounted it after the first section detailing needing to have a display lot and an office. I wouldn't likely be doing any real kind of volume- I'd figure one per month might be pushing it so wouldn't be too concerned about attracting attention.

All the time when I've bought running, registered cars the seller has just left the plates on the car. Wouldn't worry me too much though, most of what I'd be looking at buying would be things that don't run so wouldn't need plates initially and once fixed up I know I can drive them to the county clerk's office without the plates to get it registered.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2014, 09:47:07 AM »
Open title sales, floating a title or "soft transfers" are generally illegal. (as their purpose is to avoid paying taxes on the property)

That being said, dealing with the local clerks offices in KY can be a royal PITA and if there is any question about title you will be stuck. I NEVER buy anything that is not titled in the sellers name... Lots of people are the same way. Just don't need the title hassles.

If you buy from out of state you also need to have a special form signed and notarized along with the title before you can register it in KY.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2014, 09:49:17 AM »
Actually, Ashyukun, there is no stated number in the state of KY.   That number of 20 listed elsewhere on the internet is not true just because it's on the internet. :)

The KY Motor Vehicle Commission states that if you buy a car with the "intent to resell" you will need a license.
Here's there number in case you don't believe me : 502- 573-1000

Thus, it seems if you're going to get into the "flipping" business, you'll need a dealer license.
That being said, there is no limit to how many cars you own, title in your name and insure in your name.

All that aside, it's not likely to be an issue unless you're doing a lot of sales. The KY MVC says that sometimes neighbors and even county clerks will turn people in if they suspect selling without a license.

Interesting. I had looked into the requirements for a dealer's license, but quickly discounted it after the first section detailing needing to have a display lot and an office. I wouldn't likely be doing any real kind of volume- I'd figure one per month might be pushing it so wouldn't be too concerned about attracting attention.

All the time when I've bought running, registered cars the seller has just left the plates on the car. Wouldn't worry me too much though, most of what I'd be looking at buying would be things that don't run so wouldn't need plates initially and once fixed up I know I can drive them to the county clerk's office without the plates to get it registered.

Yea, most people leave the plates on the cars they sell since it's no biggie. However, there are some states like FL where the plate costs something like $350-400 for a first time registration!  Sellers hang on to their plates like they were made of gold!

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2014, 10:11:25 AM »
Open title sales, floating a title or "soft transfers" are generally illegal. (as their purpose is to avoid paying taxes on the property)

That being said, dealing with the local clerks offices in KY can be a royal PITA and if there is any question about title you will be stuck. I NEVER buy anything that is not titled in the sellers name... Lots of people are the same way. Just don't need the title hassles.

If you buy from out of state you also need to have a special form signed and notarized along with the title before you can register it in KY.

I've only once bought something with an open title and it was an inoperable project car. One of the buyers of a car I had fixed up for a family member but they gave back didn't want to sign the buyer's portion and said his wife (the notary) would take care of it later. Wasn't the most thrilled about it- and went downtown the next day to fill out the paperwork to confirm having sold it- but just wanted the car gone.

I've so far had very good experiences with the clerks here in Fayette, hopefully that will continue...

ritchie70

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2014, 01:46:53 PM »
I know nothing about cars so take everything I say with a grain of salt...

Have you considered doing work on other peoples' cars instead? I don't mean like being a mechanic. My brother customises vehicles for people as a side gig. I'm not sure of the details but he's a specialist in certain types of vehicles and people who are in that "community" ask him to do stuff for them. Mind you I suspect it's not legal (in terms of tax) in the strictest sense but it basically funds his expensive hobby (he has machinery in his workshop that I'm sure most fully equipped auto shops would be jealous of) and he's not running it as a business or anything.

I have considered it, and the idea of doing 'tune ups' replacing plugs and wires on cars that was put forth in the 'side gig' thread was rather appealing.

Unfortunately I've not really found a 'community' the matches up with my interests and skills. Honestly, I've not seen much of any car-related groups here locally yet though I've not looked the hardest either. Honestly I'd love to get to work on cars for a living (or at least think I would...) but am not at the point where that's feasible to try and pick up that as a job at this point.

I've wondered if there was a business opportunity to refurbish people's cars.

For example, suppose I have a 10 year old car that I like but it's getting tired. You take it for a week or two, go over it with a fine tooth comb, fix everything - cosmetic and mechanical - that you find, detail it and return it to me. Even hit it with a spritz of "new car smell".


Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2014, 02:07:28 PM »
I've wondered if there was a business opportunity to refurbish people's cars.

