Hooniverse Asks- What Mythical Car Buying Rules Do You Still Follow

Orange Vests

Whether you go new or used, buying a car is usually a pretty big investment, and not a decision to be made without some forethought. For the longest time there were certain precepts that pretty much everyone attempted to follow, lest they end up with a lemon and facing the derision of friends and family. And I’m wondering if any of those are still around today?

One of the most popular of new car buying rules was that you should never buy a Monday/Friday car. The thought was that any car built on Monday would suffer from the line workers being either hungover from the weekend, or pissed off at how short it was. Friday builds, on the other hand, would be tainted by the lack of focus of its assemblers who were looking forward to said weekend. That’s not the case any more, is it? 

Another buying rule – and one that affects both new and used – is that you should shop for a car at the end of the month, preferably on the last day. This supposedly was because dealers are hot to dump inventory before they have to pay for the loan to carry it for another month, making them hot to make a deal.

What other car-buying maxims and rules have you heard over the years, and which of those do you think still hold water. Most importantly, which of those mythical car buying rules do you still follow?

Image source: [montgomeryschoolsmd]

154 Comments

  1. Don't buy an ex rental.
    And there's no myth to that one. Hell, if I was the only guy who had ever rented that car, I still wouldn't buy it because of how I treat them….

    1. I’ve actually owned a former rental, and it was the most trouble free vehicle that I’ve owned. I didn’t actually know that it was a former rental until I had already owned it for a few years, and the only indication then was that I found out Buick never sold a non-fleet Skylark in 1998. I eventually sold it for a pittance when the intake gasket started to leak, but that was a common issue with the GM 3.1, and can’t be attributed to its life as a rental.

      1. I've replaced one of those intake gaskets, on my wife's Malibu. Huge hassle- even more so doing it in an apartment parking lot. I was about ready to sell the car halfway through.

      2. My '93 Festiva GL was an ex-Enterprise rental, and it never gave me a lick of trouble, other than a voracious appetite for front brake pads—but as with yours, that had nothing to do with being a rental.* The nice thing about it was that it was the most highly optioned Festiva I've ever seen; it literally had every premium option except one: the rear spoiler.
        *I eventually got to the point where I could swap them both out in under 20 min. I bought two pairs of lifetime pads. My test run after working on them was always down to O'Reilly's to exchange them. I'd keep the spare pair on the shelf for next time.

        1. And you could use early Mercury Tracer/Mazda 323 pads. I bought Festiva pads at the Mazda dealer one time, when the Ford dealer was out of them.

    2. I think it was Jeff Foxworthy that compared buying a rental car to picking out your wife at the whorehouse. Do you really want one that everybody has F-ed with?

    3. The thing to remember about rentals is that while they likely have been driven by a jerk every once in a while, they get driven by all sorts of different people, the vast majority of whom will drive it normally and not hoon the hell out of it just because it's a rental. Rentals, overall, end up being driven much like an "average" driver's car. When you buy a one-owner used car, it might have been mistreated throughout its life by some ham-fisted oaf (Alff?).

      1. Presumably, a rental was professionally maintained at all of the factory service intervals. This is probably not the case for the majority of privately owned cars.
        Even if a car was hooned, really, what's the worst thing they could do? A bad neutral drop or brake stand will most likely need a new transmission or nothing at all.
        Most of us have to floor the accelerator now and then to merge safely onto the freeway. The manufacturer has engineered the car to work reliably within these limits.

    4. One of the dozen or so beefs that I have with the concept of buying a rental is that it's been driven by hundreds of people who don't know the car because its not what they have at home, hence driver inputs are likely to be completely different each week. So accidental flooring from the lights, mashing the brakes as they drive it in a likely-unfamiliar city, years of doing U-Turns that clip the curb, etc. Going through carwashes 3 times a week that whip the car with dirty sandpaper-like sponges at a rate of 3,000 rpm. So, why even go there?

    1. I've got the 7 year itch with my truck. Sadly it's the longest I've ever kept a vehicle as I usually kill it/trade up every three years.
      I want a CTS Sportwagon 3.6L but am deathly afraid of buyer's remorse if I get rid of my truck.

