With an automobile being the second largest investment we are all faced with -- You bet it's a BIG decision!. When confronted with buying a new or used car, you had better arm yourself with information. Do NOT rely on the seller to provide you with info. Even if someone you know is selling the car! With all the best intentions, they may not now what is lurking under the hood. Only a certified technician is capable of inspecting a vehicle and knowing what is good and what is bad.
Many consumers are foiled into thinking that a "Dealer Certified Vehicle" is sufficient reason not to get a vehicle inspected. However, many dealers may not do a proper inspection or fix any problems due to the cost of the repair. They rely on the odds of a vehicle not breaking down within their warranty period. Or, if you do have a problem, they will fix it then. How many other problems were skipped over?
Conversely, a carfax report also provides false sense of security. Carfax provides insurance claim information and repairs performed under warranty. This does not tell you what type of maintenance has been done. It does not tell you the intake gasket is leaking. In fact, we have found, not all insurance information may be reported! After running two VIN numbers of known vehicles, we found two incidents not reported!
Also, don't believe for second that an Extended Warranty will take care of problems you'll have down the road! Basically, warranty companies want your premium and do NOT want to pay money out. Consider that you have to pay for a premium of about $1,000.00 (give or take a couple hundred). When you do have a problem with the vehicle, you will have to pay a deductable of about $100.00. You still have to pay a professional to diagnose your problem $40-$90+. Many repairs will not be covered unless very specific to the contract. You will have to pay for fluid and other fees not covered. I would approximate that 90% of my customers are not happy with their warranty contracts. There have been a couple that had their transmissions replaced, but what are the odds! They still had to pay money up front, and they may have not had a transmission go out. Best yet, place $1,000.00 aside (your money) in case you do have a major problem or simply use that money on maintenance to keep you from having a breakdown.
The best defense is knowledge! Go to Denny's Auto Diagnosis' Useful Links for a few pre-purchasing tools. Consider your local market value by checking area publications for advertisements. Check out several vehicles yourself so you can get a feel for a good value. Once you think you have a keeper, Schedule An Appointment for a 65 point inspection before your purchase. Most vehicles are in need of some repair or maintenance. Chances are, we will find enough wrong with the vehicle to help you save money at the bargaining table.
Vehicles break down -- That's what they do and we all know it. Many failures are unpredictable, but we can minimize failures with inspections.