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Old 11-18-2014, 06:23 AM
 
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I know nothing about cars. I'm considering buying a used car from a private seller and someone said that it's standard to take it to a mechanic to have it checked out before buying and that they would charge something like $100 to make sure it's ok.

I mean I don't get it. Find a car that looks good, find a mechanic that is close by, go to a person's place, test drive the car, if I like it tell him/her that I want to take it to a mechanic, then go to a local one...would they just drop what they are doing and turn their attention to me and do it on the spot?

Is this something people do when buying used from a private seller?
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Billings, MT
8,988 posts, read 7,076,226 times
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I don't know if it is "standard" or not (I don't), but if, as you say, you know nothing about cars, for you and others like you it would be a good idea.
Keep in mind that when buying a used vehicle it is "AS IS, WHERE IS"!
Which is to say, you bought it, and all the problems that go with it. There is NO warranty, expressed or implied, unless it is in writing.
So, yes, getting it looked at by a competent shop IS a good idea, and some shops will do it for you in hopes of getting your future business.
It may cost you $75 to $100, but it might save a lot of grief later.
Good luck.
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:25 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,720 posts, read 24,608,598 times
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I am willing to bet the vast majority of people who buy a used car do not have the car inspected by a mechanic.

But assuming the car is more than few thousand $$, and you intend to keep it a while, having it inspected is a good use of $100. Especially so since the OP says he knows nothing about cars.

If you are buying from a private seller you know, who bought the car originally, and normally takes good care of their vehicles - an inspection is probably not necessary.

The inspection (you ask for a "pre purchase inspection) will usually look for:

- evidence of body or frame damage
- evidence of good maintenance (oil changes, transmission fluids, air filters, etc.)
- brake condition
- tires, shocks, suspension
- temperature stability of the engine - proper warmup, good starting, smoke from exhaust
- they will drive the car and assess its behavior on the road - alignment, suspension performance, braking
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Cape Cod
9,782 posts, read 7,102,126 times
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I think it depends on the price of the car, the age of the car and if you have a feel for mechanics yourself. If on the test drive the car operates as it should with no funky smells or weird noises then chances are it is OK.
Bringing it to a mechanic to be checked out is a good idea and as Redraven wrote could save you a lot of grief later.
When I sold cars at a dealership on occasion we would have buyers take the car to their mechanic. We had nothing ot hide so why not. If your seller tries to talk you out of going to a mechanic there might be a reason....
Good luck
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:58 AM
 
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I haven't done this before but I've heard about it. The real issue is that I can imagine as a non-dealer seller I wouldn't want anyone to take my car anywhere without me; much less to a mechanic who I don't know anything about and who might just be best buds with the buyer to help negotiate down the price. What is comes down to is this... if I am selling a vehicle (as I have more than once), I know what is wrong with it (if anything), and I know what price I want to sell at. No third party is going to influence my decision regarding what to sell at.

Likewise as a buyer I want to be pragmatic... I would spend money on a car fax accident report on the VIN (that just seems smart), and I would take a drive and do my own inspection as well as do some research on the year/make/model associated issues.

Bringing the vehicle to a mechanic seems excessive to me and might not yield anything of value except telling me where I'm likely to need to spend money in terms of replacement parts. Mechanics are in the business to make money and are hired/fired for their ability to bring in profit/hour targets for the Garage. Of course they will take your money for an "inspection" and likewise of course they will identify things that need replacement (to make some profit) and really the only thing which may be helpful to someone like me is the possibility that the mechanic can say... "I would or wouldn't buy this vehicle for more than X." Even then, I am not certain just any mechanic's opinion is valuable in that regard.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:02 AM
 
Location: DFW
6,717 posts, read 11,162,972 times
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How about just getting Firestone's Winter Care Package for $9.99?

$9.99 Winter Car Care Package | fcac-checkup-12 | Firestone Complete Auto Care

They have a complete vehicle inspection included.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:34 AM
 
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I question how thorough one can be with these inspections. I'm not really concerned with brakes, fluids, etc. I wouldn't pay for one just to have him say "brakes are getting thin, coolant is a little low, etc"

I want service history more than anything. No way to really tell what is going on internally with the engine.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:41 AM
 
Location: DFW
6,717 posts, read 11,162,972 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IShootNikon View Post
I question how thorough one can be with these inspections. I'm not really concerned with brakes, fluids, etc. I wouldn't pay for one just to have him say "brakes are getting thin, coolant is a little low, etc"

I want service history more than anything. No way to really tell what is going on internally with the engine.
That's why I started photographing and storing every single receipt and report from the mechanic every single time I get my car serviced and store those into Evernote. When it's time to sell the car, I'll simply make the receipt folder public and post a link right on my listing.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:50 AM
 
4,429 posts, read 3,103,104 times
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Well I don't go to mechanic. I try DIY first. I do keep an excel log of all things done to car (oil, filters, fluids, brakes) and keep receipts. Most purchases are online so I have a folder in my email of vehicle (ex: 2010 Camry, etc) with all receipts.

The last car I sold we had for 3 years. The dealer checked Carfax and all that came back after I purchased it was yearly registrations.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
2,052 posts, read 4,277,952 times
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The only used car I bought from an individual I had an inspection done, just to make sure. I'd driven 3 hours for it, and wanted a second set of eyes to look at it and put it on a lift. It cost me $60 and I felt it was worth it. I just looked online for an independant mechanic close to his house and looked up their ratings on the review sites. I called and let them know I was coming by and they said it should not be a problem to do it in 45 min or so. They only found a leaking hose and that the serpentine belt needed replacement. Otherwise it was a well maintained vehicle, so I didn't even try to negotiate on the price since it was less than I was planning to pay anyway. One bummer was he had replaced the clutch the prior year, and it was working just fine when I bought it. But the cheap clutch disc broke apart about 3 months later and I had to replace it again. The prior clutch was good for over 150K miles. So even a well maintained car that is inspected can have issues after the purchase.

Good luck on it!
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