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Old 02-19-2019, 08:57 PM
 
28 posts, read 5,322 times
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Is it cheaper if you have one mechanic look at several cars in your area?

What if you have to travel 30 minutes just to look at a car?

Would you have the mechanic travel with you by giving him a ride? Or Would you have to use a local mechanic for that area?

How much would it cost usually?

Would it be worth it to have a car costing $800 - $1500 inspected? If all you want to do is get a year out of it and send it to the scrapyard in case it needs any major repairs.
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:22 PM
 
11,046 posts, read 42,158,727 times
Reputation: 14477
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marchwagon View Post
Is it cheaper if you have one mechanic look at several cars in your area?


I've never seen a shop give a volume discount on looking at multiple cars. I wouldn't, but I can't speak for every other shop and their billing policies.

What if you have to travel 30 minutes just to look at a car?

I've traveled all over the USA to do pre-buy inspections for my clients. My travel time is billable and per-diems were commensurate with the expenses incurred to provide services.

If you need a tech to travel 30 minutes to "look at a car", it's billable time lost to his other clients in a day's work. Shop overhead and expenses keep on ticking while he's out of the shop, and they're paid for by shop billable labor time and other profits. IMO, a tech is entitled to be paid for their professional time. But again, I can't speak for the billing practices of other shops.


Would you have the mechanic travel with you by giving him a ride? Or Would you have to use a local mechanic for that area?

My transportation to do pre-buys has been by various means. I prefer to use my own shop vehicles (or airplane if the trip is less than 800 miles) because I bring along the various diagnostic and inspection tools needed to do a proper pre-buy report.

Again, other techs may have a different perspective on how to do their work.

But how do you expect a competent inspection to be done without appropriate tools? How about a compression and/or leak-down test on an engine? What about electrical/electronics items? is the tech supposed to be able to give you a competent professional evaluation just by "looking at the car"?


How much would it cost usually?

Part of my pre-buy inspection is to determine the expectations of my client. If they say, for example, I want a car that has never been in an accident, then my first checks will be for obvious signs of such damage. If I spot such damage in the first few minutes, I stop my inspection and consult with my client. If I've satisfied their inquiry about a car at that point, then I only charge my minimum rate. If I take a couple hours to go through a car … and some require that level of inspection, sometimes even more hours (now we're into collectables and I've had to check everything from fuel pump pressure/volume to the integrity and condition of old fuel tanks with a borescope after draining a tank … well, you get the idea, these are very detailed inspections of high dollar cars that can need a lot of restoration work to run properly) … then they're billed for time required. Of course, I document my inspection report with photos and diagnostic analysis.

IMO, it would not be unreasonable for a tech on-site to have a minimum of 1/2 hour of their billing rate to "look at" a car. Again, each shop will have their business practices. Some will have a "flat rate" cursory inspection and report, which may or may not be suitable for your purposes.


Would it be worth it to have a car costing $800 - $1500 inspected? If all you want to do is get a year out of it and send it to the scrapyard in case it needs any major repairs.

IMO, NO. With a car in that price range, you're mostly looking at one of two items:

1) stuff that's pretty well at the end of or near a useful economic service life, on it's last legs. Buy it at your own risk, get what you can out of it and send it goodbye when appropriate, or

2) stuff that the owner doesn't know what they've got and just need to get rid of it. For example, the proverbial elderly owned car that they don't need/want anymore for whatever reason. It may have a significant useful service life remaining in it. In some marketplaces, these cars may show up more frequently than others. Bear in mind that the used car lots are aggressively searching the market for these gems for inventory, so you've got competition to find and buy one before somebody else does. The guys I know in the car biz check all the ads and look at bulletin boards, check with friends in elder social circles to "bird dog" such finds, etc .. and they're at it every morning, first thing. If you're lucky enough to find one of these buys, have cash in your pocket and be sure the seller has a clear title to properly sign over to you. Notarized if needed in your state. Good luck and happy hunting.

Last edited by sunsprit; 02-19-2019 at 09:32 PM..
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:37 PM
 
17,235 posts, read 18,668,559 times
Reputation: 25029
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marchwagon View Post
Is it cheaper if you have one mechanic look at several cars in your area?

What if you have to travel 30 minutes just to look at a car?

Would you have the mechanic travel with you by giving him a ride? Or Would you have to use a local mechanic for that area?

How much would it cost usually?

Would it be worth it to have a car costing $800 - $1500 inspected? If all you want to do is get a year out of it and send it to the scrapyard in case it needs any major repairs.
A car that cheap is usually a beater and most likely needs a lot of mechanical work. If everyone bought cars that cheap because I usually needed a donor car so I took what I wanted and dumped the rest cheap
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Old Yesterday, 07:23 AM
 
38,267 posts, read 39,540,611 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrician4you View Post
A car that cheap is usually a beater and most likely needs a lot of mechanical work.

I sold two cars in that price range that weren't that bad. One of them was for $300. The paint was falling off it, interior was in pretty bad shape and it had 200k. Overall it was in decent shape mechanically. The other was for $1200, with low miles* on it. Interior and exterior was still in really good condition and mechanically it was fine. Trouble with that car was R-title and 20 years old. The R-title was from some minor front end damage but they hit the battery, the dash was replaced so I dind't know the actual mileage but it wasn't much. I put 40K on it without any electrical issues...