For example, suppose I have a 10 year old car that I like but it's getting tired. You take it for a week or two, go over it with a fine tooth comb, fix everything - cosmetic and mechanical - that you find, detail it and return it to me. Even hit it with a spritz of "new car smell".

That could be interesting, but I'm not sure how many people would go for having everything fixed on an older car. Well, more accurately, I'm not sure how many -normal- people would go for it these days. Mustachians of course see the value in keeping a 10-year-old, presumably paid off, car up and running efficiently vs. just deciding they need the newest and greatest. There'd also need to be some pre-determined limits on what would be done, or treat it more like a normal mechanic where you'd go over it and give a quote on what you found initially.

I suppose one way to do it would be to have it based off of doing something similar to what was brought up in the 'side gig' thread- doing a basic tune-up with plugs, wires, oil-change, and filters but also look the car over for other work that needed to be done and give a quote on what the rest of it would cost (probably shocks/struts, brakes, other suspension issues) for you to do it.

jbmatth

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2014, 02:14:17 PM »
I personally would be slightly concerned if I went to look at a used vehicle and it had brand new plugs, wires, filters, and new oil.  What were they trying to cover up?  I do however try to sell my vehicles like this but will take a sample of the oil and have it analyzed for $20 with blackstone labs I believe, and show that the engine is in good shape and I just wanted to change it and have new oil for the new owner.  But that all depends on how long I've owned the vehicle as well.  If I just changed everything/tuned it up 6 months ago I won't do all of that.

zachd

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2014, 03:09:10 PM »

I dont' know much about cars or fixing them...

But I can say there are plenty of cars on Craigslist you could buy and flip without doing anything to them at all.
Some people just need to the money fast and will take less than they are worth for immediate cash. Or people like me who, when I had to sell my old volvo, really didn't want to mess around so I priced it on the low side to move it fast.

I think it could be a pretty lucrative sideline espcially if you were mechanially inclined so that you would not be buying any lemons and could do some repairs or restoring to boost the re-sale even more.


Melody

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2014, 04:07:18 PM »
My ex did this... sort of. Here limit is selling 5 cars a year, but no limit to how many you buy, so he was a "wrecker" - In those days you could buy a totaled car for a little as $100 and make more than $100 back from the tyres/rims alone if they were in good shape. He specialised in a popular make/model of car, so he got really fast at tearing them down and could get repeat buyers. Caveat: this is definitely a taxable business.

prodarwin

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2014, 04:12:39 PM »
I've thought about doing it with a particular make/model.  The cars I'm most familiar with have automatic transmissions that are VERY frequently misdiagnosed as failed, when 99% it is a $100 valve body or a loose input shaft nut.  A $3000 car in need of a transmission will sell for $500 or so.  Quick and easy to fix.  If the trans turns out to actually be bad, I can just swap a manual in it and sell it.

That said, buying/selling cars is a HUGE hassle - going to look at them, getting a ride to pick them up, storing them while you play with them, registering them, paying taxes, etc.  I don't know how to factor all of that into the price of the car, but it is a significant time-sink.

ritchie70

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2014, 11:04:08 PM »
I've wondered if there was a business opportunity to refurbish people's cars.

For example, suppose I have a 10 year old car that I like but it's getting tired. You take it for a week or two, go over it with a fine tooth comb, fix everything - cosmetic and mechanical - that you find, detail it and return it to me. Even hit it with a spritz of "new car smell".

That could be interesting, but I'm not sure how many people would go for having everything fixed on an older car. Well, more accurately, I'm not sure how many -normal- people would go for it these days. Mustachians of course see the value in keeping a 10-year-old, presumably paid off, car up and running efficiently vs. just deciding they need the newest and greatest. There'd also need to be some pre-determined limits on what would be done, or treat it more like a normal mechanic where you'd go over it and give a quote on what you found initially.

I suppose one way to do it would be to have it based off of doing something similar to what was brought up in the 'side gig' thread- doing a basic tune-up with plugs, wires, oil-change, and filters but also look the car over for other work that needed to be done and give a quote on what the rest of it would cost (probably shocks/struts, brakes, other suspension issues) for you to do it.

I've had several cars that I just got sick of their little problems, which is why I've thought about this.

For example, the door handle is worn, and one of the knobs on something is loose, and everything's dirty, there are some deep scratches and maybe a dent or two and it's making some noise and the fan only works on two of the four speeds. The problem with most auto repair places is they're either in the upholstery business, or the auto body business, or the glass business, or the general repair business, with very little overlap. If someone would just be a "general contractor" on my car and go take care of all the stuff that's pissing me off about it, I would really have appreciated it.

