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#1
Old 05-04-2011, 01:18 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 219
What is the 'timeline' for taking a used car to a mechanic before you buy it?

This is one of those "don't need answer fast", but I've always wondered about this. I tend to buy a 'new' used-car once every 5 - 6 years, and have (admittedly) never bothered to take it to a mechanic first, like 'they' say you should.

My experience was always that you're allowed a 15 - 20 minute test drive, with the salesperson in the passenger seat, and that was supposed to be enough for you to decide if you wanted to move forward or not.

(I'm too naive / trusting / gullible to ever buy a used car from a 'private' individual seller, so let's rule that scenario out).

But when am I supposed to say "ok, let me take it to a dealership / local mechanic, and have him check it out... I'll be back in, oh, about 4 - 6 hours (or maybe even tomorrow if the guy I trust doesn't have time for me today)"?

Am I supposed to expect that they're going to let me just take the car (alone) for that period of time? Is that standard, and all that it takes is asking?

Or am I supposed to set the appointment with the mechanic beforehand? "hey, I may or may not be bringing a used car down here for you to give it a complete physical... please reserve a couple of hours for me - just in case, ok?"

Thanks for any input.
#2
Old 05-04-2011, 02:55 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,819
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianh333 View Post
This is one of those "don't need answer fast", but I've always wondered about this. I tend to buy a 'new' used-car once every 5 - 6 years, and have (admittedly) never bothered to take it to a mechanic first, like 'they' say you should.

My experience was always that you're allowed a 15 - 20 minute test drive, with the salesperson in the passenger seat, and that was supposed to be enough for you to decide if you wanted to move forward or not.

(I'm too naive / trusting / gullible to ever buy a used car from a 'private' individual seller, so let's rule that scenario out).

But when am I supposed to say "ok, let me take it to a dealership / local mechanic, and have him check it out... I'll be back in, oh, about 4 - 6 hours (or maybe even tomorrow if the guy I trust doesn't have time for me today)"?

Am I supposed to expect that they're going to let me just take the car (alone) for that period of time? Is that standard, and all that it takes is asking?

Or am I supposed to set the appointment with the mechanic beforehand? "hey, I may or may not be bringing a used car down here for you to give it a complete physical... please reserve a couple of hours for me - just in case, ok?"

Thanks for any input.
Based on my own experience (anecdote is not data)
1. My mechanic would have been warned ahead of time as I would have checked he has time to cater to me
2. His checks would take around an hour
3. After test drive I would agree to purchase the car "pending the inspection"
4. Would agree a time later in the day to return the car to the car yard OR to complete the paperwork (whichever is relevant)
5. We have been given overnight test drives of used cars before (but it was our third car from the same sales guy)
6. Friends have had overnight testdrives of new cars
#3
Old 05-04-2011, 03:06 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Montana
Posts: 4,965
I agree with the above, but I would just add that I will tell the salesperson or private seller up front (possibly even over the phone) that I will require the car to be inspected by my mechanic. If they're going to balk at that, it's better to know ahead of time so I don't have to waste my time. No reason to spring it on the guy later, and plus you don't want to get too attached to a car if they're not going to let you inspect it.
#4
Old 05-04-2011, 06:50 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,819
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
I agree with the above, but I would just add that I will tell the salesperson or private seller up front (possibly even over the phone) that I will require the car to be inspected by my mechanic. If they're going to balk at that, it's better to know ahead of time so I don't have to waste my time. No reason to spring it on the guy later, and plus you don't want to get too attached to a car if they're not going to let you inspect it.
+1 on that - but when I've been dealing through a licensed dealer, it's pretty mucch expected and not a problem...
#5
Old 05-04-2011, 07:55 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 10,329
We just sold a car last month. The buyer wanted a professional mechanic of her choice to check the car out. We had her make arrangements with the mechanic, and then we dropped the car off at the mechanic and picked it up the next day. It all went pretty smoothly.

I don't know what "standard" is for buying a used car from a dealership; never done that (my first two cars were used, but came from my parents). Just tell the dealer what you'd like to do (i.e. you want your own independent mechanic to check the car out for you), and see what they're willing to do to accomodate you. I promise, you will not get tossed out on your ear for merely asking.
#6
Old 05-04-2011, 08:32 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: N Texas
Posts: 2,560
I usually schedule a time with the mechanic in advance, and offer to buy the salesman lunch while the inspection is taking place. This always works, even if the dealership has a policy limiting test drive durations. It works pretty well for individual sellers too.
#7
Old 05-04-2011, 10:26 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Tampa Bay
Posts: 687
Quote:
Originally Posted by pullin View Post
...and offer to buy the salesman lunch while the inspection is taking place.
You're buying the car. The salesman (the dealership by means of reimbursement) should be buying lunch for you!
#8
Old 05-04-2011, 02:37 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,545
I just got a used van last summer from a dealer over a hundred miles away. He had no problem with us taking it that far overnight, getting it checked out by our mechanic, and bringing it back the next day. Of course, we were also quite clear that as long as our mechanic gave a thumbs up rating, we were definitely buying it. He even bought us the tank of gas to take it home and back.

Last edited by Cheshire Human; 05-04-2011 at 02:38 PM.
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