Cars in Bulk

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Imagine this scene…

A salesman in a plaid suit wearing a giant cowboy hat and smile he stole from a shark, stands before his many toys; all of them have one careful owner, not scratch or ding on them…at least not on the outside. A client approaches to look over the stock and suddenly from nowhere, orders two thousand of them.

 

Welcome to world of buying cars in bulk. Okay, it doesn’t happen like that. An independent used car-slinger doesn’t deal in bulk, as far as we know of. Although many new car lots have a fleet representative that takes over if a buyer wants between two and 20 cars, fleet buying and bulk-buying-are nor the same thing.

But the military, taxi cab firms, other car hire firms, the police and so on have to deal with the idea of buying more of the same car at once.

It goes back longer than you might think. Oshkosh Corporation for instance delivers specialty vehicles, mostly trucks, for access, fire, emergency or military and has been in business for a hundred years.

One recent purchase was for 6,107 light tactical vehicles for the US army – mobile command centers-for which the bill came to a cool 1.69 billion. For that price the vehicles need to be fully operational and well serviced, though having said that army vehicles do have a reputation of breaking down, maybe it’s due to attempting to squeeze the price?

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When you’re talking about emergency vehicles you also need something extremely reliable. Increasingly, these deals go to an electric motor vehicle rather than gas or diesel. Although it is a bulk buy as such there needs to be a customized design to start from.

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They may look the same to an outsider, but something as straight forward as a fire truck varies greatly from one state to another, based on their needs.

When it comes to purchasing taxis what do you go for? Ride-share vehicles are privately owned so each one is unique, but when trying to maintain a fleet of corporately owned taxi s it’s best to have all the same car. Uniformity of vehicle profile helps reinforce the brand just like the paint jobs does, but as an added bonus your mechanic can order parts in bulk as well. Every car is purchased outright, except for special circumstances when cars are leased. The contracts on leased taxis are detailed because of the wear and tear inflicted, and the high mileage added. It’s hard to imagine not going to be out of pocket leasing.

automotive-1250546_1920Another person who might buy cars in bulk is that salesman referred to above. Sure cars come in on trade, and many are purchase at auction, but when an independent car dealer finds another dealership liquidating inventory they may buy sever dozen at a time, sight unseen.

Dealerships who offer new vehicles do so by negotiating a bulk rate even though the cars arrive in batches across the year.

This can really help the salesman because if a customer is looking for one specific type of your brand of car they can order one through you and you still make a commission.

These dealers are also less likely to get stuck with hundreds of cars they cannot get rid of…however, they need to be pretty savvy to avoid low or high inventory. Too few cars on hand and you don’t close as many deals. Too many cars on hand and you run into a host of problems including tax issues.

What considerations do you need in order to make a purchase (or should I say several purchases?) this way? In some ways buying a car wholesale is similar to buying cars retail. You want the full service history. You want the papers to be in order. So you can put the car on your lot, and ideally, sell it. It’s that simple.

 

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Facebook – A Driver and Car Seller’s Guide

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Some people believe the relationship between internet technology and the car is simply that the internet has reduced the need for personal car ownership. However, this doesn’t take into account how the internet and social media can be used to sell cars, or to help car enthusiasts to connect with each other.

Selling on the Internet

Many traditional local car magazines have gone online also, which is cheaper than print but increases the pool of competitors greatly. Take for example autotrader.com which was a series of local papers is now competing with the likes of auto.com or even generalized online shopping sites like craigslist.org. eBay actually bridged the gap between it’s general site and the specific needs of the auto industry 10 years ago with it’s eBay Motors.

Many dealerships are putting their entire inventory online and then using social media simply as a tool to draw shoppers there. Social media excels at building and reinforcing brand identity and loyalty so it’s a good chance for dealerships to try to overcome the bad reputation often associated with that class of business.

Selling on Social Media

Selling on Facebook is not the first port of call for something as important as a car. As with selling any product or service on Facebook it helps to grow your potential market, it also makes answering potential questions from your clients a breeze. As a bonus, your communication will automatically be cell phone friendly.

