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Should I Have My Mechanic Look At A Car Before Buying?

At BHPHPrices.com, it is our position for the consumer to obtain a second opinion about a prospective purchase. This is usually provided by a knowledgeable confidant; typically a mechanic. However, our recommendation does comes with some caveats. Firstly, it is important to understand what you are looking to purchase and from whom you are buying it. Older BHPH vehicles are going to have more issues and problems than newer ones. That is a given. Please do not expect more from a vehicle than can reasonably expected. Do not expect a pristine, showroom condition seven year old Hyundai Accent. They simply do not exist. It is necessary for your expert to get that. Oftentimes, mechanics rip apart older cars with 100+ miles. They destroy every part of the vehicle. That is quite easy to do. However, the result of this approach is that nothing will ever be good enough for you. We have seen this many many times. Your guru is not doing you any favors. He must temper his assessment of a particular vehicle with an appreciation for the year and the normal condition that the vehicle should have. Sometimes, a mechanic feels compelled to find problems or point out potential headaches to justify your faith in him. We are not trying to diminish legitimate concerns, but please, put your faith in someone who has a realistic approach to your prospective purchase. Used cars are just that....they are used. You will never acquire any vehicle if you do not embrace that concept.

We beleive that the most important decision that you can make in your prospective purchase is a vetting of the dealer. After all, this is the place that has to back up the vehicle if you have problems. This is the place where you have to make payments. No responsible dealer willingly sells a problematic vehicle purposely. That is plain silly and makes very little economic sense. We recommend doing business with a well established dealer. We suggest that you ask the dealer if the the vehicles offered are warrantied and safety inspected and what the warranty covers and what constitutes a safety inspection. The dealer's reputation is important to him and he will strive to keep you safe and to keep you motoring.

Questions To Ask Your Mechanic?

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Are you and your mechanic's ASE Certified?
  3. What types of vehicles do you normally repair/work on?
    • Some mechanics are niche mechanics. Niche mechanics meaning they will only repair a certain type of vehicle and nothing else. These type of mechanic's can be good and bad. If for example, they specilzize in working on Honda vehicles then bringing them to a dealership that's going to sell you a Honda would make for a good fit. On the flip side, if the dealer determines your best suited for a Ford Windstar verses a Honda Odyssey then this mechanic isn't going to be much a help.
  4. How many repeat customers do you have?
  5. Have many complaints are logged againist you at the BBB?
  6. What's your current business rating on Yelp?
    • This question should be asked for all types of websites. For example, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Angies List etc.. A simple Google search and common sense will help you find a local trustworthy mechanic.
  7. If you give your stamp of approval on a vehicle we both look at and something bad goes wrong with it, are you going to be responsible?
  8. Do you repair vehicles that have a third party waranty?
  9. Do you farm out any of your repair work?
  10. Do you have diagnostic machines for the vehicles you work on?
  11. Are you insured?
    • Any reputable mechanic will be insured. We don't recommend you do business with "shade-tree" mechanics. While they may have the best intentions they often aren't insured and don't have the resources necessary to repair cars.

Questions To Ask The Dealer

  1. Can I have my mechanic put the vehicle on a lift?
  2. How long have you had the vehicle?
  3. Do you have a previous mainteance record history on the vehicle?
  4. Are you mechanics ASE Certified?
  5. Do you provide a third party or in-house warranty?
    • What's covered under the warranty?
    • What's not covered under the warranty?
  6. When the vehicle needs repair. What's the process of going about getting it repaired. Do I bring the vehicle in or do i have to call and make an appointment?
  7. Do you have diagnostic machines for the vehicles you work on?
  8. Are your mechanics ASE certified?
  9. How long does the repair process take?
  10. Who's responsible for routine maintenance? IE breaks, tires, rooter, exhaust
  11. Do you inspect vehicles before you sell them?
  12. Do you put your vehicles through any stringent safety checks before you issue them for sale?
  13. How long have your mechanics been emplyed at your dealership?
  14. Your dealership just put me into a (insert car). What are some known mechanic programs for that make and model?
  15. When the check engine lights comes on, should I bring the car into the dealership or should I keep driving the vehicle?

This article was written by Brian McCormick of Providence, Rhode Island. Brian is a BHPH expert and has been involved in the used car and BHPH industry for over 40 years. He enjoys his family and his favorite sports team, The Boston Red Sox. He Graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1970. Follow him on Google+