As far as getting a car like that inspected you are playing the lottery, a mechanic is likely going to find issues with any car in that price range. Does it sound good? Is it leaking any fluids? Does it ride nice without any weird sounds? Is there any major rust issues? No warning lights on the dash? Inspection complete for vehicle in that price range.
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Old Yesterday, 07:37 AM
 
3,956 posts, read 7,491,683 times
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Look on youtube for videos on how to inspect a car. Most of the basic stuff is just common sense and easy to spot -- oil leak, rust, fluid color, weird noise, lights that don't work, etc.

Start the car with the radiator cap off. Coolant should not come flying out of the radiator. Put the cap back on and turn on the A/C, heater. The cooling fans should come on. With the engine on and the hood open, watch for the cooling fans to turn on when the temperature gets hot enough. These are some of the things you can do by yourself.

Last edited by davidt1; Yesterday at 07:52 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
25,668 posts, read 61,158,408 times
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Our local guy charges $100. Sometimes he does not charge because we have a lot of family members and a lot of old cars that need work frequently. He will not travel, we have to bring the car to him for inspection. He does not do much inspection I cannot do myself, but he is able to be more thorough. He can put the car up on a lift. I do not have a lift. He can check alignment I cannot. he can run advanced computer diagnostics that I do not have the equipment to do.


If the mechanic is just going to tell you the brake shoes are worn or the rotors are warped, it is a waste of money.

For an $800 car, I would not bother. Expect the transmission and other parts to be leaking. Ehcek engine and oother wanring lights will be on. Shocks will be shot. Brakes will need replacing. If there is no sign of trans or engine problems, then you can hop to get six months to a year out of it without too many repairs.

Things to check include brake lines, transmission function at various speeds (watch for torque converter shudder). Head gasket problems. Water or oil pump issues. These are things you cannot fix and if they are on their way out, the cars days are numbered and that number is probably in the two digits.
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Old Yesterday, 11:15 AM
 
8,808 posts, read 6,490,854 times
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If you're buying cars relatively often.. Very worth it to invest about $100 for a quality scanner. For that price, you can get one that will read codes and monitors, but won't give you bidirectional controls.

In other words, not the cheapest, not the most expensive.

It does you no good to plug it in and see there are no codes without being able to read the monitors and verify whether or not they have run. If someone disconnects the battery, it can take 4 or 5 drive cycles before emissions issues show up. But, if you have a scanner that checks the monitors, and you see they haven't all run.. That would be at least something of a red flag. Especially if you ask them if the battery has been disconnected, they say no, and you see it hasn't completed the monitors.
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Old Yesterday, 11:50 AM
 
Location: In a vehicle.
4,739 posts, read 2,978,321 times
Reputation: 7630
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marchwagon View Post
Is it cheaper if you have one mechanic look at several cars in your area?

What if you have to travel 30 minutes just to look at a car?

Would you have the mechanic travel with you by giving him a ride? Or Would you have to use a local mechanic for that area?

How much would it cost usually?

Would it be worth it to have a car costing $800 - $1500 inspected? If all you want to do is get a year out of it and send it to the scrapyard in case it needs any major repairs.
If you're spending any amount over $5K then a mech is a good idea. If it's below $1,500 that's not worth checking. If it can pass DEQ then take it and drive away.

As far as a mech check goes, depends on the vehicle. I'd believe $500-$800 Depends on how detailed you want it
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Old Today, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Newburyport, MA
821 posts, read 372,884 times
Reputation: 973
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marchwagon View Post
Is it cheaper if you have one mechanic look at several cars in your area?

What if you have to travel 30 minutes just to look at a car?

Would you have the mechanic travel with you by giving him a ride? Or Would you have to use a local mechanic for that area?

How much would it cost usually?

Would it be worth it to have a car costing $800 - $1500 inspected? If all you want to do is get a year out of it and send it to the scrapyard in case it needs any major repairs.
It does depend on how extensive the checks are. Still, if an independent mechanic is charging $100/hr, they should be able to check a good deal in say 3 hrs including writing notes as they go... places that do a lot of such condition inspections usually just have a sheet they check off stuff on... 3 hrs total effort is $300. I'd do it but you want to make up your mind on the vehicle first and then make the purchase contingent on satisfactory inspection. You don't want to screen 5 cars by giving them all vehicle inspections.

Just ask for a price and ask for a list of what is being checked and how to see what you're getting for the money. I'd want to know if the car has been in a major accident where the structure was damaged (minor fender bender is okay), if the engine cylinders have good compression, plugs aren't wet with oil or buried in soot, the transmission is operating properly, and what's the condition of the brakes, suspension and steering parts. Nowadays they can also do some electronic diagnostics.

Although the mechanic should also take it out for a short test drive to assess e.g. transmission shifting, I think some of the inspection work is best done on a lift, so you'd need to bring the car into the shop.

Last edited by OutdoorLover; Today at 05:17 PM..
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Old Today, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
3,289 posts, read 1,200,287 times
Reputation: 6246
I;ve always bought cars for under2-3k, never bothered to have them inspected, and never got one that was worse than I thought it was. Couple times, I drove it by my shop and had the mechanic drive it around the block, they never charged anything.
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