Advertising on Facebook is easy and so far very affordable compared to other forms of marketing. Facebook even has a special person who can list your cars for you, although this is probably not available to the non-dealership seller. Although Facebook is connected in a business sense to Instagram there is as yet no specific way to use Instagram for your dealership. Maybe this will change in future years?

There are many warnings about scams on Facebook, not unlike most marketplaces these days. The general advice is to pay cash for every transaction and never go to a place alone, especially if you believe yourself to be particularly vulnerable. Tell someone where you’re going in any case. Never pay for a car you have not seen.

 

Facebook and Cars (not selling)

Other people may use Facebook just to post blogs rather than sell cars, such as Auto.com. There are pages for specific types of car where you might choose to chat about what is good and what is bad about your specific vehicle. The most popular in terms of likes is both Mercedes Benz and BMW with 20 million likes.

This savvy use of Facebook builds goodwill with potential customers and creates that community effect. Essentially, they leverage Facebook for what it’s good at and keep their sales to themselves.

For those who aren’t car sellers, we can still use Facebook to look at other car related items. A search for “satnav” for example will bring up satnavs being sold in Facebook Marketplace, threads about satnavs from your history and articles posted about satnavs on Facebook.

If you go the Facebook Groups category you can find hundreds of satnav related groups you might like to join up to. As with anything, the more you put into Facebook the more it is possible to get out of it. Alternatively, you might like to look up Facebook Videos to see satnavs in use, though it seems rather similar to YouTube.

Looking for something like kit cars might be more troublesome, as you obtain details for how to make toy cars from kits, emergency car kits, Bluetooth kits for cars and so on. “Kit car” works better and make works better still, say something like “Lomax kit car.” As with anything you need to experiment in order to get the best result.

This has just been a short introduction; there should be a number of features you can take advantage of on Facebook for your car buying and car selling needs. It’s an active market and there is plenty of useful stuff out there.

Best of the Web: 50 Cars that Last

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Link to Original Story

There seem to be two theories in car ownership:
1. Buy a new car every two or three years to take advantage of the advanced reliability or
2. Pick up a low mileage used car and drive it until it dies–let someone else eat the depreciation.

If you follow theory number 2 (and most of us do) then you’ll want a car with a reputation for longevity.

Here’s what Interesticle has identified as the top cars to run over 250,000 miles.

1.) Subaru Forester
2) VW Passat
3) Lexus RX350 (450HP)
4) Honda CRV
5) Lexus ES 350/450
6) Toyota Camry Toyota 4 runner
7) Lincoln Town Car
8) Nissan Titan XD
9) Chevy Silverado
10) Honda Odessey

11) Acura RDX, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Corolla etc.

The list is long but helpful.

Age and the Car

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett & A. Bunch

It does seem a shame that the moment you can afford a car, that car is out of bounds. Either the car is too big, or too sporty, or too showy, or some other reason society comes up with to disapprove of your choice. It’s the way of the world.

 

automobile-1853936_1920When you first get your license…

Previous generations just wanted a car. It represented freedom to explore the world and also not needing to borrow the family van to take your date out for pizza. Or worse, having a parent chauffer you to and from your date. If you bought your first car yourself, chances are was pretty scary and nearing the end of its life. If you’re one of the lucky few whose parents bought you a car then we recommend keeping your mouth shut. Especially if it’s something sporty, (you should know your peers hate you).

However you got your ride, just drive your chick/dude magnet up to school and remember that all that adoration won’t put gas in your tank. Better ask your date to pay for the pizza.

These days, teens seem to prefer mass transit or rideshare. They see cars as an extra expense, (and well it is, but come on) and since teens are not allowed to have jobs the only teens who get cars are those whose parents bought it for them.

 

auto-2179220_1920At the quarter life-life crisis…

This may be in the middle of your twenties. It’s when you realize every day you wake up you’re closer to 30 than 20. There’re three schools of thought here:

1) If you can pull it off, this is the time to get the car of the dreams. It doesn’t have to be practical when you’re established in your early career and splitting rent with friends. Well, work with your budget that’s the only solution. If you can’t get something like the Ford Mustang, go with a car slightly more reasonable option. Having said that the Mustang is better on the old finances than a Beamer…

2) This is the time when you can really impact your financial future. Buy something reliable, fuel economical, eight to ten years old with a reputation for living a long time. Pay it off in four years and make that car last for a decade.

asia-2179107_19203) Go for something strange in car, truck, or motorcycle. If you dance to the beat of your own drum, well go ahead and buy that surplus meter-reader mobile that get 60 miles to the gallon and has just enough cargo space for a bag of groceries. Maybe buy that scary van from the guy down by the river so you have a place to crash if you lose your apartment. If all else fails you can buy something practical in five years when you hit your next life milestone.

