Auto Repair Help
Carl’s Corner – Auto Repair Help

By Carl O’Reilly

Since a private party has no overhead, you can expect the best price on a used vehicle as opposed to buying from a used car dealer (which of course does have overhead). Further, you’ll be able to meet the owner of the vehicle and gain some insight into how the vehicle may have been cared for. Always ask the owner for any and all service records pertaining to the vehicle. If he says he doesn’t have any, this is generally reflective of someone who has abused the vehicle by not performing regularly scheduled maintenance. In this case, it is best to move on to the next prospect.

Watch out for bandits! A few shady types will pose as private sellers but are really dealers without a license. These “weekend dealers” usually buy from auctions or other private parties and turn around and sell for profit. Ok, fine, there is nothing wrong with somebody trying to make a few bucks off buying and selling cars. However, when dealing with one of these types, you are not dealing with the owner of the vehicle and this is a big disadvantage. Further, these people are pros at adding a few inexpensive cosmetic corrections to make a certain vehicle look like more than it’s worth and finally, they may even be rolling back the odometer on each of the bargains they pick up. To protect yourself, always check the issue date of the vehicle’s title. If it’s recent, the seller could likely be a weekend dealer.

Classified advertisements found in newspapers and various car shopper publications usually involve one or more of the following abbreviations/wordings. Briefly study the list below in order to better understand used car ads.

A/C or air – air conditioning
All opts. – vehicle has all factory options
AT or auto – automatic transmission
Cherry – perfect condition
Clean – usually a well kept vehicle in good shape
Ext. warr. – extended warranty
Fac. – factory installed accessory
Fac. warr. – factory warranty; check if it’s transferable
Firm – listed price is not open to negotiation
Full pwr. – has all common power accessories
Gar. kept – always garaged
Gd. trans. – good transportation; means it looks bad but runs strong
Loaded – vehicle has all or nearly all options
Looker – usually means vehicle has had extensive customization
Lo. mi. – low mileage
Mechanic’s dream – a real fixer; in terrible shape
Mint – perfect condition; super low mileage
Must see to appreciate – usually means a good, very clean vehicle
Needs work – looks and/or runs poorly
New Paint – was the paint job only to mask dings and small dents?
Nice – a vehicle that looks fairly good
No rust – great, but make sure you check the underside thoroughly
Non-smkr. – driver did not smoke in vehicle
OBO – or best offer; owner is very motivated to sell
One owner – this is what you want; ask for all service records
Orig. own. – original owner; ask for all service records
PB – power brakes
PDL – power door locks
PL – power locks
Private – private party
PS – power steering
Rblt. – rebuilt engine or transmission
Runs good – definitely does not look too good
Tilt – has tilt steering column
25K – the mileage; in this example – 25,000 miles

When buying a vehicle from a private party you’ll be responsible for handling the title transfer, smog certification (if applicable), and re-registration. The person whom you are buying from should be the same as the person listed on the vehicle’s title. The vehicle should also of course have current registration under the sellers name. If you are unsure as to the correct procedure to follow when buying a vehicle from a private party, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicle’s office.

Once you buy a vehicle from a private party, it’s all yours, problems and all (if any), period! Therefore make sure you thoroughly check it out. Refer to the used vehicle topic for more information along these lines.




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