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    Thread: Example of how useless Carfax and used car dealers are

    1. Member 2000JettaGLXVR6's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:12 PM #1
      You may recall I purchased a B6 S4 a few months ago — long story short, it burned over 9 quarts of oil in 3,000 miles and ended up having a bad engine, so BMW of San Diego purchased it back from me minus $1,000 in expenses. I was curious what they did with the car, so I pulled up the Carfax to see. They ended up selling it at auction...



      Not to worry says the Car Fox: "Millions of used vehicles are bought and sold at auction every year."

      So I google the VIN and find that the car was now at some shady used car lot (it's been sold too, this is from Google Cache)...



      "Mint condition Runs and looks great RECARO seats Must see it hard to find model Call before its sold!!!!!!"

      Carfax: Useless
      Used Car Dealers: Shady

      Here's the VIN in case the new owner stumbles upon this page: WAUPL68E44A220313
      Last edited by 2000JettaGLXVR6; 10-28-2012 at 03:03 PM.

    2. Member markus037's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:23 PM #2
      not all used car places are shady but you can tell if they are good or bad just by the ad and what other types of cars they have on the lot as well as where the lot is located.


      but i hate carfax as well. i bought my car and had accident history on it but I inspected it myself before buying and nothing ever looked like it was ever involved in an accident, no frame damage, overspray or mis-aligned panels but the PO had the front bumper replaced and I guess turned it into his insurance. For all I know he could have had a cracked bumper and just had his insurance pay for it.

      needless to say i think these car dealers should stop worrying about carfax so much and actually look at the physical and mechanical condition of the cars they sell.

    3. Member a2a4raddo's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:28 PM #3
      Its not just the dealer, but the customer as well. Just about everyone who looks at a used car on a dealers lot asks for a car fax nowadays. If the carfax is dirty, makes it harder to sell the car and also devalues it as a retail piece as well as a trade in.

      Carfax is not 100 percent. The car you bought had a dirty carfax but no signs of damage. On the flip side, my buddy's car has had a fender and hood replaced and half the car has been repainted, car fax is clean however.

      I always ask to see both a carfax as well as an auto check. But I still go over the entire car as well.

    4. Member nm+'s Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:35 PM #4
      This is why people should always get a PPI with a leakdown on used cars.
      That said, if you posted the vin in plain text it would become googleable.

      Also, short ownership periods like that should raise a massive red flag. You ca also report to carfax yourself.
      Last edited by nm+; 10-27-2012 at 04:38 PM.
      Quote Originally Posted by Ducky TSX
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    5. Member markus037's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:36 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by a2a4raddo View Post
      Its not just the dealer, but the customer as well. Just about everyone who looks at a used car on a dealers lot asks for a car fax nowadays. If the carfax is dirty, makes it harder to sell the car and also devalues it as a retail piece as well as a trade in.

      Carfax is not 100 percent. The car you bought had a dirty carfax but no signs of damage. On the flip side, my buddy's car has had a fender and hood replaced and half the car has been repainted, car fax is clean however.

      I always ask to see both a carfax as well as an auto check. But I still go over the entire car as well.
      totally agree. i always go over any car im interested inside and out. you can usually tell if the car has been maintained just by looking at it.

      i went to look at a 330i ZHP a few weeks back that was located on some used car lot that was a total POS.The drivers window didnt work properly, coolant light on, bubble on right rear tire, dents and scratches all over it and the rear seat looked like a dog had ran back and forth on it quite often and the kicker was the kidney grille fell out after closing the hood. After pointing the defects out to the salesman he acted like i insulted him and just said "well if its not the car for you then it isnt the car for you" he was then going to have his "mechanic" look at it.