When you get married…

There must be an unwritten law that you must buy an SUV. You need something with a third row of seating and you just can’t make yourself go “full minivan.” You’re not really fooling anyone. It’s just today’s equivalent of the station wagon. Unless…you go for it and get something that actually can go off-road if needed…maybe a jeep grand Cherokee, Toyota FJ, or an H2. Another option might be a crossover. Something like the Grandland X SUV which combines both agility with brilliant design. And it’s useful even if you aren’t on the school run. What you have to watch for here is gas mileage. Some of these guzzlers drink a gallon every ten miles.

In all seriousness, think about a car that can get your kids to soccer now and that you don’t mind loaning them in a few short years. Unless you’re one of those mean parents who insist on driving your teens to pizza. (Assuming they still eat pizza when our kids are teenagers.)

 

ford-63930_1920The mid-life crisis…

This is when the temptation sets in to buy something sporty and impractical, but it’s really not worth it. I get it, your kids have left home and you want a car to relax in. If you can avoid it don’t buy either the luxury car of your dreams and the street racer. You’ll save money and avoid looking ridiculous. Kids have an annoying habit of moving home. You may not be as financially free as you think you are, and you sure don’t want to loan them either kind of car.

That Ferrari won’t hide your belly fat anyway, and the BMW won’t make your hair grow back. On the other hand, if you’re going in for a regular prostate exam, you probably deserve a comfortable ride…maybe a Mercedes is just what the Doctor ordered. You certainly deserve it.

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When its time to retire…

Well, we would never tell you to wait until you retire to live your dreams. BUT in our highly unprofessional opinion, it’s finally time to be impractical. Go ahead and buy the car of your dreams. You know the one teenage you couldn’t afford because your parents wouldn’t buy it for you. Sure it’s now called a classic car but just ignore all that. The point is, it’s yours and you don’t care what anybody thinks. Enjoy it. At least until one of your kids decides you need to be chauffeured.

 

How New Are The New Years Features?

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Ever notice that every year we get a new model of the same line each automaker made the year before? Well, it’s not a coincidence. When car designers and marketers collaborate to create the new models of car for sale they often start with the features in the last model to see what might be incorporated in a new design.

Why Not Start From Scratch?

While an automaker may decide they have identified a market segment they haven’t yet exploited which requires a whole new model of car, there’s a reason you generally just get a new year’s version of last year’s model. The reason is they’ve sunk a lot of money into establishing that model, creating name/style recognition and reputation, for that model and a certain number of people will buy it simply because they’re looking to replace their old version of that same vehicle.

20180725_111838It’s a big decision to discontinue a model line and it’s not always replaced with a new model in that category. Sometimes it signals a retreat from that category entirely. One example would be when, in 2008, Ford announced that they would no longer continue to produce minivans for sale in the US market. The Aerostar line seemed plagued with reliability issues and sales were lukewarm compared to competitors. Ford needed to start from scratch and that included letting the consumer forget the bad taste in their mouths around the failed minivan.

Then in 2010, Ford returned to the minivan market with their Transit Connect Eurostyle model of delivery van. Given the trend of a family vehicle from Station Wagon to Minivan to SUV, the gamble y Ford to return to minivans seemed a bit crazy. But their strategy included manufacturing the vans as cargo vehicles outside the US and then importing them to be retrofitted as passenger vehicles domestically. This lets them tip their toes back into the minivan market without a full-blown commitment. It also gave them a way to introduce a vehicle that looked so different from it’s predecessor that it didn’t bring the failed Aerostar back to mind. The gamble seems to have paid off.