      1. Do you use your truck, really?
        I love my F-150, and know that it is worth about absolutely nothing, so the incentive to trade/sell is not there. That said, I commute about 25 miles each day, and get turrible fuel economy. Single cab complicates things with a car seat for the kid. I never use the truck to haul stuff, but I have to have it because of Italian motorbike ownership.

        1. Occasionally I'll use it for work, but have company trucks available to me. Occasionally it'll get used for a run to the hardware store. But I don't use it everyday. My 70 mile commute everyday has relegated me to driving the Subaru while the Mrs. takes the truck for her 4 mile commute.
          If I'm honest with myself, I still love driving it but don't drive it often enough. Maybe I'll try taking it to work couple times a week and see if that eliminates the itch. Because, ideally I'd like to own a boat one day and would need a truck to haul it.
          That and I fear the judgement I'll receive pulling into a jobsite with a Caddy station wagon.

          1. Admiration would be the judgement, right? Because WAGON!
            If you get a really, really small boat, you could have your cake and eat it too.

          2. should have clarified that a bit.
            I don't want to pull up to a jobsite in a Cadillac and come off as an elitist or 1%er due to being young (35).
            Forgot about the trailer option. And I do have room to store a small one….

          3. The fact that you pull it onto a jobsite, get out, and are not an idiot should be all they need to know.

          1. Yeah, that would be the best option, aside from getting something reliable to ride, but our parking is extremely limited on our block.

    1. My thoughts on this:
      Cheap new car costs ~$20k. I could buy a nice E30 for $3000, replace *everything* for $10k, and have a really nice, very unique ride while saving thousands.

      1. There are two problems with this theory:
        1) You would have to spend the time/money DOING (or paying someone to do) all that needed replacing. Not everybody is up for this sort of effort. Some people want to just buy a car and, ya know, drive it.
        2) Let's be honest; you WON'T replace everything. The minor stuff — a worn, dirty door pull; a cracked dash knob; that only-sorta-balky electric window motor; the faded black side molding — you won't replace those because they are individually easier to live with than fix. But over time, they add up and snowball, leaving you feeling like your old car is a crappy heap, even if the major stuff has all been refurbished and it runs great.

        1. i think you just convinced me not to buy a particular car
          guess i'll keep looking…thanks a ton hooniverse…

        2. The main drawback of my plan is that it requires:
          1-time
          2-cash up front, and
          3-another car to drive while all this is going on.
          My problem in testing this plan thus far has been having both #1 and #2 at the same time. #3 has not and probably won't ever be a problem for me, though others might have to take it into consideration.
          Aaaaand, yeah, I won't replace everything everything. And it won't be brand new, no matter what I do to it.
          But it'll be cheaper. And bad-ass. And mine.

    2. I'm still working on it, but I've got a theory there are a few "dead spots" in the car price continuum.
      Based on my experience so far:
      2-5k = Good
      5-11k = Bad
      12-20k = Good
      20-30k = Bad
      Usually the "bad" zones are either overpriced versions of the lower price bracket or exceptionally craptacular versions of the upper price bracket.

        1. Scrap value on a car is basically $500, so as long as it's got all the heavy metal bits, anything around there is a good deal.
          Things get pretty volatile between $500 and 2k. You could easily get a "just want it gone" special for $7-900, drop a few weekends and a few hundred on it and sell it for a profit (or drive it for 4 years). Alternately, a 1500 car could turn out to have little value beyond scrap.
          Aside from the Uberbird, I haven't dealt in this price range much. There are a bunch of 1500-2000 cars that strike me as doable…if only I had the space and time.