    6. 10-27-2012 04:38 PM #6
      Hell with Carfax, autocheck and the like. If I know a car has been to auction, I'll generally avoid it. There are not a lot of good reasons for a car to end up at an auction, and the invariable loss of documentation and accessories keeps my money away even if one might be good.
      call it potatography

    7. Member nm+'s Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:39 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by turbo_nine View Post
      Hell with Carfax, autocheck and the like. If I know a car has been to auction, I'll generally avoid it. There are not a lot of good reasons for a car to end up at an auction, and the invariable loss of documentation and accessories keeps my money away even if one might be good.
      How the hell do you find a modern used car that isn't sold private party that wasn't an auction vehicle at one time?
      Quote Originally Posted by Ducky TSX
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    8. 10-27-2012 04:47 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      How the hell do you find a modern used car that isn't sold private party that wasn't an auction vehicle at one time?
      You answered your own question.
      call it potatography

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      10-27-2012 04:49 PM #9
      Carfax only works if the previous owners care enough to update it frequently and accurately.

      ITT: people think Carfax is updated religiously

    10. Member nm+'s Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:52 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by turbo_nine View Post
      You answered your own question.
      I guess if you limit yourself to 1 owner private party vehicles, that is possible.

      My car is an auction car and came with all the receipts.
      Quote Originally Posted by Ducky TSX
      The Car Lounge likes to compare apples to llamas

    11. Member oh noes! cars!'s Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:54 PM #11
      Also why is it shady if another dealer buys it from auction and the BMW dealer auctions an old Audi they fixed? (they did fix it, no?) It's just one of a billion used auto transactions that happen daily it's not like the new dealer read your thread and said "**** it we'll take a chance"...

      Ignorance is bliss
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    12. 10-27-2012 04:56 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by C4 A6 View Post
      Carfax only works if the previous owners care enough to update it frequently and accurately.

      ITT: people think Carfax is updated religiously
      ITT: People beginning to realize that Carfax is filled with false negatives.
      call it potatography

    13. Member nm+'s Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:56 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by oh noes! cars! View Post
      Also why is it shady if another dealer buys it from auction and the BMW dealer auctions an old Audi they fixed? (they did fix it, no?)
      I think the implication is that they didn't fix it.
      Quote Originally Posted by Ducky TSX
      The Car Lounge likes to compare apples to llamas

    14. 10-27-2012 04:57 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      My car is an auction car and came with all the receipts.
      That's terribly unusual, but it would reassure me enough to make the same purchase.
      call it potatography

    15. Member dopaz's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 04:57 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by markus037 View Post
      needless to say i think these car dealers should stop worrying about carfax so much and actually look at the physical and mechanical condition of the cars they sell.
      Quote Originally Posted by a2a4raddo View Post
      Its not just the dealer, but the customer as well. Just about everyone who looks at a used car on a dealers lot asks for a car fax nowadays.
      This is the problem. CarFax has done an excellent job with their marketing. They blasted consumers with the cute "Car Fox" b.s. and now car shoppers *demand* a CarFax. Dealers are now pretty much forced to provide this information due to customer demand, and in turn must pay CarFax a fee for doing so. This happens despite the fact that a clean CarFax report does not guarantee a clean vehicle, *and* a dirty CarFax report does not guarantee a problematic vehicle. For me, these facts make the report damn near useless.

      Quote Originally Posted by a2a4raddo View Post
      Carfax is not 100 percent. The car you bought had a dirty carfax but no signs of damage. On the flip side, my buddy's car has had a fender and hood replaced and half the car has been repainted, car fax is clean however. I always ask to see both a carfax as well as an auto check. But I still go over the entire car as well.
      So, you recognize that the data on a CarFax report cannot be trusted, yet you demand it anyways?

      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      This is why people should always get a PPI with a leakdown on used cars.
      Good advice. If you cannot thoroughly evaluate a vehicle on your own, find a trusted 3rd party to inspect it prior to purchase. You certainly can't rely on the selling party to provide impartial, accurate, and unbiased information about a vehicle they must sell to remain in business. CarFax is not the proper 3rd party to rely on either, tracking paperwork changes on titles and "Were there any insurance claims (Yes / No)" is such an incomplete assessment of a vehicle that it is almost completely worthless.