I don't know that the "contractor" would need to charge specifically for their services past having a minimum dollar amount - you could negotiate discounts with the subs and keep those discounts rather than passing them along.

So I guess the business is vehicle inspection, collecting estimates, getting owner approval and driving the car around to get stuff fixed. Now I'm less sure if that's an opportunity.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2014, 08:31:55 AM »
I've wondered if there was a business opportunity to refurbish people's cars.

For example, suppose I have a 10 year old car that I like but it's getting tired. You take it for a week or two, go over it with a fine tooth comb, fix everything - cosmetic and mechanical - that you find, detail it and return it to me. Even hit it with a spritz of "new car smell".

That could be interesting, but I'm not sure how many people would go for having everything fixed on an older car. Well, more accurately, I'm not sure how many -normal- people would go for it these days. Mustachians of course see the value in keeping a 10-year-old, presumably paid off, car up and running efficiently vs. just deciding they need the newest and greatest. There'd also need to be some pre-determined limits on what would be done, or treat it more like a normal mechanic where you'd go over it and give a quote on what you found initially.

I suppose one way to do it would be to have it based off of doing something similar to what was brought up in the 'side gig' thread- doing a basic tune-up with plugs, wires, oil-change, and filters but also look the car over for other work that needed to be done and give a quote on what the rest of it would cost (probably shocks/struts, brakes, other suspension issues) for you to do it.

I've had several cars that I just got sick of their little problems, which is why I've thought about this.

For example, the door handle is worn, and one of the knobs on something is loose, and everything's dirty, there are some deep scratches and maybe a dent or two and it's making some noise and the fan only works on two of the four speeds. The problem with most auto repair places is they're either in the upholstery business, or the auto body business, or the glass business, or the general repair business, with very little overlap. If someone would just be a "general contractor" on my car and go take care of all the stuff that's pissing me off about it, I would really have appreciated it.

I don't know that the "contractor" would need to charge specifically for their services past having a minimum dollar amount - you could negotiate discounts with the subs and keep those discounts rather than passing them along.

So I guess the business is vehicle inspection, collecting estimates, getting owner approval and driving the car around to get stuff fixed. Now I'm less sure if that's an opportunity.


It's a neat idea but generally not very feasable to the average consumer.  I fix cars all the time. I have a bunch of my own and I sometimes help friends with their cars. The problem I run into is that people expect everything to be super cheap and balk when you tell them all of the little things that need to be done to make the car 90% (given that it's an older used car it will generally never be 100%)...

Here's an example:

A friend called me the other day. Had a fuel leak. And a fuel pump that was starting to fail. To fix the issue (buying parts as discounted as possible would run a couple hundred- not including my labor.  Rust issues (broken and seized bolts) cause the repair estimates to climb as more time would need to be spent to properly do the repair.  This is a car that needs not only cosmetic work, it has tears in the seats, has a leak in the A/C system, etc... It's worth a few hundred dollars. Doesn't make sense to dump a few hundred into a car that is only worth that. (At least to most people)

A lot of times, it's all the little nickel and dime parts that add up and will break your budget.

The best racket out there is to be able to fix automatic transmissions.... There's tons of car out there literally being given away because the estimates to repair the transmissions are so insane!  You can pick up some really nice cars and many trans rebuild kits are only a few hundred dollars.  If I could find a vo-tech course to teach me that I could make a fortune (don't worry, it's in the plans) 




kendallf

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2014, 08:36:46 AM »
I have bought and sold cars my entire adult life, often fixer-uppers and project cars.  If I had to put a $/hr guess on it, I'd bet I made.. maybe a dollar per hour on average?  :-)   Kidding, but not too much.

My problem, and I suspect many other "car guys" problem, is not treating it like a business.  We buy cars we're interested in, try to repair and upgrade them to a level that we consider attractive, and then when we sell, it's to a limited market that may not want a car modified in just the way we do.

My profitable flips have been utilitarian cars that I had no interest in restoring or hot rodding, that I just made driveable and eventually sold.  My last flip was a mid 90s Ford Thunderbird with a blown head gasket but a good body and interior.  Bought it from a co-worker for $300, fixed it, and sold it a couple of months later for $1800. 

