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Thread: Used car horror stories

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Used car horror stories

    Used car horror stories
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Tales of deep woods-dwelling ax murderes may instill fear in Cub Scouts huddled around a flickering late night campfire -- but few things are as frightening to adults as the real-life used car horror story.

    Here are some classic bone-chillers:

    * The Swamp Thing. An unsuspecting buyer notices a musty smell in his just-bought used vehicle. The heavy dampness of the crypt seems to waft from the carpets and seat cushions. A light fog/mist is omnispresence on the interior surfaces of the windshield. Electronic poltergeists trigger dashboard lights that come on and go off again for no apparent reason; power accessories seem to have a life of their own. Sometimes they work -- sometimes they don't. Congratulations -- you've bought a car that tested its mettle underwater as well as on the road. It may have been deep-sixed into a swamp -- or merely driven through water high enough to get into the passenger compartment. Either way, you've got a musty, moldy mess. Services such as Carfax.com can help spot flood-damaged cars because there are insurance claim records -- but may not identify vehicles that have simply gotten excessively wet. Before you hand over your dinero, look for signs of water damage such as damp carpets and rust in places it shouldn't be -- such as inside the trunk and under the dash. Scrutinze the lower portion of each door panel; if you see a "water line" -- move on, fast!

    * The Changeling: You think you bought a red car -- but a few months down the road you get a paint chip in the door and notice it's blue underneath. Guess what? It's either not the door that came on the car from the factory -- or the door's been resprayed as a result of an accident. A little poking around could have saved you a bunch of trouble -- and alerted you to previous bodywork, perhaps even evidence of major damage. Before you buy any used car, always do a careful walk around and look closely for signs of repainting. Check inside the fenderwells and underneath the car for overspray. Be suspicious of fresh undercoating -- it may have been applied to mask previous damage/repair work. Open each door and gently pull the flexible rubber weatherstripping back just slightly. If the door was resprayed, you will likely uncover evidence here. If you find different color paint hiding under rubber weatherstripping or door panels and trim, the original door (or hood, etc.) was likely replaced with a used part from a junkyard. Remember: Any car that's been involved in an accident is worth less than one that hasn't. Make sure you know what you are buying before you make the deal.

    * Four-wheeled Frankenstein: Shelley's mythical creature was assembled using the sewn-together scraps of various cadavers jolted to life by a bolt of lightning. The automotive version works on the same basic principle -- only the animating force is greed, not a lust to conquer death. Car "a" is involved in a violent head-on collision; it's totaled by the insurance company and sent to the junk yard -- where it's supposed to be sold for parts. But across town, there's been another accident. Car "b" is nailed hard from behind. -- and it just happens to be the same year, make and model as "a." It, too, gets totaled by the insurance company and sent to the boneyard. But what happens post mortem is much more gruesome than the wrecks that claimed these cars. An unscrupulous operator with a welding rig and air compressor buys the remains -- and uses the good back half of the first car and the good front end of the second car to patch together one "new" car. A little laundering of the paperwork later and the resultant mess is slipped quietly into the used car food chain -- where it might just end up being puchased by someone such as yourself. This practice is illegal and unsafe -- but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Services such as Carfax.com can help uncover red flags suggestive of "salvaged titles" (that is, a car that was delcared a total loss by an insurance company) and so on -- but it pays to be paranoid and have the car checked carefully for evidence of any metal-bending carnage. Be extremely suspicious of any car that doesn't track straight or which can't be aligned properly. Evidence of non-factory welds on the frame are reason to flee the scene immediately.

    * The Wallet Vampire: Beware the used car that drains your wallet as fast as Dracula sucks dry his victims. This is the car that the dealer seemed all-too-eager to get rid of -- the one with the too-good-to-be-true price. Instead of getting a bargain, you've opened up a new line of credit that will deplete your reserves so fast you'll yearn for the release that death brings, The best way to avoid the Wallet Vampire is to avoid known "problem cars" -- makes/models that have a higher than normal incidence of problems and recalls (check NHTSA's web site at www.NHTSA.dot.gov or Nutz & Boltz "Wreck Alls" at www.nutzandboltz.org). Be suspicious about cars with unusually low mileage for their model year (it may have been in the shop more than on the road) and multiple previous owners for cars less than five years old (why did these people get rid of the car so soon?). Stay away from ex "program cars" -- these may have been used as media press fleet vehicles and thrashed by dozens of leadfoot automotive journalists. Common sense and the rule of "If it's too good to be true it probably is" will be all the garlic you'll need to ward off the Wallet Vampire.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    I guess the worst used car story I have is when I bought a "jap crap" used Ford Laser diesel. This was in the early days when Kiwis thought they had a nice late model car...which turned out to be a really neglected car.

    Just bought it as a second car to replace my Suzuki 413J

    I had it for about 18 months and then decided I did not need it, this is when I discovered theproblem.

    I had a friend help me clean it up for sale. Strangely he could not get the finger marks off the the speedo window.... when I looked closely I could see these marks were on the inside. I reckon, but no proof that the shonky dealer had wound the clock back.....either in Japan or in NZ.
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    I guess the worst used car story I have is when I bought a "jap crap" used Ford Laser diesel. This was in the early days when Kiwis thought they had a nice late model car...which turned out to be a really neglected car.

    Just bought it as a second car to replace my Suzuki 413J

    I had it for about 18 months and then decided I did not need it, this is when I discovered theproblem.

    I had a friend help me clean it up for sale. Strangely he could not get the finger marks off the the speedo window.... when I looked closely I could see these marks were on the inside. I reckon, but no proof that the shonky dealer had wound the clock back.....either in Japan or in NZ.
    Pretty maggoty, eh?

    I remember fiddling with GM cars in the late '70s; the odometers could be rolled back withincredible ease if you were of a mind to do so....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    I remember fiddling with GM cars in the late '70s; the odometers could be rolled back withincredible ease if you were of a mind to do so....
    When working for Hertz in NZ we had VW 1500/1302s. They were easy to disconnect the speedo. Caught one renter out as he checkkd the car in. He had been 250 miles away in another city....so had I. I had seen the car...bright orange. Amazingly after threatening him with fraud he coughed up for the estomated mileage. He had been a regular renter and had always requested VWs. We never saw him again
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  5. #5
    DennisWG
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    I'm almost tempted to ask who purchased Ted Kennedy's famous '69 Oldsmobile.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisWG
    I'm almost tempted to ask who purchased Ted Kennedy's famous '69 Oldsmobile.
    Err,ahh... where's the Chivas??

  7. #7
    jillsuncle
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    For the record my last post was dull and lame and deleted.

    New Post: I don't buy used cars - I don't have a horror story to tell.

    V

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Used car horror stories

    Quote Originally Posted by jillsuncle
    For the record my last post was dull and lame and deleted.

    New Post: I don't buy used cars - I don't have a horror story to tell.

    V
    I've had a number of low-bucks shitboxes over the years - but all worked more or less reliably. I did have the rusted out floor of a '73 Beetle come apart on my while driving... that was pretty hilarious!

    PS - Still looking for a decent (and decently priced H2; the damn things are not cheap, chief!)

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