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      10-27-2012 04:59 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by dopaz View Post
      So, you recognize that the data on a CarFax report cannot be trusted, yet you demand it anyways?
      Accuracy all depends on the owner who is updating it. Sure, there are scumbags who will lie, but more often than not the carfax is pretty accurate.

    17. 10-27-2012 05:00 PM #17
      Would carfax have even had any report on it ? No accident's, documentation of reg and some title changes what else should it say though ? Have you ever seen it say something like burns oil? smells like cigarettes or burrito farts ? Carfax seems to now have a ton more detail regarding dealer services wheres before it was very basic.

      I looked at a 2006 Wrangler Rubicon in stunning condition earlier this year. The dealers autocheck report mentioned "vehicle serviced" at on point in its life. I ran carfax just for s&g's and just as I had my heart set on it and was about to sign. I noticed that carfax found that it had failed it's first smogcheck before it was tranferred from their other dealership. I walked away sadly... but I didn't want a vehicle that had issues.

    18. Geriatric Member VDub2625's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 05:01 PM #18
      I'm confused what the problem was? it had a broken engine, like millions of used cars have broken parts, it was sold back to the dealer and then at auction... who's to say someone didn't fix it? or that any one out there could buy a used car with broken parts? not all service records get entered.

      Was the car in an accident? No? Seems like Carfax did it's job (yes, I know there are ways of getting around that as well). it doesn't promise to inspect the car and that runs and drives just fine for you. That's up to a new buyer to do an inspection.

      CarFax is the kind of service that, if it comes up positive for a bad history, you know it has a bad history, but negative doesn't mean clean. It's a tool, not an end-all that most people seem to think it is.
      Last edited by VDub2625; 10-27-2012 at 05:04 PM.
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    19. Member tharsis's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 05:01 PM #19
      There are a lot of decent cars sold at auction. Just because a car went to auction doesn't mean its ****ed up. Generally used cars have to float around somewhere, they don't just sit hundreds of used cars on each dealer lot every year...

      That being said, you can generally tell how well a car has been taken care of if you give it a good once over and consider the wear and tear vs whats expected for a car of that age and mileage

    20. 10-27-2012 05:04 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by C4 A6 View Post
      Accuracy all depends on the owner who is updating it. Sure, there are scumbags who will lie, but more often than not the carfax is pretty accurate.
      When the owner is the Insurance Company and they have no incentive to report because they're the ones who bought the car (as a collision, for instance) and are sending the car to auction to recoup their loss...

      Well, you can see how Carfax might be left out of the loop.
      call it potatography

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      10-27-2012 05:06 PM #21
      Carfax is useless indeed.
      Best thing to do is to get the body checked out by a reputable bodyshop,
      saying in writing that there are or arent any accidents on the car !

      If an accident is not reported, no Carfax will know !

    22. Member dopaz's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 05:17 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by C4 A6 View Post
      Accuracy all depends on the owner who is updating it. Sure, there are scumbags who will lie, but more often than not the carfax is pretty accurate.
      As a car owner, why would I report anything at all to CarFax? If I accurately report that there were problems, I've just shot myself in the foot and devalued the vehicle. If I report maintenance, etc I'm doing CarFax's work for them for no compensation. Why would I do that? Do you think a significant portion of car owners are performing this self-reporting?

      Quote Originally Posted by veedublvr View Post
      Carfax seems to now have a ton more detail regarding dealer services wheres before it was very basic.
      I once worked as a programmer for a dealership group. When our CarFax contract (we had an unlimited CarFax account and run reports on potential trade-ins and all retail used vehicles) came up for renewal CarFax forced us to begin sending all of our vehicle service records to them, or they would not renew our contract. The data they demanded basically consisted of VIN, Mileage, and Work Performed... for every car that went through any of the service departments under our corporate umbrella. Now that dealership still has to pad the price all of its used vehicles with the "CarFax tax" (that cost is going right to the consumer), and also share all of the service department business data with CarFax.

      The actions of CarFax primarily benefit CarFax. Their service is not very useful due to the gaping holes in the data, but through marketing they have car shoppers convinced it is a necessity. When you demand a CarFax you are increasing the cost of the used vehicle you are trying to buy without really knowing much more about it.