The Goal is Reinvention:

Selling a car is a strange type of alchemy, as with anything else, it’s impossible to know whether a new style of car or even a new brand will sell. Usually, it’s safer to simply update and add features while staying within the same price point and target market.

car-2220039_1920There’s always something that can be tweaked, for instance, color. Can we upgrade the suspension and add a roof rack and call it a sports package? Silver is currently the most popular color for cars, but that changes decade by decade. It’s quite tricky to know when tastes in car color will change.

However, the most frequent type of big change is to reinvent the existing line. When creating a new car it’s all about the little improvements, can a two-door work as a four-door? Can a gas car work as a diesel, or maybe as a hybrid? The cars may have similarities to what has gone before, but the small differences make the car.

The First Thing to Look at is the Consumers Need:

Consumer need and desires will change over time. What sells now will not be what sells in a decade’s time, or even in five or six years. This is why new models need to be designed. Even bigger shifts occur though when the actual consumer make up changes.

In the 1980’s it was all about bigger audacious cars, perhaps because automakers were still targeting predominately the male, young-urban-professional. Even though women had been entering the workforce in droves the car industry still perceived that men made the car purchase decisions for families. Cars targeted at women were sporty for single women or second vehicles. This has now changed.

Nowadays, with mass transit, we aren’t so interested in people who live in the bigger cities, though we are still interested in those who work for the big companies. Fuel economy is a winning consideration regardless of gender but the primary family vehicle needs to appeal to women regardless of who actually ends up driving it. The second vehicle is often a truck which may still need to have room for four or five passengers.

In other words, the best sellers are going to be gender neutral small, easily parked cars, or big max passenger vehicles cars, but either way with the best gas mileage possible.

It’s Not All About Size:

The biggest changes may be on the inside. The general trend from year to year is making the car easier to operate. To make it interesting let’s go way back to the earliest Ford’s.

When Ford went from the Model “T” to the Model “A” the outside differences were mainly:

  1. The Model T has a straight line across the top of the radiator core; the A has a double curve dipping in the middle that looks somewhat like the top of a valentine heart.
  2. The vertical sides of the T radiator shell are perpendicular and parallel; those of the A slant outwards going down and are not parallel.
  3. The A has a gas cap in the middle of the cowl; the T has a rectangular vent door there.
  4. The A has smoother, rounder front fenders.
  5. The T headlights are painted; the A headlights are shiny metallic.
  6. The A usually has a black horn immediately below the left headlight.

And so one…pretty small stuff really.

ford-164406_1280On the inside, however, the car went from having a pedal for every gear including “reverse” and “reverse slow,” to having a transmission and stick shift. The ease of drive move didn’t reduce the cost to build the car, this was a direct result of the consumer base expanding when the car became easier to operate.

Of course, the 1927 “T” and the 1928 “A” were more alike than the 1928 “A” was to many of the later “Model A’s.” The Model “A” Ford had so many different styles that it wouldn’t be considered now one make of car. Some versions had two doors, some had four doors, some were a sedan (that is, had an obvious trunk area). Because the car had so many different functions (mail car, taxi cab, etc.) it wasn’t practical to make all the cars the same.

My How Things Change:

traffic-3404254_1920Compare those early models to the current successful model is eye-opening. The most popular car in 2018 was the Honda CR-V, which according to carandriver.com, is a compact car which uses some of the features of a hatchback. Described like that, it’s clear Honda’s not trying to break new ground when they could just give the American public what they like at the moment.

Although what is in vogue in car design changes all the time the Honda CR-V went on the market in 1997 so that’s a good deal of staying. It only really caught on in the American market in 2007, whereas people in Japan or the UK have begun looking for a different make of car. A car maker that can ride a successful design from one country to another without making a significant redesign is a company that’s making money hand over fist.

One Trend Above All:

How does the Honda CR-V and the Model A compare to drive? Well both need gas and oil and new tires once in a while. But the Model A has strange arrangements of levers and rods (such as the choke rod), as with all modern cars, with the Honda it’s mirror, signal, maneuver and then put the key in the ignition. So an automaker is never wrong to focus on easier driving in new year models.

Over ninety or so years many things have changed about a car but they are still about getting from point A to point B in relative comfort and quickly. What never changes is the need to new your customer.