  2. For Australians, don't buy a P-Plater's car. Coming from a P-Plater. I know how us damn kids treat them.

      1. All good, mate. P-platers are people still on their provisional licenses, here. You got three stages to get through (this is how NSW works, it varies state to state) L-plates (can't drive without a fully licensed driver in the vehicle. Can't go faster than 80km/h. Must do 120 hours on these, and hold them for a year. Red P-plates (can drive on your own, can't tow a trailer, vehicle restrictions IE; <200kw, non-turbo, <8 cylinders, etc etc must be held for one year.) and green P-plates (can go 100km/h. Now allowed to tow a trailer. Same
        car restrictions. Must be held for 2 years before going for full license).
        Sorry about the garbage formatting, typed it out on my phone. Hope that helps, anyway!
        Edit: it's late here, there's no doubt things I've missed.

  3. As a guy living in the rust belt who's been buying crappy cars for years, I field strip as much of the car in the sellers driveway or dealership as possible to inspect for rust. If the seller won't let me do that, I won't buy the car as they're probably hiding something.

    1. Even here in Texas, when I went to buy the ultra-clean 2005 STS a couple of years back, I brought a floor jack and a creeper.
      Found nothing, guy didn't hesitate for a second to let me check anything I wanted.
      Bought it, no haggling.

      1. That's the cool thing. If the person is being truthful about the car they have no problems of you wanting to check it out. If they're hesitant to let you look, then things may be fishy.

    2. naw dude. i wouldn't let some jackass i don't know start taking my car apart in the driveway.
      i've read people on car forums recommending removing airboxes and taking body panels off for inspection. i wouldn't want a potential buyer doing that to a car i'm selling even if i had nothing to hide simply because i know nothing about him, his intentions, and his ability to put it all back together correctly.
      i'm not saying that as a buyer you shouldn't ask, but i wouldn't assume that a refusal on the seller's part means he has something to hide. if he doesn't let you lift the car to look underneath or something that'd be fishy, but taking cars apart i can understand sellers being uncomfortable with, especially sellers who don't know a lot about car mechanicry.

    3. No myth to that. In my little corner of the rust belt, the issue is made worse by the fact that people selling cars don't think that rust is a factor in pricing said cars … i guess because there are so many rusty cars. Nonetheless, no, i don't think your 15 year old Cherokee is worth at least $3000 because the missing rocker panel on the driver's side is one thing but it also indicates that there are probably a great many malignant areas of the vehicle.
      Or, "typical Toyota rust" means you can't stand in the bed of the truck for fear of falling through, nor can you steady yourself on the box sides without punching a hole in the vehicle. Yeah, i get it. That's why my '87 Pickup became a camp truck but i'm still not giving you $3000 for something that's half dissolved already.

    1. My old college roommate had a stint selling cars. One of the other salesmen at the dealership had a customer who indicated she would sleep with the salesman for a good deal on the car. He slept with her, of course, and figured anybody stupid enough to try that had no idea what a good deal would actually be (this was before internet pricing details were available). He actually wrote a deal so profitable for the dealership that the sale earned him his biggest commission of the quarter.

    2. Note: Sometimes dealers also do this.
      There was a dealer in Saskatoon that had three types of salespeople. One, an attractive blonde from the Ukraine with great legs, to sell to single fellas (like me). Two, an attractive man with presumably attractive man features to sell to single ladies. Three, ugly buggers to sell to couples. It was kind of genius actually, though I didn't buy anything from them, since a game was afoot. I did like visiting the dealer though.

  4. Know your "stuff".
    Used car salespeople have to deal with all types of cars and unless they are car-guys, they make crap up. Debunking them is fun really.
    My folks bought a used 5 series from the same guy I bought my 5000. He said he was glad I stayed home when they negotiated- I intimidated HIM.

  5. Buy a car that you genuinely like. The money you save now by buying a car that wasn't your first choice will be eaten up when you trade it in earlier than you would have if you liked it.

    1. Similarly, never test drive a car you really really want but is juuuuusst out of your price range. I'm looking at you, bastard Boss 302.

      1. When I bought my current bike the salesman told me "Don't test ride it unless you're pretty sure you want to buy. The test ride almost always seals the deal on these."
        I knew the guy's reputation as a straight shooter more interested in getting repeat happy customers than scoring a quick sale.
        He was right.

