I still hold my ground on that you get a better deal when you buy a used vehicle compared to buying brand new. Of course there is risk in everything we do as consumers, but I think if you can narrow your odds through some common sense, then you will always come out ahead. New is nice, but I am hearing more and more friends telling me that they have had more troubles then they deserve from the dealers that they bought from than compared to those who purchased a used car from a private sale. But, like the title says, it is hard to compare lemons to oranges.
O Kay, funny story first.
Last week, while I was coming back home, I came across my next door neighbour’s wife, who looked pissed, as she was walking along the road. She was about 3km from her place, so I stopped and offered her a ride the rest of the way. She climbed in, and just started ranting about how her brand new Ford Pick-up that they just bought two weeks ago, stalled about a block further up the road, and that it was the very same problem that she had it in to get fixed at the dealership three times before. There is one thing that I have learned when someone is as mad as she was, and that is, never interrupt, just listen. I was parked in her driveway for a good five minutes before she finished the first course of her diatribe, and I motioned that I had to leave for home quickly (before she started up on the second verse).
Last Saturday I talked to her husband, who told me more about what was going on with their truck. There was a wiring glitch that would cause the engine to shut off. It was totally random. It had gotten to the point that they were afraid to take it out on the road because of this. Each time the truck stopped working, they would tow it back to the dealership, and their mechanic would have it on the hoist overnight. When they came to collect their pick-up at the shop, the dealership said that the problem was fixed. And each time it was brought in, there was a different problem found that needed to be fixed–and on top of all of this, they had to pay for some of those services! We call this the car that was “built on a Monday morning” at the assembly line. For my neighbour he calls it $38,000.00 worth of headaches.
So, this is what I would do.
First, since I only buy used, I get my mechanic fiend to take it out on the test drive, and let him give it the going over/360 inspection. I also let my mechanic ask the questions for me, since I have very little experience in these matters. Some shops charge a small fee for this service if you do not have a friend who is a mechanic.
Secondly, before I commit to buying, I would do a search on the vehicle. Not just the insurance company search, but a full legal search as well, making sure that it has no liens on it, or if the vehicle was stolen. Checking for accidents too is nice, but those service I find unreliable, as my mechanic usually can sniff out major repairs done to it.
Lastly, I let my mechanic do the first tune up, and then put it on a regular tune up schedule at his shop. Each time that I bring it in, my mechanic will do an inspection and tell me if there are problems and advise me as to what to do, for example, replace a timing chain as its about to expire, and brake inspections.
How well you look after your things, I think, plays into it as well. If you keep your vehicles well maintained, and act on any potential problems before they occur, then you should stay out on top from braking down and left stranded. And of course, make one of your best friends a mechanic; it is the best insurance you can have.