The Car as a Commodity

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For many people, a car is not a means of transportation; it is a commodity. You may have pondered a vehicle as an investment, in recent years, instead of a loan being financed against your house, many people have used their car as collateral. But in order to think of it as a commodity you’d have to consider three things:

  • Is it an asset or a liability?
  • What’s its current value vs cost
  • What’s the likelihood of future appreciation or depreciation?

Asset or Liability?

We’re car people here at the Kicker, not certified financial advisors. So let’s take a moment to state the obvious—the purpose of this post is to get you thinking about the impact your car has on your finances and some smart moves you might choose to make regarding your car.

That said, every physical asset is also a liability. Vehicles are status symbols, toys, and a source of joy, but they’re primarily a tool you use to transport yourself and your loved one’s places you need to go. Often if you don’t have a car you can’t earn an income. So its an asset. It can also break down or you can get into an accident which could cost you a lot of money and leave you’re physically injured.

Current Value vs Cost?

This consideration includes getting a good deal on a car purchase, but it’s more than that. Fuel economy is a big thing to think about. Do you really need a truck for your daily driver or would it be better to get an old truck to drive mainly on weekends and a smaller daily driver?

Do you need a car at all? Sometimes in a city, with rideshare, bus lines, mass transit and all. You might be better off with a minimal investment for your occasional use. Maybe buy something older that you don’t rely heavily on so you aren’t stuck in a bad way if it breaks down occasionally.

Maybe your needs warrant buying new to get a low maintenance car, that’s safe and reliable.

Retained Value?

But do you need a brand new car or a classic car? What happens to the price of a used car?

Imagine that there is a brand new car, a used car about 5 years old and a classic car from the 1960s. For them to be the same price, the used car might be low mileage and luxury vehicle. A lot of the value of a new car is the warranties offered to the first owner. Sometimes special financing is available on a new vehicle. Maybe the brand new car isn’t popular and is discounted to make room for the next year model. Generally, a slightly used car will have a much better value for the price.

But what about the classic car? Of course, mileage, service history, condition, and popularity really come into play with the classic car. Well, that would also need to be a good make and comparatively well-serviced. For the classic car having not much mileage on the clock may be a disadvantage, it could indicate a history of sitting broken. It can also be bad for cars to sit if not properly stored. A considerable amount of mileage would be expected and wouldn’t do much with the price of the vehicle.

The used car and the classic car may have the problem with obtaining parts in common, with the difficulties tending to stack up with the classic car. Another point in the used car’s favor is that it would probably not break down, but the classic car may break down all the time.

The classic car is the car almost like a commodity in one respect, not bought to be used, but as a status symbol and perhaps the most likely to gain value. Of course, if you actually use the classic car as a family car it won’t retain its value as well as if it’s babied.

How it usually stacks up:

The real problem with the new car is that its value decreases extremely quickly. A car can lose 10% of its value simply through being driven home. That’s a big hurdle to overcome. The sales price is only one factor, however, and very soon the used car and the classic car will be the more expensive to maintain so the carrying costs are higher.

When you factor purchase price and carrying cost (likelihood it’ll break down and cost to fix), plus cost to operate, it’s not looking good for the future of these three vehicles. Which is the best choice?

It always comes down to your needs and intended use. Most of us need a slightly used car, with a fair upfront price and spread the expensive maintenance over the next few years. However, if you buy a lemon you’ll regret it, so have your car inspected.

You might ask when these three cars will be the same price again.

Certainly not when they are sold for scrap. The classic car has a much higher scrap value – the parts are novel, the standard of the interior much more likely to be worth preserving. Certainly, it will be a long time before the new car is scrapped, but when it does there will be nothing remarkable about the parts.

So which car would you have?

 

Negotiating for a Vehicle with Diminished Value

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You’re in the market for a new ride, and negotiating is nearly a requirement. When you first check out a car, make sure you get the full vehicle report. If the vehicle was in an accident—even if it was “just” a fender bender—there’s diminished value. That means that the car isn’t worth the blue book price, even if it was completely repaired.

Let’s say that the vehicle was in a small parking lot accident. The bumper was dented but has been replaced. That’s good news for you. It still has diminished value, even if the entire part that was damaged has been replaced.

