January 23, 2011

Car Talk

Buying a used car? Always get a second look first

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:

I love your show and column, and am a longtime listener and reader. After all these years, I finally have a question for you. I know you guys recommend having a used car inspected by a trusted mechanic prior to buying it. But what about buying one from a dealer? I'm considering the purchase of a 2008 Audi TT under one of those certified used car programs where the cars have low mileage and the dealer does a 123-point inspection. Do you think it's wise to have another mechanic check out the car first?
-- Barry

Ray: We do. Because it may be the 124th point that ends up costing you money later on.

Tom:: Buying a car that's part of a manufacturer's certified pre-owned program definitely increases your chances of getting a nice used car. Presumably, they screen for mileage, accidents and major problems. And that's all great.

Ray: But even if they do a thorough screening, the dealer's primary interest is in selling you the car and getting the maximum possible price for it. In our opinion, it's good to have someone who is entirely on your side in this transaction. That would be a mechanic YOU hire to inspect the car and report to YOU about what he finds.

Tom:: Even if he doesn't find evidence of an accident or a major mechanical problem, your own mechanic often can give you some items to negotiate over. For instance, he may tell you that the tires are fine, but they're only good for another 10,000 miles. In that case, maybe you can get the dealer to throw in a new set of tires.

Ray: If your mechanic tells you that the brake discs are starting to warp, you can ask the dealer to replace those before you buy the car, rather than coming back in six months and paying for them yourself.

Tom:: And even if your mechanic finds nothing wrong, and says, "This is the finest 2008 Audi TT I've ever seen in my life," you'll be able to make the purchase with peace of mind, knowing that the car is exactly as represented when you drive off the dealer lot.

Ray: And when you're spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car, we think $100, even if it's only for peace of mind, is always money well spent. Enjoy your TT, Barry.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)

Advertising

Partner video

Advertising