    2. I like this rule, and should try harder to be better at it. I’ve owned many cars over the years, and I’ve never regretted any that I wanted, even in the cases where they’ve proven to be particularly troublesome. The only purchases that I’ve regretted were either purchased as stop-gaps when I needed a car right away or as some sort of compromise as something “close enough” to what I actually wanted. One car gets a dishonorable mention as an ill-conceived profit venture.

    3. What I wanted in 1981, which was being sold as a new noncurrent for $2895:
      <img src="http://www.classic-british-motorcycles.com/images/1979Triumph-T140-BonnevilleSpecial.jpg"&gt;
      What I ended up buying for $2495 because I couldn't pony up the extra 16%:
      <img src="http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/Gallery%20%20A/Triumph%20Bonneville%20T140V%2073.jpg&quot; width="300">
      Granted, nowadays I would prefer the standard over the Special, but at the time I was always a little ambivalent about it because it wasn't what I went in to buy.

      1. My fellow engineer often says he has done all his inventions (some of those patented) while drunk. What do the engineers who designed your car drink at lunch?

    1. That's part of the joy of Chrysler Product Ownership! Besides, how hungover do you think they aren't in the morning?

    2. To be fair, i once sat through a workplace "don't smoke weed" lecture where the guy actually handed out a sheet that told us how many drinks we could have a lunch (based on weight) and be ok to come back to work. It was a factory, with dangerous machines and forktrucks and the like. He wasn't a union rep or even an employee, but a consultant who specialized in "don't do drugs" lectures.
      So those guys might actually be following the recommendation of their drug and alcohol policy.

  6. The buying at the end of the month thing probably still holds true, IF you are buying used and buying from a dealership. The end of the year is even better. They have to pay taxes on inventory.
    Although I have done it 3 or 4 times, don't buy a used car at night.

    1. Very much true. The worst mistake is to buy a used car from an authorized dealer of the make. They know everything that is typically wrong with the car, and they are masters in hiding it. As well as in dodging the warranty. According to the local Ford dealer, defective drive shafts are not covered by an extended powertrain warranty.

  7. Say "hell no" to any add-on the F&I guy tries to sell you as he's writing up the paperwork.
    That's one I'll follow until I die.

    1. I remember the Acura dealer trying to sell me laser etching on the window in order to make my car recoverable after it has been stolen and stripped.
      Um, no.

    2. Negotiating the Expedition, the salesguy had down $600 for tire warranty and sensors (those valve caps that pop red when low) and $600 for an aftermarket alarm. I wanted no part of that. The truck already has TPMS and an alarm from the factory. He said they were already on the car.
      He said "This is all the money I'll make. Cut me some slack man." Paid for the tire thing. Showed up the next weekend to have the alarm removed. Adviser said to leave it. Wasn't worth taking out.

      1. <img src="http://s5.thisnext.com/media/250×250/Tire-Pressure-Valve-Caps-Set_8CE481C5.jpg"&gt;
        "those valve caps that pop red when low" are a menace anyway. They depress your valve stems when screwed on, so the sole thing keeping your tires inflated is the glued seal between the plastic housing and the clear plastic upper cap. After about 12-18 months of UV rays and varying temperatures, one of them will fail. Once the clear cap comes off, your tire deflates in about 60 seconds. It happened to me and to two other suckers friends I know.

        1. Good to know!
          I took them off for real caps as soon as get got it home.
          I have them in the toolbox. Time to play.

  8. <img src="http://cdn.appappeal.com/pictures/14209/logo.png"&gt;
    I used to live and die by the Consumer Reports reliability ratings, and only consider models with the "much above average" red dot. I still use their survey results, which is about the only reasonably accurate, non-anecdotal research available. However, now I'll consider anything they rate average or better, because 1) average today is as trouble-free as the coveted red dot was 20 years ago and 2) you'll otherwise end up driving something like a Camry, which is in many ways worse than massive repair bills.

    1. check out truedelta. not a huge sample size yet i don't think but it's an interesting project. i register my cars on their site – can't complain that it isn't complete enough if i don't contribute.

