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Old 01-22-2014, 09:11 AM   #1
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Hi, I have 3 days to get a used car checked out before I buy it. I'm wondering if the drive train, timing belt (and other expensive parts) can even be checked out. You can't tell when a light bulb is going to blow, for example.

A 50-point safety inspection has been done, and I'd like to know what big things else I should ask the mechanic to check. Thank you. It's a 1999 toyota rav4 L, one owner.

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Old 01-22-2014, 09:52 AM   #2
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mechanic check of car before purchase


It's a 1999. With any used car like that, unless you have service records, you can't tell how old the timing belt is or when it was changed last. I would play it safe and plan to change the timing belt, radiator hoses, and serpentine belt reguardless. I would also do a full tune-up.

Depending on how high the mileage is, I would also plan for a new water pump.

Have your mechanic look at the radiator. It has plastic tanks, which are known to crack. Have him look for leaks and/or discoloration in the plastic tanks. Any brown or olive coloring of the tanks means that the plastic is getting brittle and could fail soon.

See if you can have the front end alignment checked. The alignment shop can tell you if it's been in an accident before.

Who did the 50 point inspection? The seller of the car? Have your mechanic repeat it.

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Old 01-22-2014, 11:25 AM   #3
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mechanic check of car before purchase


thank you so much. I guess the same would apply to the power steering pump. The dealer did the 50-point check.
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:07 PM   #4
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Quote:
Originally Posted by DIherself View Post
thank you so much. I guess the same would apply to the power steering pump. The dealer did the 50-point check.
If the dealer did the 50-point check, definitely have your mechanic do it.

I recently bought a 2004 model that the dealer claimed they did the 50 point check on. The first thing I noticed before the test drive was that it had a weak battery. Starting the car was very slow. They claimed to had already tested it, and said that it tested good. I asked them if they could test the battery again in my presence. They did, and it was bad. They gave me a new battery with the car.

I've learned that some places don't actually do a 50pt check. If it runs, drives, and everything works, then they just say they did it.

Since you know which car you want, you could also find a Rav4 forum similar to this one, or a Toyota forum and ask them what are the problem area's to look for on that particular vehicle. Better to be more informed than stuck with problems you didn't know were there, if there are any.
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:47 PM   #5
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mechanic check of car before purchase


All dealers DO a 50 point check they just don't fix everything they find. Usually just the stuff that is noticeable on the test drive.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:41 PM   #6
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Ask to see the sheet the mechanic filled out. If it's anything like the dealer I worked for (and they're pretty much all run this way), the service department charges the sales dept. for the inspection and all the work, so it's in their best interest to write up everything they find. The used car manager is the one who ultimately decides whether or not to fix something.

At least you'll know what's needed (if the mechanic was any good).
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:58 AM   #7
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I had no idea that's how it worked (service dept charging sales). Then maybe it would be good to get everything fixed at the dealer that's selling it, rather than taking it to an independent mechanic, keep it all in the family there. I did call one independent mechanic, and they said they only do a visual inspection for $80. I'd really like to see the sheet the mechanic used.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:06 PM   #8
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mechanic check of car before purchase


If they don't show it to you, don't buy the car.

Another advantage to having the work done at the dealer is they can roll it into the price of the car, rather than you having an additional $1000 bill (or whatever it is). The sales dept. *shouldn't* mark up the repair bill, but make sure they don't anyway.

I guess I should add that the dealer I worked for was a large new-car dealer, some of the smaller independent dealers wouldn't necessarily do it that way.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:16 PM   #9
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I went to the dealership yesterday and asked for the checklist from the salesman. He showed me the list of what they had fixed already that was with the car at which we were standing, but I said I wanted to know what the mechanic found that didn't get fixed BUT that I'd get it fixed there, I just need to know.

He went and asked somebody but came back and said everything checked out okay but didn't bring me any more paper -- just referred me back to the list of what they already fixed. I said I'd think about it. Then I got your reply just now, so whew and thank you from the bottom of my fuel tank, Mort.
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Old 01-27-2014, 05:07 PM   #10
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Glad I could help

There are plenty of other cars. And dealerships.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:47 PM   #11
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Way back when, I worked for a good independent shop. I did "buyer's checks" for my customers all the time. I always found something. The shop charged 1.5 hours for the check.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:49 PM   #12
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I consider myself very sharp when buying used cars. Everytime I take a car I want to buy to my mechanic, he puts it on the lift and generally finds enough to make it worth bringing it in.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:30 PM   #13
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mechanic check of car before purchase


Buying from a dealer, I ask:


If all those items are checked and okay, then will you give me a warranty in writing...?



Usually goes downhill from there....

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