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Can a car be fixed up to temporarily appear reliable?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by alexssandro, Aug 21, 2002.

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  1. I'm looking to buy a used car. I'm considering a Sentra from an individual who's supposedly moving back to his country. I'd like to believe his story, but one suspicious thing is that the car is still under the dealer's name where he bought the car 4 months ago. He claimed he didn't change the ownership because he found out he was leaving the US just after he purchased the car. This, I suppose, is believable.

    Anyway, I took the car to a mechanic who I trust. The mechanic had advised me against buying 2 cars in the past. This time, he said that the Sentra's engine seems very good. There's either a clutch or transmission problem which is minor, but the engine seems pretty reliable.

    The paranoid, suspicious part of me questions whether or not a car could be fixed up by someone so that it appears to be in good condition, when in fact it's a disaster waiting to happen. Also, the fact that the guy just recently bought it from the dealer.... I've heard that it's better to buy a used car from a private party rather than from a dealer when you're talking cheap cars. (Asking price for the Sentra is $3750.) So, essentially, it would be like buying the car from a dealer. I have just enough cash for this car, and I need a car very urgently. I can't afford to buy a lemon though. Thanks for reading.
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    if you trust this mechanic, then follow what he suggests.
    kesslari likes this.
  3. That is very sound advice. The mechanic's word is really the only thing that's keeping me interested in the car. The other circumstances seem just a little bit shady, but the mechanic vouched for the engine.

    But that's why I was wondering if a car could be "disguised to look good" by a professional. I hate to come up with all these weird conspiracy theories, but I have to be as cautious as possible.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    There's still no guarantee that something won't go wrong, maybe even soon after you buy the car.

  5. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean to say that they aren't out to get you!

    If you're mechanic reckons it's good - and you trust his judgement go with it. If he's much cop, he'd be looking for the things that would give it away as 'covered up'.

    Sounds like you may be getting a bit of a bargain!
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Yes, a car can be screwed around with to seem better than it is. Is there really such thing as a "minor" clutch ortransmission problem? If you get a bad vibe from the seller I might move on.
  7. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida

    Yes, vibes can give it away. Feel just the tiniest bit uncomfortable about a purchase, just pass and find a new one. You've got feel totally confident that the person you're buying from is of a good heart and will tell the truth about whatever you're buying. And if you buy from someone that seems that way but is totally lieing to you, feel good that atleast you felt good when you bought it :p , but in the end you got screwed. So what, life goes on.

    Look elsewhere. This guy didn't do a good job lieing to you, so you picked up on it quick. Next....
  8. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    what year is this car? have you looked at the Bluebook value of it to figure out if you truly are getting a good deal? And I'm w/ the others... I'm a big believer that vibes, intuitions, and first impressions are big indicators. Especially if your vibes continue. For $3750, you can find something else that would serve you very well.
  9. Never mind the car engine or price, what about the ownership issue? The fact that the car is not under his name is a MAJOR issue in my opinion and I'd check with the dealer to make sure there are no outstanding issues. (GET IT IN WRITING).

    One of my ex-coworkers bought a car and decided not to do a lien check...turns out the car had a $10,000 lien. He ended up paying $5,000 to release the car, and only after a lawsuit.
    Rodent likes this.
  10. Thanks for the replies. It was a 96 Sentra with 96K miles. It's in accordance with the blue book. The mechanic is the one that told me that either something is wrong with the clutch or the transmission. Clutch problems would be about $400 to repair; transmission would be $800. I used the term "minor" because it wasn't like the engine had to be replaced or anything. The seller won't reduce the price to compensate for the problems, claiming that he already had an offer for $3500. (Asking price is $3750.) Considering he told me he advertised his car for 3 months, and he didn't mention any of this the day I met him (he told me over the phone today), I can't say I believe him. I would imagine that he'd jump on that offer if he had been waiting for so long. Plus the fact that the papers are still in the dealer's name and not his. The more I think about it, the more holes I'm seeing in this situation.

    So anyway, I found a potential Civic for sale. I'm going to take a look at it today and take it down to the mechanic. 96 Civic Hatchback, stick, 80K miles for $4500. In accordance with the blue book. Wish me luck!
  11. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Good luck, I'd rather buy the civic if I were you anyway.
    INTP likes this.
  12. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Sounds like a new clutch plate (maybe disc) and a gearbox overhaul is on the horizon. This and the fact that theres no proof he's the legal owner would make me stay away.
  13. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    get the civic!!! that's a smokin deal and hondas NEVER die.

    when you buy a car without a warranty, even if it checks out perfectly somethign could always break. so set aside some money to fix stuff just incase it does within the first month.
  14. Well, actually I wrote the guy a deposit because he needs the car till Friday. There are some dings by the door and other cosmetic stuff, but the mechanic said there were no mechanical defects. Sounded like music to my ears. :) On Friday I'm going to finalize the transaction. Got the car for $4300. I'm relieved to finally get a car. Thanks for your replies guys.
    OldDog52, yodedude2 and INTP like this.
  15. I bought a 1983 Commodore VK station wagon for $2000 from a dealer. It was in great nick, no dents, no rust mechanically ok....

    I had beaten the price down too so i had an extra $500 to spare which came in handy. Buying a car second or third hand always be prepared to pay for typical "crap car" problems. Within the first month i had had to replace the water pump and have the carby rebuilt. Its been runing fine for the past 2 years..... only now i need a transmission service (cause its clunking) and it wont start in the mornings.

    But that is my fault, i cant really afford to maintain it. But its still a great car. ;)


    And that was bought on a "vibe" too.
  16. Congrats on the Civic man, that would have been the way I'd go too. But to answer your original question, in case you're still interested, yes a car can be rigged to look ok, but any mechanic worht their salt should be able to see right through it. A third party mechanic that you are paying will be one of the last people to rip you off in a deal. but once the seller told me he couldn't provide proof of legal ownership, I would have been ion my merry friggin way.

    In other news, I might be getting a car tomorrow as well!

    My wifes friend is in need of money, and I'm in need of a nifty little car, so she talked him into selling me his 76 Firebird for $550! I'm pretty stoked about it. Keep you guys informed.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
  18. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Congrats on the Civic. With 80k on the clock, Id give some thought to having the timing belt replaced. Its cheap insurance, and Honda recommends it between 80 and 90k. Talk to your mechanic.
  19. bolophonic

    bolophonic Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    So how is the 96' Civic that was purchased in 2002 holding up?
  20. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    Might wanna message him and hope his account sends him an email when he gets messages. He hasn't been online since 2010.

    Hope that ride is still running smooth.

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