    2. In Europe, always check the TÜV numbers. The Germans usually know what they are doing during their periodic technical control, and sample numbers are huge. Swedish "Bilprövningen"-results are another reliable source.
      If I am going to look at a car I know little about, I usually check CarSurvey, too.

    3. When I've bought things like vacuum cleaners and DVD players, I've gone with Consumer Reports' suggestions all the way. That has always worked out great.
      When I've bought cars, I've always gone completely against their suggestions, and that has worked out great. My wife's Civic is a first year 8th gen, and wasn't recommended when we bought it new. She loves it and it's been super reliable (though there is the Honda/Toyota exception mentioned elsewhere). My Jeep is, well, it's a Wrangler. Consumer Reports hates Wranglers; they have been the lowest scoring, most anti-recommended vehicle for the entire time I've had a subscription (and I suspect for quite a while before that). CR would never, not in a million years, recommend buying one, new or used. It is the most awesome truck I have ever driven, and for what it does and how I use it, there is nothing better. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
      I still read their car reviews.

      1. I still don't understand the blue state/red state thing. They've got it so unintuitively backwards. Left wing = red (communists, socialists, labor unionists) Conservative = blue (dark blue suits, blue bloods, blue chip stocks).

  9. I bought a brand new car the last day of 2012, my first in about a decade. Got it for 20% off MSRP, and a grand or so under what Edmunds TMV said. All I really had to do as a negotiating tactic was shrug and walk towards my well-worn trade-in one time, telling them they didn't have what I wanted. They sold me what they had (a bigger, nicer car) at about the price of what I was actually shopping for. Worked out nice.

  10. Don't buy in anger. This is more something I should be following rather than have followed, but it does lead to making stupid decisions.

  11. Never buy a 1st model year car.
    This one is actually fairly true. After a major redesign, the 1st model year is the most likely to suffer from issues that are corrected for later model years.
    Interestingly, in the early 2000s when I worked at Ford there was a study that said this did not hold true for Honda and Toyota. The study I read actually found the rule was reverse for them. The reason? Honda and Toyota would routinely go with the engineers' recommendations for the first model year then have the engineers see if they could decontent the cars over the model cycle. Things like shields, insulation, seals, etc. would be removed from the vehicle in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th years before the next major redesign. The US automakers were the exact opposite. Management would fight tooth and nail to not put a shield, insulation, seal, etc. on a vehicle until it was proven necessary either through testing, warranty claims, or customer complaint.

    1. That's not always true with Ford. The last couple years of MN12 Thunderbird lost some minor features because Ford was too cheap to invest. For example, earlier models had a light in the lower door panel, but the '96-'97 models lost it and had it replaced by a simple reflector.

    2. Dude, I always subscribed to this, then I went and did it…on my first, and only, new car. 1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX+.
      Regretted that decision for years.
      The manufacturer may have played a larger part than I give them credit for.
      Alternatively, two used vehicles I have now were both 1st year, a 1999 Fleetwood Bounder 39Z diesel-pusher motorcoach, and a 2005 Cadillac STS. The Fleetwood had issues, but I knew about them before buying it, and knocked off value accordingly.
      The STS has been solid. Well, as solid as a GM can be.
      BTW, the magnetic ride rear struts are going to cost me $900 for the pair…and that's a borderline steal.

        1. 500 times a second! So if you can get yourself to believe you pay 1$ for every adjustment, you're in the plus after less than two seconds. Great! =8^)

    3. I had the same experience with our VWs. The '98 Passat was a huge breakthrough for them. Along with the New Beetle, it's the car that basically kept them out of bankruptcy in the US and made them relevant again (it won almost every comparo test 98-99).
      The wife's 2001 model was a "refresh" but was far more complex and has had a lot more trouble, including failing components that are still going strong on my car.
      So I'm more of the opinion that the old "first-year" rule doesn't always apply, especially when it's a very important model for the company.