    23. Member a2a4raddo's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 05:48 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by dopaz View Post



      So, you recognize that the data on a CarFax report cannot be trusted, yet you demand it anyways? .
      Absolutely. Carfax data will tell me how many owner the vehicle has had, where it spent most of its life (florida car or New England car, etc). These are things I can use with carfax. But It is not 100 percent in that the carfax could be clean, while the vehicles has been involved in two accidents. Which is why I will look over the vehicle myself, as well as ask for a carfax and an autocheck. An accident that pops up on autocheck may not be on carfax and vice verse. I have seen this a few times. Lastly, if the carfax report comes back with 3 accidents on file, I don't want to purchase the car regardless of how clean it is.....even if there is zero paint work. That just tells me the trade in value will be crap and selling it privately will be difficult.

      So yes, I do recognize that carfax reports cannot be trusted 100 percent. They are just a guide. And yes, I demand both the carfax as well as the autocheck anyway.

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      10-27-2012 06:02 PM #24
      I recently traded in a Mark IV Jetta and took a look at the CarFax once the dealer put it up on AutoTrader. I had been rear-ended pretty badly a few years ago - The total damage was about $6000 and it took about 4 weeks to fix. In the CarFax, it said "vehicle serviced" and was reported as accident free.

      What needs to happen for it to make it to CarFax? There was a police report, insurance claim, etc.

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      10-27-2012 06:05 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by 2000JettaGLXVR6 View Post
      You may recall I purchased a B6 S4 a few months ago — long story short, it burned over 9 quarts of oil in 3,000 miles and ended up having a bad engine, so BMW of San Diego purchased it back from me minus $1,000 in expenses. I was curious what they did with the car, so I pulled up the Carfax to see. They ended up selling it at auction...
      I hope you learned your lesson.

    26. 10-27-2012 06:32 PM #26
      Another risk I noticed with carfax was if the car was in an accident, the car could still be sold as if it wasn't in an accident and not found out until say the car is traded in again, happened with my friend with an Eos, she bought it originally at a vw dealership with a clear carfax and come this year she had found out it was in an accident that wasn't in the original report. Good thing the dealer that took the car in kept their word on the trade in value despite what the carfax said and probably took it at a loss.

      I bought my car with an "accident" in the carfax, it has the impact described in it, it really didn't hold me back, honestly it sounds more like the bumper was just replaced and reported under carfax, what impacted my decision to just buy the car was, even after the accident the car was still maintained 6 years after the accident, and major service items like timing belt, etc were addressed prior to my buying it. B/c of that accident history, I probably won't be selling the car and when I am ready to give it up, I'll just give it to a family member instead.
      Last edited by Aw614; 10-27-2012 at 06:35 PM.

    27. Member Kar98's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 06:39 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by markus037 View Post
      not all used car places are shady...
      Stop right there.

    28. Member 2000JettaGLXVR6's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 07:28 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by VDub2625 View Post
      I'm confused what the problem was? it had a broken engine, like millions of used cars have broken parts, it was sold back to the dealer and then at auction... who's to say someone didn't fix it? or that any one out there could buy a used car with broken parts? not all service records get entered.

      Was the car in an accident? No? Seems like Carfax did it's job (yes, I know there are ways of getting around that as well). it doesn't promise to inspect the car and that runs and drives just fine for you. That's up to a new buyer to do an inspection.

      CarFax is the kind of service that, if it comes up positive for a bad history, you know it has a bad history, but negative doesn't mean clean. It's a tool, not an end-all that most people seem to think it is.
      We're talking about at least a $5,000 repair, maybe $7,000-10,000. The car would be worthless if they fixed it. That has me convinced it was re-sold with the bad engine.

