How to Avoid These Three Used Car-Buying Disasters

 July 27, 2018  1:29 PM

So, you’ve finally decided you need to replace the current wheelbarrow you’re driving around (or don’t have). You know you’re going for a used vehicle because you’re smart, and that there are a multitude of different benefits that come with buying a used car.

But, the question is, how smart are you exactly when it comes to choosing and buying that used car? While buying a used car is often the way to go when searching for a new ride, often times the fairytale can turn into a horror story if not done right. Here are some stories of people who thought they could handle the challenge and came away with their tail between their legs (and how you can avoid falling into a similar trap).

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“Bought a used VW Golf TDi from a so-called VW TDi ‘Specialist.’ It was ‘fully inspected’ before it was sold and had a one-year ‘warranty.’ Yeah.

Within three weeks, it blew the Turbo out, had a glow plug harness go bad, bad horn, transmission problem, bad brakes, a rebuilt head, wrong vacuum lines, wrong (non-diesel) coolant, non-functional headlights that were flopping around loose, no turbo heat shield, a clutch fixed with hair spray (it works … temporarily), an undisclosed accident, and a bad rear shock and bushings.”

“I was the victim of something called curbstoning. Here’s how it works:

A sleazy dealer buys a car cheap at auction that can be made to look good but has been in a wreck or is otherwise seriously flawed. He parks the car outside a beauty parlor, nail salon, or even a nice home with a for sale sign that says to see Judy inside. He might even put stuff in it that makes it look like it belongs to a woman.

Then hair stylist Judy, for a piece of the action, pretends to be the owner and tells prospective buyers that she loves the wonderful car but she’s getting married or having a baby and needs something bigger. If asked why the registration is in a man’s name, she says her father registered it to save on insurance.

I hate to admit it but I once fell for this and bought a little sports car that looked perfect but turned out to have a bent frame.”

Horror story #3: Deceptive History Report

Horror Story 3 | Car Buying Disasters | Car Buying Checklist

“I bought a Hyundai Sonata that had no history of accidents from a used car lot. The car started leaking fluid, so I took it to a dealership for a warranty repair. I was told the windshield fluid reservoir was cracked – and that the front bumper that had been replaced, the radiator was damaged, the frame was bent, plus other evidence that the car had been in a crash. What’s more, the car had been driven without any coolant, causing it to overheat and damage the engine.


Since all these problems were caused by an accident, the warranty was suddenly void, and I had to pay to fix everything. Take it from me: a ‘clean’ vehicle history report isn’t a substitute for an inspection.”

Moral of the Stories Here?

As a shopper, you have to do your homework before buying a vehicle. Otherwise, you might just end up with a dud that costs thousands of dollars to fix. Here’s some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Pick a good car
  • Make sure the car has been thoroughly inspected and has a warranty
  • Get a good loan and make sure the dealership is credible
  • Be a savvy buyer

To help you even more, we’ve created the ultimate downloadable checklist to carry around with you when you go used-car shopping. It goes through all the types of reports you can or should order for your vehicle, what items should be covered in an inspection, warranties, and more.

Take it from the pros: it’s just not worth it to try and buy a car without a game plan.

Download the Savvy Shopper’s Ultimate Car-Buying Checklist here.

Car Buying Checklist | Mac James

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