The current occupant of my garage is a 87 Buick Grand National, bought for $2k with the worst pimptastic candy aple paint job you've ever seen, every mechanical component under the hood rigged (it had an gutted turbocharger with the oil feed crimped off!), etc..  I have it running with a new motor and have put about $1k in additional parts into it, but it'll need much more work to be worth anything approaching a profit.  I like the car but it would've been a lousy business proposition.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2014, 08:42:47 AM »
I've had several cars that I just got sick of their little problems, which is why I've thought about this.

For example, the door handle is worn, and one of the knobs on something is loose, and everything's dirty, there are some deep scratches and maybe a dent or two and it's making some noise and the fan only works on two of the four speeds. The problem with most auto repair places is they're either in the upholstery business, or the auto body business, or the glass business, or the general repair business, with very little overlap. If someone would just be a "general contractor" on my car and go take care of all the stuff that's pissing me off about it, I would really have appreciated it.

I don't know that the "contractor" would need to charge specifically for their services past having a minimum dollar amount - you could negotiate discounts with the subs and keep those discounts rather than passing them along.

So I guess the business is vehicle inspection, collecting estimates, getting owner approval and driving the car around to get stuff fixed. Now I'm less sure if that's an opportunity.

Well, anyone who's had a decent amount of experience in working with cars could likely handle most if not all of those issues so wouldn't need to do any subbing out unless they were trying to do a lot of different cars at once in parallel. Were I doing something like that, I'd probably be handling all the electrical/mechanical stuff and probably the body work and be having someone I know who runs a small detailing business handle all of the detailing. I'd probably consider having someone better at body work do that initially as well since that's something I don't have a lot of experience at, but would be hoping to get better at it along the way as well.

This would probably be best done one cars not 10 years and older but on those that are hitting the points where they usually are calling for more serious looking at- usually in the 5-year range. 10 years in unless it's really collectible or luxury, trying to keep everything looking and working like new (besides the mechanicals) is going to be a labor of love and not something most people would be paying to have done.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2014, 08:51:51 AM »
I have bought and sold cars my entire adult life, often fixer-uppers and project cars.  If I had to put a $/hr guess on it, I'd bet I made.. maybe a dollar per hour on average?  :-)   Kidding, but not too much.

My problem, and I suspect many other "car guys" problem, is not treating it like a business.  We buy cars we're interested in, try to repair and upgrade them to a level that we consider attractive, and then when we sell, it's to a limited market that may not want a car modified in just the way we do.

I've heard this exact same thing from others on the main car board I frequent (Grassroots Motorsports)- the cars that can be most easily flipped are going to be the ones that most of us car guys consider boring boxes- Japanese sedans primarily- that your average person equates with being a reliable means of transportation and not much else.

I'd probably start with late-gen Saturn S-series cars- that's what my daily driver is and as such I've learned a lot of its quirks and do most things on it quite easily.

Transmissions- especially automatics- are something that scare me a little bit but I really should learn to work on. They really shouldn't... you'd think if I can tear down and rebuild both piston and rotary engines that a transmission shouldn't be all that daunting.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2014, 09:13:54 AM »
I agree. It's the cheap econo-cars where we don't get carried away.

For me to fix a car, I want everything to work. Not just the safety stuff like brakes, tires, suspension, and lights but also the comforts like power windows, mirrors, a/c (that's a biggie for lots of folks).

I usually gut them and clean them so they're clean as well.

You would be amazed at the condition some people keep their cars!  Trash and stains and junk everywhere- you can usually get a better deal on those but it's a PITA to clean them up sometimes...

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2014, 09:55:41 AM »
I agree. It's the cheap econo-cars where we don't get carried away.

For me to fix a car, I want everything to work. Not just the safety stuff like brakes, tires, suspension, and lights but also the comforts like power windows, mirrors, a/c (that's a biggie for lots of folks).

I usually gut them and clean them so they're clean as well.

You would be amazed at the condition some people keep their cars!  Trash and stains and junk everywhere- you can usually get a better deal on those but it's a PITA to clean them up sometimes...

I'd not be TOO amazed- I've seen what my family's cars end up looking like! It always amazes me how they end up that way... I use my DD Saturn for some ridiculous things (like strapping a transmission into the back seat- on top of a large number of trash bags of course)- and it is still in far better condition than their newer cars are.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2014, 11:30:06 AM »
I put a transmission in my trunk but never in the interior... Don't trust the garbage bags. It would be my luck that I'd get something to leak into light colored material or some grease to smear into something...