The reason for this is simple, repair shops do what makes the insurance company happy and not the car owner. They may very well have repaired the vehicle to its pre-loss condition, but that’s the exception, not the rule. So, value standards companies discount value based on the standard practices.

Quick Plug for Independent Car Inspection

A good inspection service like our sponsor, Tire Kickers, will help establish a car’s true value along with verifying it’s safety. By examining the cars history for you, along with what similar cars have sold for nearby, and the actual condition of the vehicle they can give you a true value to use as a club during negotiations.

Your Opening Argument

headlamp-2940_1920You might not know about diminished value claims, and the seller might not either. Many insurance policies actually have a diminished value claim as an option, but they don’t advertise it. When you’re in an accident, you can file this claim in order to make up for the loss of value. There’s usually no time limit for filing this claim.

You might have to educate the seller a little. They can still file that claim, even when they’re about to sell. This way, you can pay less for the car and the seller still gets the money. It’s a win-win situation for both of you, but this isn’t always a possibility since their policy might not have the option.

crash-test-1620600_1920Get the Facts

You should have the full vehicle report and a 150-point inspection before purchasing a car. If you’re considering a classic or collector car, a specialty inspection is in order. You need to consider the dollar value loss that an accident caused. Whether or not the car was repaired doesn’t matter.

You’ll be the one dealing with the diminished value when and if you sell the car. You weren’t the one in the accident. It’s not fair that you’ll be taking the loss down the road. The seller might not think it’s fair, but nobody can argue with an inspector’s bottom line.

Is it a Smart Move?

You need to decide if it’s a good decision to purchase a vehicle that’s been in an accident. The car will always have a diminished value. However, you also have to consider safety. It’s generally accepted that cars that have been in a collision might not be as safe.

Consider the accident, where the car was impacted and decide wisely. Remember that it’s not just your money that’s on the line, but also the safety of yourself and your passengers. You might be able to score a great deal on a car with diminished value. However, just make sure that it’s still up to snuff in the safety department.

4 Checkpoints When Buying a Classic Car

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Classic car restoration can be a beast, even for DIY mechanics with plenty of experience. Depending on the needs of your classic ride, there’s bound to be at least a few areas where you’re not skilled—working out dents, re-upholstering or simply having connections to the right dealers who have original parts. For many people, owning a restored classic car is a major item on their bucket list. However, it’s easy to get stuck with a lemon.

It’s also easy to spend several thousand dollars on restoration, ultimately getting you a car that (albeit close to perfect) you’ve dumped way too much money into. When shopping for a classic car project, there are a few checkpoints to carefully consider. Simultaneously, you should also have a restoration shop in your corner who provides quality results that work with your budget.

  1. Rust=no go

jaguar-3366957_1920.jpgRust is fairly common, and when it’s minimal and just on the surface, you might be able to power wash it off. However, if the chassis has been destroyed or if you’ll need to totally replace steel panels, it’s not worth it. It’s not unusual to strip the chassis, sandblast it, remove sections and weld brand new pieces together. This isn’t just expensive, but ultimately means it’s not an original car. Only the lucky few can find replacement panels, but most need to create makeshift panels themselves. Rust buckets should be reserved for only the very skilled (or the very wealthy).

  1. Focus on value

auto-3351802_1920There are tons of old cars out there, but age alone doesn’t make a car a classic. While there will always be niche markets for pretty much every car, you deserve one that retains its value. Never let impulses control your purchase, and spend some time researching the most reliable classic cars that won’t lose their value. Bonus points if you snag a car that appreciates—and remember that upfront costs are only a small portion of what you’ll be spending.

  1. Check for replacement parts

auto-3352982_1920Assuming the worst case scenario happens and you have to replace a lot of parts, how easy are they to find? How affordable are they? Purchasing a really rare car is a thrill, but if they don’t make it anymore (or the manufacturer no longer exists), it’s going to be tough to find aftermarket parts. Pretend like you’re searching for parts well before making the purchase, and experience first-hand what might be in store.

  1. Power up

abandoned-3401168_1920At the very least, you need a car that easily starts and runs. If it overheats during the test drive, is cranky to start or the current owner promises “all it needs is a new battery,” be wary. If the battery story is true, most owners would spring for that cheap part in order to sell their car. A more likely scenario is a seized or otherwise destroyed engine that needs replacing.