    29. Geriatric Member VDub2625's Avatar
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      10-27-2012 07:41 PM #29
      Brand new parts,s ure. But they could have swapped in a used engine, which isn't an automatically bad thing.
      A2Resource
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    30. 10-27-2012 11:41 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by 2000JettaGLXVR6 View Post
      We're talking about at least a $5,000 repair, maybe $7,000-10,000. The car would be worthless if they fixed it. That has me convinced it was re-sold with the bad engine.
      This is why I fear any 100k+ miles audi was reluctant to recommend this B7 A4 a buddy was looking at. Knobs missing, scratched up interior trim and clearcoat. A damn shaky rough idle like an old school diesel (maybe just a coil pack maybe something more). Made me think why wouldn't they fix these minor issues if they want to get more than 10k for this, I would give em 8k and not a penny more.
      http://www.caribbautos.com/detail.as...efID=137&.aspx


      Worn off typeface on the engine cover is this normal on the fsi engine?

      Last edited by Impeccable; 10-27-2012 at 11:48 PM.

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      10-28-2012 12:00 AM #31
      Carfax is also too naggy at times. My car was in a "collision" nah, no it wasn't. It had a front end re-spray through insurance.
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    32. Member TM87's Avatar
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      10-28-2012 12:45 AM #32
      My wifes Jetta was hit in a rear bumper, but that wont show on the carfax. it was only a bumper, so it easily replaced.
      My TT had a colission noted in the carfax. The PO showed me pics of the damage. Receipts of replacement w OEM parts etc.
      Carfax is not a Bible of cars. Take it w a grain of salt. Always double tripple check any used vehicle. If unsure, get a PPI. The $100-$150 extra is well worth it.
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    33. 10-28-2012 10:56 PM #33
      I am surprised how many misconceptions people have about carfax and used cars in general.

      IMO carfax is only a good reference point as to how many previous owners the car had, was it driven in a nice neighborhood, etc. It will not register every accident or other events. on the flip side even a very minor scuff at a parking lot might appear as an accident on the report. My wife's car when she was in school was in 4 accidents while she had it one of which caused major damage to the whole side of the car including the suspension. The car has clean carfax! I got a scuff about the size of my iphone on my bumper that buffed right out and the carfax registered it as an accident. Another car that I owned with a clean carfax and title later got a salvage carfax after I got it registered Thank god carfax fixed that one after I contacted them.
      More recently when I went to sell my wife's Saab there was not even a single service record on the report even though I had a stack of receipts from a local Saab dealership. Not all dealerships and service facilities report to carfax so even if a car was serviced meticulously the report might not tell you that.
      As somebody pointed out a good carfax does not guarantee a good car and vice versa. Carfax has consumers brainwashed and collects thousands of dollars every month from dealers for the right to run reports and show them to customers wo will not buy a car without a carfax.
      This is actually a pretty good system as far as making money goes.
      Also I will be very surprised if many car owners contact carfax to update any info(service or other)
      The majority of trade-ins at new car dealers go to the auction. That does not make these cars a POS. If you run a high end BMW dealership you will not retail an 02 Passat with a 100k on it even if it has full service history and is as clean as they come. Period. That car goes to the auction where the small guy buys it and it ends up in a used car lot. If that same dealer takes an 08 M3 on a trade and sends it to the auction...well that is a red flag and this probably is a problem car.

      All this being said there are lots of crap cars out there ad most people in the car business are dbags...

    34. Member markus037's Avatar
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      10-29-2012 02:33 PM #34
      i also love the "buy here, pay here" lots for idiots who have crap credit but want to buy a car they can never realistically maintain. those are the shady car lots i always laugh at. yes, you can own this 158k S-class for as little as $1500 down but this car is ready to fall apart and needs $10k worth of repairs to be considered "mint"

      i had a customer come in a few weeks ago who bought a used XJ8 off one of those lots and had a power steering leak and brought it to us because it had one of those BS aftermarket warranties. long story short it needed a power steering rack which had cost him over $4800. the part was $4200 alone brand new from jaguar. i guess he asked the car lot he bought it from to cover it but refused since it worked fine when he bought it.

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      10-29-2012 03:05 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by someguy123 View Post
      I hope you learned your lesson.
      I hope he didn't. I enjoy the living hell out of those threads.
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