      1. I'll never again buy a VW that costs more than a grand is my rule.
        / I would flesh this out more, like how maybe someday I just might (type I, rabbit cabrio, VW fox, sqaureback, etc), the funny story about my dad, maybe disagree-agree some with you, how I'm not making a cheap shot, etc. BUT HOLY DONKEY BALLS IT'S ASH!!!!!!!!

        1. When I was looking to replace my Volvo 240 last spring, I involved my mechanic who is scouting cars, too. A Previa was an option, so was a very well kept 940. One day when I just stopped by for a chat, he offered me a 2004 VW Sharan with a new engine for the same price I'd pay for a nicish 1998 Volvo 940 with 200000km on the odometer. I smiled knowingly and said nothing more than I don't want to see him that often.

        2. Hahaha…yeah, let's just say I've had it with Jalopnik. Nothing against any of the people, but the new format is so radically different, I just can't find anything or make sense of it. I haven't really been a HUGE fan of the Hooniverse layout and content, but relative to the new Jalop changes, it's huge solace 😀

          1. I think you'll find plenty of great stuff to comment on here if you hang around. Like the morning questions, RASH (British perspective on car advertising), and the Last Calls are pretty neat-o pretty consistently. Jim is recovering now, but when Classic Captions returns, you are really going to be in your element again! And there are always surprises, like the got me right here vroom-vroom vid today and the 242 based hearse (well maybe that was more my taste). How's the fatherhood stuff? Kids are pretty mind explodingly awesome aren't they! Job okay too? Anyway, it was just really great seeing you around again, keep on keeping on.

    4. I think this depends upon how new you're talking. If it's an evolution of an existing car, you're probably fine, as the new one will probably still be quite well sorted.
      It also depends on the trim you're buying. Sometimes, new features can be problematic while the carryover ones are bulletproof.
      We bought a 2005 Honda Odyssey with 65k on the clock in 2009. 2005 was the first year of that body/interior style, but the major systems of the car, including powertrain, brakes, electrics, and so forth, were all carryover with a new face slapped on them. And I made certain we didn't get a VCM model with the 3-cylinder mode and active engine mount, which was prone to failure. And I sure as hell didn't want a Touring, with those PAX tires.

      1. Very true, and how major. Mid-cycle refreshes typically won't be a problem except for any new systems that might have been introduced (ahem…SYNC). It's the major re-do's or all-new models that you have to watch out for. Even then, things to watch out for are new engine options and the like.

    5. My '05 Dakota is the 1st year of that version, but it hasn't been bad. I did have to have a tranny cooler line replaced, and also the front swaybar endlinks, but otherwise the items I've had to fix were things that probably were carryover.

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    1. Only buy vehicles made in the 80s. Without really meaning to I've stuck by that and it's served me well.

    2. But… but.. after I hit the big lottery, how could I then establish my collection of fine 1920's classics?

  12. He who hesitates is last.
    When I stumble across a really good deal, if I don't get it someone else will. I remember calling the seller of a particular roadster and coming out to look at his car with cash in hand. It was about an hour drive. 15 minutes from the destination I saw a car driving the other way. It caught my attention, not only for being sharp looking, but for exactly matching the description of the car I was planning to buy. It was indeed that car.
    I looked at a 60+ year old pickup to fix up, discussed it over dinner with my wife, then called the seller to pull the trigger. Too late.
    I looked at a Syclone, gave the guy a deposit, and then his phone rang — someone else was wanting it. Ha! I got there first that time.

    1. <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/watercraft-at-lake.jpg&quot; width="450">
      When we went to look at the Sea-Doo GTS (on the left), another family was already there looking at it when we arrived. It had less than 150 hours on it, had been stored in a heated drive-in basement, and looked showroom-perfect. Even the bilge was spotless. The seller's asking price translated into a 70% depreciation hit. After about 2 minutes of looking it over, I said "Sold. We'll take it." The other couple, who were just standing around chatting, were a little stunned. Their teenage son was pissed.