Ideally, you have an expert on hand who can run diagnostics on the car before you make an offer. If the seller is on the up and up, they’ll be happy to let a pro take a look. If they resist, they’re probably hiding something and you’re better off continuing your hunt elsewhere.

Dangers of a Flood Car

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After the flood waters of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy retreated, a flood of another kind began–the flood of brand new vehicles that were totaled by insurance as a result of flood damage hitting the car auctions.

“Flood cars” flood the market (literally) following most natural disasters. Unfortunately, it can be pretty tough to spot a flood car without a trained eye. It takes not only inspection but a bit of detective work. After collecting an insurance payout, or sometimes while waiting months for insurance to do the right thing, dealerships can accept a settlement for a totaled vehicle and “buy” it back from the insurance company. The title will have a salvaged title, aka rebuilt title. Sometimes it won’t and we’ll come back to that.

Local Disasters

First, let’s address localized flood incidents. As a general rule of thumb, avoid vehicles which are being sold close to recent disaster sites and always trace the origin back to the previous owner’s address. Chances are if you buy a car that was recently registered near a massive flood, it sustained some damage that’s invisible to the naked eye.

After Big Disasters

Disasters on the scale of Katrina leave entire lots full of brand new vehicles totaled. Insurance companies are overwhelmed and slow to respond. These are cars with hardly a scratch and less than ten miles on the odometer. The temptation is to dry them out and clean them up, then sell them at auction and write off the loss. Unprincipled middlemen will snap them up and transport them to a part of the country far from the flood where they auction them again for large profit.

It’s important to note that auctions allow almost no pre-bid inspection. Most large dealerships that accidentally buy a “bad” car simply re-auction them. It keeps there name clean but creates a glut of cheap cars that go to other dealerships that don’t care about reputation.

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The Good News

The good news is that flood damage isn’t always invisible, but you might need to check some otherwise strange locations. The upholstery is going to be the first place water damage is noticeable, with rot, mold or mildew being present. You may have to lift some of the upholstery to get a peek, but remember that a good cleaning (from a shoddy dealership) can temporarily keep visible signs of water damage at bay.

Here’s how to avoid a flood car and why you should never take a gamble.

 

Only Use Honest Dealers (Trust but Verify)

 If you buy a car from an owner, they can stretch the truth as much as they like with no real repercussions. However, a car doesn’t need to be in a disaster zone in order to get flood damage. If you’re considering a car from an owner in an area you’re unfamiliar with, do a brief search of recent floods in the area to see what the odds are of ending up with a flood car. If the car has been auctioned repeatedly in a short period of time that’s a warning sign. If the asking price is too good to be true, it’s for a reason.rolls-royce-3366960_1920

Otherwise, research dealerships, check testimonials and trust your gut. If there are high-pressure sales, a sudden influx of cars or other red flags, it’s best to stay clear.

No matter what, rely on a third party such as a lemon busting company to do a full inspection. When you’re paying the inspector, their allegiance is to you. You’re mechanic is often to busy to do an inspection at the drop of a hat when you find the right car for you and they may not do the online legwork to get a good picture of the cars history.

Bottom line, don’t depend on a dealership to provide comprehensive information; they should welcome a third party unless they have something to hide.

Flood car dangers

 When talking about device failures it’s important to note three things:

  1. What’s likely to fail?
  2. How catastrophic the results of the failure?
  3. How expensive it is to fix (to prevent or repair damage)?

The full impact of flood damage might not come to light until weeks, months, or even a couple of years later. However, the internal damage can be severe and not noticeable even to a skilled mechanic.

One of the most common dangers is brakes that suddenly go out months after flood damage from rust. Obviously, a vehicle is made up largely of metal parts which are prone to rust. Brakes can fail with no sign if they were submerged in water.

Other common flood car problems are electrical issues (and resulting fire hazards) as well as black mold which hides in hard to reach spaces and can be fatal to humans.

So the issue here is less about what could fail, it’s about how bad the results are when they do. There’s no point in risking the purchase of a flood car. They’re simply unsafe and unpredictable.