Never, never, never, never buy a used car without a prepurchase inspection done by a mechanic, a shop or an inspection service that you trust. Don’t trust the car owner to tell you that it’s a good car. Don’t trust a car lot or dealership to tell you that they’ve had it inspected. Don’t trust a car lot when they tell you the car’s fine and it comes with a warranty. Don’t trust just road testing the car yourself. There are simply too many items on a vehicle that can escape detection without a thorough lookover.
In my 30 plus years of servicing cars I’ve seen so many heartbreaks, disappointments and flat-out wastes of money. I recently had a conversation with a man looking for a price quote on a list of items for a 2003 Subaru Forester. The vehicle had about 250,000 kilometers on it and had a list of serious concerns found from a recent dealer inspection. The list included: replace cylinder head gaskets, front differential noisy (requiring a transmission rebuild or replacement), front end clunks, rear sway bar bushings worn, a front CV boot cracked and a steering rack boot cracked. I quickly guestimated the work to be at least $6000, but most likely more. This amount of work certainly exceeded the value of the car.
What was most upsetting to me was that upon further questioning I found that he had bought this vehicle 5000 kilometers ago for $5800 dollars. It was now essentially a piece of junk! What a shame! Undoubtedly a good prepurchase inspection would have caught many of these concerns. Then a proper price could have been negotiated for this vehicle or perhaps better yet, he could have just walked away and found a better one.
So the lesson here is: don’t go it alone, get a prepurchase inspection from a trusted shop or mechanic. It will give you piece of mind and save you money, possibly big money.