    2. This. In December i saw a brief ad for an e30 325iX at the low, low price of $2000. I replied and got nothing for like three weeks. When the guy wrote back, he informed me that the transfer case had been completely replaced and there was another (including viscous coupling) in the trunk. Had he written me back three days earlier, i would have been in Detroit. I didn't care about the little bit of rust or worn interior, it would be a winter beater.
      What i should have done was say, "Sold" and bought a plane ticket. The coupling would have covered the flight. I didn't and it was gone.

  13. Not sure if it's mythical or common sense, but don't buy a car remotely, regardless of who you have look at it.
    I knew there were some rust issues on my project Wagoneer, but I just pulled up the carpets to find this:
    <img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-jbaYTAKlAmA/URcs0lkBL0I/AAAAAAAAD7o/KE4rwthNFL0/s828/P2090007.JPG&quot; width=600>
    Also supports my "don't buy a car between 5 and 12k" rule. They're rarely better than cheaper examples or worth whatever you're giving up Vs a 14k example.

    1. I did the sight unseen thing once. Got extremely lucky. Didn't even have anybody look at. The car had lived in a non-rust area all it's life and was being sold by a serviceman about to go on tour. I felt pretty confidant.
      I now sort of regret ever buying that car. I put what I payed into it and then sold it for 1/5 of the total investment just so I didn't have to see it again.

    2. I put a deposit down for my car which was at a Lexus dealer across the country. I figured it was worth flying up one way and flying back if it was junk. The salesman was exactly right, no issues and drove that bad boy home.
      Now buying from a private party and driving cross country… I'd have to think about it.

    3. That can go very badly – the Q45 I bought from Texas. "Everything works" – well sure, once you've pumped another two or three grand into it, then it will.
      It can also go very well – the two cars I've imported from Japan (WRX and MR2) were both basically perfect despite being fifteen years old. But there they have a big export business and understand that misrepresenting your product is no good if you want to keep selling overseas.

    4. Couldn't agree more about that price range thought! I had a look at a Toyota Avensis once that was three times my normal price (and still a cheap one for the common people, yes). Couldn't believe my eyes because I wouldn't even have paid my normal price for it.

      1. There was a vinyl (or something) sheet/layer under the carpet (you can see the underside of it in the picture). When I pulled the carpet and sheeting, the metal came with it…then I kicked out the super-thin fragments remaining.
        Good news is patch panels are $22 from rockauto…need to pull all the carpet to see if I need 1 or 4. Also need to figure out when the right time is to buy the $640 master weatherstripping kit…

      1. what about the seller's thumb in the photo over the plate…and most of the front bumper?
        i've seen this…

        1. So have I! It's the best when it's only the front shot, makes me wonder if the car took a punch to the nose rather that it being the just obscuring a plate thing 😉

  14. I've had good luck with the following:
    * check out spelling mistake ads. I bought a truck from a guy who mis-spelled Mazda and it was a classified wallflower because of that.
    try different poorly spelled variations of the model, you might be surprised.
    * related.. look at the ugly sister name plate car. again, mazda tribute if you were in the market for an escape
    * end of the month for dealers on commission.
    * related… never buy from a dealer
    * look for a car that has been on the market too long, the seller might be desperate or tired and will cut a much better deal than at the beginning.
    * never let them see your excitement

  15. Know the major failings/big maintenance issues of the model. Often you can tell from the first phone call whether it's worth looking at. "When was the last timing belt change?" Long silence. "Ok, thanks, i'll think about it."

  16. FIrst thing, I want to see the title. A crisp, lien-free title in the name of the person who is selling the car is a beautiful thing. Other conditions, less so. Lost title? Pass. Multiple title reassignments and a soiled stack of indecipherable bills of sale going back 10 years? Pass pass pass.
    Ads containing the letters "JDM" = Run, do not walk.
    Contain your enthusiasm.

  17. If buying a new car from a dealer..never talk price with the guy who showed you the car or took you for the test drive. They are the mooks who do the leg work for the sales guy. Ditto the earlier comment about rejecting everything the F& I guy brings up.
    Used car: never buy a car that someone is selling for a friend.

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