Author Topic: Car buying inspection and selling an old car  (Read 3166 times)

nataelj

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Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« on: October 31, 2013, 01:09:26 PM »
It's official, my recently running across http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/09/04/its-never-too-late-to-ditch-your-gas-guzzler/ again and a new leak in my power steering system have put me over the edge so I think I'm going to be replacing my car. I have a few questions though, and if anyone has quick answers or can point me to the best articles or blog discussions on it I'd much appreciate it (there are a million car buying/selling discussions and I didn't want to sort through them all, so I'm starting with asking instead). Help will be much appreciated!

I'm particularly interested in answering two questions:

1. The MMM article on buying (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/19/how-to-come-out-way-ahead-when-buying-a-used-car/) is the process I'm planning to use, but there isn't any discussion in it about having the car inspected or checked over or anything. If I'm not particularly car savvy is there a way to build some safety on this into the process to avoid getting ripped off?

2. The car I'm selling is a 1998 Ford Taurus station wagon I inherited from my grandmother. It's in need of repair for the power steering system leak and due for an oil change and is generally starting to show its age (dings and scratches on the outside, seat belts not retracting as well, etc.). Given that this car isn't likely to be worth much, is there any difference in how I should approach selling it due to its low value? Would this make me more or less likely to opt for Carmax over Craigslist? I've never sold a car, any links to or details on a crash course would be appreciated!

Also, if it's relevant, I'll be doing all this in the Washington DC area, but since the leak in my old car is a slow one I can take my time in this process as long as I keep refilling the power steering fluid.

Thanks in advance for any and all help!

Spork

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 02:32:15 PM »

Do you have a trusted mechanic you can take your prospective new car to?  I think most mechanics will do a reasonable check for a reasonable fee -- especially if they know you're planning on bringing the car back if it breaks.

As for the Taurus... there isn't a lot of data here on what all is wrong with it, but a power steering leak might be something as easy as replacing a hose or an inexpensive power steering pump.*  You've probably had this car a while and probably know better than I do whether it really is time to replace it or not.  I'm just saying that power steering leak alone might not be the end of the world.


*Read this with a grain of salt.  I have an old truck that leaks power steering fluid, I know how to fix it and still haven't bothered to do so.

Eric

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 02:35:24 PM »
I don't think Carmax buys cars as old as yours, so I'm guessing that Craigslist or another private listing site like Autotrader would be your only option.

I agree with Spork in that your local mechanic is your best inspection bet.

Spork

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2013, 04:37:29 PM »
I don't think Carmax buys cars as old as yours, so I'm guessing that Craigslist or another private listing site like Autotrader would be your only option.

I agree with Spork in that your local mechanic is your best inspection bet.

You never know...  they deal enough in the wholesale market, they might buy anything.  Now... you may not get much for it.  I have no earthly idea what they're worth.  Figure out what it's range is from edmunds.com, nadaguides.com, kbb.com.  None of those will even remotely agree with each other (they never do).  And they'll try to present data differently so that they're different from the rest... but it gives you a figure to have in mind.  Pay attention to the trade-in/wholesale value for the carmax type buyer and the private party sale for the craigslist buyer.

okashira

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2013, 05:34:10 PM »

nataelj

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2013, 06:38:51 AM »
Spork, thanks for the thought. I actually put dye in the power steering fluid to find the leak, and the shop I took it to told me it was in a location that would require significant work to get to, and that it would likely run me $1200 or so. Even the mechanic told me he wasn't sure it was worth it on a car this old. Given that the repair cost for that is about what KBB values the car at I figured that more or less makes that decision for me.

I've used a mechanic or two in the area before, how would that work in buying? Would I ask the prospective seller to meet me at the shop? Is that done? Thoughts?


Eric, do you think I'll actually be able to find a buyer for something this old and in need of repair? I figure I'll at least check with Carmax either way and then, if they make me an offer, maybe post a cl ad slightly higher and see if it goes.

In the meantime, I'm still just trying to pick out what car to buy. No chance MMM has updated his article on this, is there? http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

nataelj

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2013, 06:46:23 AM »
Also, that is a really helpful video okashira, thanks for that.

Spork

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Re: Car buying inspection and selling an old car
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2013, 08:23:26 AM »

I've used a mechanic or two in the area before, how would that work in buying? Would I ask the prospective seller to meet me at the shop? Is that done? Thoughts?


I think you could do it any number of ways.... even down to asking the seller to drop it off at your mechanic.  Most folks are very accommodating if they're making a multi thousand dollar sale.  Occasionally you'll find some batshit crazy cranky person (especially in the craigslist realm).  When I get a whiff of that I just say "thanks, I'll pass" and move on.