June 29

How to Buy a Good Used Car Part 2

Auto Repair


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation; we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of the famous Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 16 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well Mark.

Mark: So we’re going to talk a little bit more about buying a good used car and some of the other pitfalls to be avoided. What are some of those?

Bernie: So I’m going to talk about some categories of cars that you should be extremely cautious, possibly avoid completely but if you’re going to buy one just be extremely cautious. So I’ve basically broken it into four areas; first one, rebuilt write-offs, second old cars, third rusty vehicles and fourth, vehicles that are priced low because they need a lot of work. So these are some of the areas where you need to tread with extreme caution.

Mark: Alright so rebuilt write-offs is the first category, what, what is a rebuilt write-off and why would I be, want to be cautious about them?

Bernie: So a rebuilt write-off is basically a vehicle that’s been damaged to the point where the insurance company has written the vehicle off, it’s basically not repairable but that doesn’t mean it isn’t repairable, it’s just not economically repairable to say you crash your car, it cost $10,000 to fix the car, it’s worth say 9 or 10 thousand dollars. They decide, we’re not going to fix the car, we’re just gonna scrap it so that doesn’t mean it would cost $10,000 to go to the conventional body shop route but for somebody who would buy the car for cheap they might be able to get used parts, put the car together and make it work and then sell it and make some money but this is where you’ve got to be really cautious, you need to know what was the damage and who repaired it. I’ve seen some cars that have been so badly repaired it’s just, it’s, it’s scary and so you can save money by buying a rebuilt write-off but often the savings are not to be had at all. An example, I had a customer who bought a, it was only about a one year old Chevy Cavalier few years back paid about $4,000 less than the going rate for a year old cavalier, the car had been so badly repaired and the first clue was when we found 2 oxygen sensor wires had been plugged together the wrong way so it was very evident that whoever had worked on this car had no idea what they’re doing with cars. It had a transmission leak but long story short, by the time he was done getting the car back into reasonably good operating shape it cost him the same amount of money as it would cost to buy a good used cavalier. He’d bought that used cavalier he would have still had a couple years warranty on it because once your cars written off there’s no manufacturer’s warranty anymore and he would have been able, and he would not have had a car with a rebuilt title on it and who knows what else is really wrong with the car too, you just never know, so um, so that’s a good lesson to avoid. A happy story of a rebuilt write-off with a customer a while ago that a CX5 Mazda had dents all over the roof and hood and it was pretty evident when you looked at it, this thing was probably in a hail storm and it was dented everywhere and I talked with the customer about it, yeah we bought this thing, it was a rebuilt write-off from Alberta, it was pretty cheap and you know that’s probably a pretty good deal if you’re happy to live with a dented car you know and pay less money, mechanically it’s perfect so, that’s the thing about rebuilt write-offs. I’d just share something here if you’re wondering how you know the vehicle’s a write-off, of course you might want to ask the, ask the person you’re buying it from and they should tell you, is this showing Mark? Can you see this?

Mark: it’s up now

Bernie: OK, cool, ok so this is a copy of a British Columbia Insurance paper of a vehicle registration paper, you notice the red arrows I put in there, it says vehicle status but these vehicles are

Mark: we’re back to you Bernie

Bernie: Back to me, o.k., uh, let’s see what’s going on here. Let’s see if we can re share this thing because this is an important piece of information to know. All right, all right, let’s try this again. . do you see it?

Mark: Yup

Bernie: Good, o.k. so there is arrows pointing to a line that says Vehicle Status and right there if this is a rebuilt, if you’re buying a rebuilt vehicle there are the words rebuilt will be right in that area so that’s something to look for.

Mark: So what is that form?

Bernie: That is a registration, that’s a Vehicle Registration form in British Columbia, every car has one so I don’t know, other I mean other provinces and states have, have all have registration sheets, they should have something that mentions that because a rebuilt vehicle in Canada is the same as rebuilt vehicle in the United States, it’s all, it carries with the title and the serial number of the vehicle all the way no matter where you go with it so. The other downside of a write off vehicle as I may have mentioned, it’s always worth less money so if you buy a rebuilt write off for less money than say the going rate when you go to sell it you’re going to get less money too, of course when a car’s 15 years old is anyone going to care, maybe not but you really got to think about it. I personally just avoid buying a write off vehicle no matter what the price is.

Mark: So your 2nd category was old cars, how do you define old cars and why should we, they be approached with caution?