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2014, 11:35:50 AM »
It wouldn't fit into the trunk, or that's where it would have gone. I can't wait until I get the Elky finished so I have something that actually makes SENSE to be using for salvage yard runs. :P

Since my house is now under contract it mean that with some luck in a few months we'll be in a new house with a garage that I can actually work out of. Once that happens I'll probably take some small steps- put up a flier at my office (about 100 engineers) for doing simple work on the cars (like the plugs/wires/oil change and basic diagnosing) and look into something else I'd considered doing a while back: volunteering to work on vehicles at/for the local battered women's shelter and other charities.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2014, 11:38:51 AM »
An Elco would be ideal for j/y runs...
What salvage yards do you use in Kentucky?

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2014, 11:51:08 AM »
Yeah, it was pretty much the perfect choice IMO- though to an extent I wish I'd have not bought it when I did as if I hadn't I'd probably have bought a really good condition (and running...) Dodge Rampage just a few days later when I was at an auto auction. Unfortunately the Camino turned out to be a bitter project than expected and it got badly delayed by the whole moving thing. It's hard to get out and work on it consistently when it's a 20 minute drive to get to the shop unit where it & all my tools are at the moment.

Unfortunately I've yet to find ANY good salvage yards truly 'nearby'. Up until sometime last year there was at least -A- u-pull-it type lot here in LEX, but when I went to go there to look for something a month or so ago found it was closed and had been for a while. I have to go either up near or in Cinci or to Louisville. Most of the time I head up to Cinci since a good college buddy who I work on things with lives up there. I usually hit Bessler's in Hebron and then head into town to the U-Pull and Pay. Bessler's is generally larger but doesn't at last count post inventory while UP&P does. I'll definitely be heading up to Bessler's later this month though- the 23rd is their annual Pull-A-Thon: $80 for everything that you can carry for 15 feet. I've not been out to Louisville's lots in a while, I just generally have less reason to head out that direction...

thurston howell iv

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2014, 12:03:47 PM »
Sending u a pm

ritchie70

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2014, 09:37:47 AM »

It's a neat idea but generally not very feasable to the average consumer.  I fix cars all the time. I have a bunch of my own and I sometimes help friends with their cars. The problem I run into is that people expect everything to be super cheap and balk when you tell them all of the little things that need to be done to make the car 90% (given that it's an older used car it will generally never be 100%)...


Oh, you don't have to tell me how people are about repair costs... I owned/operated a couple muffler shops from '92 to 2000 and grew up around the business too (they were my dad's.)

phred

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2014, 01:06:04 PM »
Fixing cars in your home garage.  Sure!  Your neighbors will just love the extra noise and traffic you create.  What was once a nice, quiet neighborhood is now a danger to their toddlers and pets

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2014, 07:41:26 AM »
Fixing cars in your home garage.  Sure!  Your neighbors will just love the extra noise and traffic you create.  What was once a nice, quiet neighborhood is now a danger to their toddlers and pets
Either you're trolling or have a complete arsehole mechanic as a neighbor, but...

Extra traffic? O_o? I fail to see how having an extra vehicle in the garage being worked on would generate extra traffic. Even people coming to potentially buy a car would generate less 'extra traffic' than our friends coming over to visit. It's not like I'd be running an active shop with people dropping off and picking up cars.

As for noise, I've had neighbors who did woodworking or home improvement projects that make more noise than any of my tools or cars. I've also always been mindful to not be using air tools or firing up noisy cars after the times when reasonable people would be in bed. Frankly my neighbors where I am now have always been quite fine with my past automotive projects and have never complained- quite the contrary, they like having someone around they can ask about issues with their cars and who will help them with it if it's something reasonably easy to fix.

Danger to toddlers and pets? Really? The riding mowers people use on their lawns are a much bigger danger to either.

phred

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2014, 11:41:26 AM »
My neighborhood mechanic and his friends/customers have to test the repairs by driving up and down the street - repeatedly.  He also seems to understand tuning only by going to full throttle over & over again at all hours of the day.
  If you are different, then my apologies.

Ashyukun

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2014, 12:49:22 PM »
Ah. It sounds like more of a hot-rodder mechanic than someone fixing up more 'normal' cars. I've always tried to be mindful of my neighbors when working on things since I've always hated it when people drive down the streets in front of my house with loud exhaust/music at all hours.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 08:12:07 AM by Ashyukun »

nicknageli

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Re: Anybody flip cars as a side income? Looking for advice/suggestions
« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2014, 02:43:24 PM »
My neighborhood mechanic and his friends/customers have to test the repairs by driving up and down the street - repeatedly.  He also seems to understand tuning only by going to full throttle over & over again at all hours of the day.
  If you are different, then my apologies.

Blech!  I feel for you.