I thought I knew how to buy a used car…afterall, I have purchased several of them and worked with them throughout the years. I mean, I know what to look for and what is good and bad, right?
Well, I THOUGHT I knew how to buy a used car. I THOUGHT I knew what to look for…Was I ever in for a surprise!
I looked at several used cars for my daughter and finally bought one I thought would be good for her. I looked at it when it was raining — well, pouring — so of course, I didn’t crawl underneath. I didn’t notice the front bumper plastic was broken and the reinforcing bar was crooked. It was wet so I didn’t notice the paint was missing from the roof and spoiler and a few smaller spots. I mean, it didn’t look any different. The interior was dirty and smelled like stale pizza, but that’s because the kid who owned the car was a pizza delivery guy. What do you expect? Plastic, cloth and carpets can be cleaned and swept. A couple dents here and there…no big deal. The engine sounded good, but because of the rain, I didn’t drive it. Shifting the automatic transmission was good, but I didn’t put a load on it. It’s raining, so I didn’t spend too much time under the hood because I didn’t want to get soaked. Let’s see, it needs 2 tires, a front end alignment, and front brakes. Ok, sign the papers and let’s get this baby home!
I drove the car home and into the shop and didn’t think any more about it. The next day, I went to the shop to look at my prize purcahse. I swear, THEY SWITCHED CARS ON ME WHEN I WAS SIGNING THE PAPERS! This COULDN’T be the same car I just looked at! Maybe someone switched cars in the middle of the night…but the interior still smelled like stale pizza and there is still the same dent in the right front fender and the same one by the gas tank door, so it HAS to be the same car.
The first thing I noticed was the paint missing from the roof and spoiler. How could I not see that? Ok, it was wet and didn’t show up. Open the hood and look at all the dirt. Hey, it smells like anti-freeze…there’s a crack in the radiator tank and it’s leaking. There’s no way I would have seen that with all the rain. Then I crawl under to look at things…that’s when the real problems started. The CV joints are broken. Grrr….should have seen that. I knew it needed front brakes, but the rotors are scored too. There is an exhaust leak, the rear brakes do not exist, and it needs new wheel bearings. I knew it needed 2 new tires, but with winter coming, I really should get 4 tires and it BADLY needs a front end alignment. The doors are rusty and there is rust underneath. The trunk is torn apart and needs all new fasteners to put it bakc together. It needs a new radio antenna and the CD player does not work. Some of the lights don’t work. A few new hoses, air intake hose, air filter, oil change, transmission oil change, new anti-freeze, brake fluid, miscellaneous nuts and bolts and interior fasteners, clean the spark plugs, a little of this and that and it looks like a new car! Well, almost. Good news is it DOES NOT need a new timing belt. The belt in there looks almost new.
It bothered me that the hood did not sit right over the headlights on the right side. I wanted to adjust the hood, but my husband was against that because of how much of a pain it is. Then when he was under the car looking at some other things he noticed the plastic on the bottom of the bumper was cracked. THEN he saw that the bumper reinforcing bar was bent. It was pushed into the air conditioning unit on the right side, which is why the hood didn’t fit right on that side. We never thought to look at the front to see if everything was straight! So now we need a new bumper and reinforcing bar.
Well, to make a long story short, we put more into the car than we thought we needed to when we bought it. If we had looked more closely, we would have seen most of the things that were wrong. Maybe not the paint, and maybe not the cracked radiator, but we really should have seen everything else. It’s a car that we should have passed up and kept looking. We paid too much for the condition it was in and had to put too much into it. We made the mistake that a person who never bought a used car would make…”I want this kind of car and I want one now, so I’m getting this one”. The bad thing is…I KNOW what to look for in a used car! Well, hopefully, NEXT time I will know BETTER what to look for and won’t make as many mistakes. The car does look pretty good now and runs very nicely, and my daughter is happy, even with a hunting arrow as a radio antenna, so I guess it worked out. Just an expensive project for me.