Bernie: So old cars and I mean these are, everyone has a different opinion of an old car because I meet people who have a four year old car go oh my car is getting old but to me a 4 year old is not an old car, it’s still practically brand new, I mean to me like after 10 years a car is starting to get old, more things go wrong and once you hit the 15 to 20 year range you, you’re really looking at the realm of old cars and the thing is when cars get older it’s harder to get parts, they become less mainstream, it’s harder to get new parts, hard to get used parts and more stuff goes wrong with the car so again you know, you can buy old cars for cheap but we see so often people they buy like an old, like an 1992 Mercedes and you know it’s a nice car but it’s old and things go wrong, they cost a lot to fix, um newer cars are also a lot easier to diagnose and repair than older ones are so I personally unless you really want an old car, like if it’s a classic that’s probably worth the money and it’s going to be your second car but if you’re looking for a daily driver, I’d avoid an old car, you’re just going to run into problems and you’re going to be our shop a lot more frequently than you probably want to be and probably be disgruntled about spending the money but you know, if it’s something you really want this car, you love it, it’s great and you’re willing again it’s always approaching with your eyes open knowing what you’re going to get into, knowing that you’re going to have more repairs and parts might be harder to find then it’s o.k. but personally I’d avoid it.

Mark: Alright, so next on your list was rusty cars, this seems pretty obvious but why should we avoid rusty cars?

Bernie: While rusty cars, I mean it’s like buying a, you know I hate say it but it’s like dating someone with cancer and you’re hoping for a long-term long life, you know, it’s not going to last but I mean rusty cars are, are safety comprised, again you’re probably going to get one for cheaper, again this goes into cheap car categories at least we hope but the repairs can be more expensive as well because things like brake lines rust out and just parts that don’t normally need to be fixed on a non rusty vehicle costs more money to fix so again you know, if you’re buying a used car I would avoid anything with you know, excess rust and especially if you’re in a collision, rust is you know, it weakens the vehicle so you could be hurt or severely.

Mark: So your last category is vehicles that need a lot of work, what do you mean by that?

Bernie: So, so sometimes you can come across a vehicle that’s you know, that this for sale at substantially below the market value and it’s because it needs some work. A really good example we had a while ago, I had a customer bought a Range Rover, it was about I don’t know, he paid about $15,000 for it when the going rate on these particular Range Rovers in good condition is about 25 so that’s a lot cheaper, you know, that’s 10 thousand bucks off, it’s a great deal but this vehicle looked like someone, I mean it’s kind of shocking for a luxury vehicle that someone would treat this thing like a piece of garbage, I mean the interior had like scratches and scrapes and there’s parts missing, it was, it was someone’s beater but I guess if you have, you know, if you make a million bucks a year you can afford to turn a Range Rover into a beater but this car it had like mechanical problems and had like the body had a few scratches and scrapes and long story short by the time we ended up fixing the vehicle back into decent running condition, he paid about, I think he paid about 7 or 8 thousand dollars in repairs so that put the vehicle from 15 up to about 23 thousand and the vehicle still esthetically needed some cleanup and work and some other mechanical items so really you got to be really very cautious when you buy these kind of things, to really do the math, to really look at it and go what am I actually going to be spending because honestly he would have probably been better off to find, to spend 25 thousand bucks on a nice Range Rover you know, that someone had taken good care of, I mean karmacally it also feels better when you buy a car where someone’s taken care of but again cars that need a lot of work usually end up not being worthwhile but you know again you got to do the math and whatever has a theme with all these stories is give us a call, call a mechanic you trust and say I’m looking to buy this vehicle, it’s a rebuilt write off, what do you think or this cars got a bit of rust, you know this car needs a bunch of work, do you think it’s worth it and you know run it by your professional and get an opinion, best way to save money and make sure sort of thing if an ounce of gold is say worth a thousand dollars and you can get it for 900 bucks, well that‘s a good deal but with a car you never know whether a used car is really worth, it’s hard to equate, there’s a lot of variables, where an ounce of gold is an ounce of gold.

Mark: So if you want some help with your gold purchases or your cars and you’re in Vancouver, give Bernie Pawlik a call at 604-327-7112, book your used vehicles in for a repair, maintenance or if you’re looking at buying something, if you need an inspection they’re experts at it, they’ve seen a lot in many, many years of doing this or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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