Used Car Buying Tip: Don’t Trust Your Own Eyes
Andrew Maness August 18, 2015

1970 Mercedes Benz 220 interior

During my 29 years on this planet I’ve heard the phrase “The only person you can truly trust is yourself”. While that’s a nice thought, it’s total BS. You can’t trust yourself as far as you can throw yourself, which is a distance of zero anything. Unless of course you’ve successfully pulled off the world’s first human cloning, in which case I suppose congratulations are in order. Do I congratulate both parties though? I mean technically both you and your clone are responsible for executing the procedure. If I don’t thank you 2.0 then perhaps they will get jealous and turn on you. They may even claim to be the original you and how am I to know the difference? See, this is getting messy already and only further serves to make my point. If you can’t trust your clone to admit they’re not the original you, then how can you trust yourself to be honest with yourself about the used car you just fell in love with?

Yes, thank you. I know that was the reach of the century, but the connection was made. The point is that no matter how badly you want to be objective when going to look at a used car, you’re not going to be. The very fact that you went so far as to get in touch with the seller and arrange a time to see the vehicle, that means you’re contemplating the reality of you owning the car. Doesn’t matter how remote of a possibility purchasing the vehicle is, the seed has been planted simply by going to see it. Once you’ve walked around it, driven it, and inspected it, the picture of ownership you began to draw when you first opened the ad is nearly fully fleshed out. The problem is that this picture isn’t an accurate representation of reality. It is abstract and though it may be wonderfully so, when it comes to monetary transactions for goods, the abstract should have no bearing.

The only things you should take into consideration when purchasing a used car are tangible elements and facts. The problem is that we’re flawed beings and we have these stupid things called emotions. Emotions get in the way of rational thinking in many aspects of life, but nowhere are they as detrimental as in the purchasing of goods. Vehicles are the biggest ticket item that the average person will buy during their lifetime, so it is with vehicles that our emotions run wild, and can lead us into trouble.

For the most part that trouble will be of a financial nature and that will effect every aspect of your life. You want to do everything you can to limit negative energy in your life right? There are only so many things you can directly control and lucky for you, the addition of financial burden is one of them. You’ll likely have convinced yourself that you can afford that used diamond in the rough if you just cut some spending in other areas. After all, it’s way easier to talk yourself into something than it is to talk yourself out of it. You’re a master of self manipulation and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to be objective about your purchases.

Once you start being objective, you’ll realize that you’re hardly qualified to be the judge of a car you want. You can’t trust your own eyes, you need another set and it helps if they’re in the skull of someone qualified to pass judgement on a the vehicle. In certain cases this may require payment of some kind, but the upfront cost of a third party evaluation will always be worth the piece of mind that it comes with. Depending on the type of vehicle you’re interested in, the level of inspection and knowledge that the inspector possesses can vary.

For example, if you’re looking at a certified pre-owned vehicle that is only a few years old, there should be a wealth of information out there, so the need for an individual specializing in the particular brand and model is less necessary. It’s still a good idea to have a third party evaluate the vehicle if possible, but at the very least you should get an opinion on it from someone who has nothing to gain from your purchasing the car. That rules out friends and relatives that you regularly drive around, they’re have a dog in the fight, whether they admit it or not. Just suck it up, pay someone to come look at the car with you in order cover your ass now, and avoid having a serious pain in it later.

This may seem obvious, but the older and rarer the car, the more specialized you’ll want the third party evaluator to be.  Set an amount that you’re comfortable spending in order to know exactly what you’d be getting yourself into should you purchase the car. While I don’t have an exact formula for calculating this expense, it should be relative to the cost of the vehicle. That doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in cost for the services, but keep in mind, these people are giving you their time and time is money.

1970 Mercedes Benz 220

Andrew Maness Head Writer

Native New Englander currently residing in Los Angeles. I like to go fast and tell stories, sometimes from behind a camera, sometimes in front of one.