Learn how to find a safe, reliable used car

eLemonators Used Car Inspections

Used car school

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Used Car School

Buying a used car can save a lot of money if a few guidelines are observed. Frustration on the buyer's part can easily be turned Into a tool for sellers wanting to make a quick sale! The original buyer absorbed the initial depreciation of the car as it was driven off the new car lot. A car with low miles is usually a wise purchase if the reason for Its premature sale can be determined. Knowledge about how to approach the task of purchasing a car is Important. The following guidelines and some patience can be helpful.


A) FAMILY___WORK___ R/V___ 
D) CONSUMER RATINGS_____________
E) SAFETY RATINGS_____________


The best way to avoid high interest rates and hidden fees is to arrange a pre-approved auto loan through your bank or credit union. If you have trouble getting credit the last thing you need is FREDDY CREDIT or LUCY LENDER to arrange it for you at the dealership! The loan interest rate will depend on how “off guard” you are and can vary from very high to ridiculous. It also affects the kind of car the dealership is willing to sell you. Based on a less than desirable or bad credit report they will not let you leave the lot with anything they value. It will not be the car you want! (TRUST ME) If you have a pre-approved loan you can leverage them for a good deal on the car you want rather than the other way around. If they want you to sign anything make sure it’s a car that you want. It is always better to sign papers only after the vehicle has been inspected by a professional. If they balk at having an unbiased, independent inspection performed on the car BUY ELSEWHERE. They cannot keep you from having the car inspected. If you must have the car and you are afraid it will get sold it probably wont. But if you want to put money down be sure it is clear that the sale is contingent upon your review of an inspection report with a refund of all of your expenses if it does not meet your approval. Use only these words and not what they make sound good to you. Major mechanical can mean a lot of things and exclude even more things. Smaller repairs can often cost as much or more than major ones and if the car has frame damage you could be out of luck. IF YOU MAKE A DOWN PAYMENT, DO NOT TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CAR UNTIL AFTER THE ELEMONATORS GOES TO THE DEALER FOR THE INSPECTION!


Try to decide on the make and model you desire. Don't let a salesman change your mind; chances are there is a car he wants to unload at a price that will be a temptation to an unprepared buyer. Find out book values for the car you choose and approach the salesman with a fair offer that you are willing to pay contingent upon the outcome of an inspection performed by an A.S.E. certified technician. (You can find book values for the car you have chosen by calling your lender or eLemonators for this Information and other details regarding your purchase.) The salesman will likely counter with a price closer to what they want for the car but they now know you are interested in buying. This is the time to make the point clear and strike your best deal. Don't let them talk you out of having the car checked by lowering their price!

When buying from a private party, the same technique can be applied. You will generally find it easier to deal directly with the person that has owned and driven the car for a period of time. Maintenance aspects are also easier to determine.


If you have $4000 to spend on a used car, you night be better off buying a car for $3000 and spend $1000 on needed repairs than to spend the entire sum on a car that will ultimately need repairs anyway. There are times however that it makes more sense to spend a little more for a car that does not need repairs at all. These cars are hard to find but can save a lot of money in repair bills. Buying a car between 20k & 60k miles Is advisable but most cars have scheduled maintenance at 60k that can be fairly expensive. If the 60k service was not done, you will want to get an estimate on the cost of this service. It could add a substantial amount to what you ultimately pay for the car.
If you are buying from a dealership, call the previous owner If possible to ask how the car was used. Rarely do they keep this information but always ask. In general, a car that has been driven on predominantly long trips will have less all around wear than one that has had multiple short trips In which the car never reaches full operating temperature for a sustained period of time. The brakes and clutch are also used Infrequently on sustained trips so wear on then is minimal.


Because of inevitable wear on mechanical parts, it is important to exercise caution when buying used vehicles. Outer appearance does not guarantee sound mechanical or structural integrity. A good policy is to only consider cars with a known structural condition and timely maintenance history. Vehicles that have been in a major accident should have a branded title BUT NOT ALWAYS. In Oregon, a title brand box on the title itself should be empty. There are ways to cleans the title so you should be careful. Title “washing”, “cloned cars” and unrecognized out of state damaged vehicles are very common and it  must be understood that totaled vehicles were not meant to be returned to the road. They can endanger their occupants  as well as those in other cars that are on the road if they do not function properly. Insurance companies total a vehicle that exceeds 75-80% of the value of the car or is structurally unsound. This means that for cost effectiveness, only shortcuts can be taken by the repair facility that is trying to get it back on the road. In many cases a stolen or flooded  vehicle can be your worst nightmare so don’t be lured by the seller saying “but it wasn’t wrecked”. The best advice is to not take a risk with you and your family. Watch this KGW Unit 8 Investigates segment DANGER ON THE ROADS You need to be very careful and DO NOT RELY ON A VEHICLE HISTORY (CarFax) REPORT! They are only as good as what was reported to them and very little gets reported these days. Not even insurance company’s can be 100% trusted to report a totaled vehicle.

Always try to find out where the vehicle was located during its lifetime. For example, if the car came from a flood prone area you may want to think twice. Vehicles exposed to a corrosive environment such as colder NE states and other cold locations where they salt roads to clear ice should be avoided if possible. Ask if maintenance records are available and study them carefully. As a rule, oil changes are important and should have been performed every 3k miles but regular maintenance of all fluids is also mandatory for long term reliability. 


Always make the sale agreement contingent upon successful completion of a thorough inspection of by an A.S.E. certified automobile technician. eLemonator’s technicians are A.S.E. MASTER certified and will give you a clear, unbiased and comprehensive report of the cars overall condition. This will assure buyers that the car they want is a peach not a lemon.

Make several copies of the questionnaire on the “what we do” page and use it when calling about cars you are interested in. Then call us with the information you gathered. We can help you decide which car is most eligible for an inspection.

If you have a car you are not sure you want to keep, give us a call. Our diagnostic evaluation will make your decision to “keep” or “sell” much easier. We can also let you know what may be needed prior to warrant expiration. A pre-sale report can be done that will help you sell a car.http://www.kgw.com/news/consumer/Beware-of-salvage-car-titles-120909699.htmlhttp://www.kgw.com/news/consumer/Beware-of-salvage-car-titles-120909699.htmlhow-elemonators-inspects-used-cars.htmlshapeimage_28_link_0shapeimage_28_link_1shapeimage_28_link_2

Get involved with helping our planet stay greener by calling us for free consultation about a car you have in mind. Lets make sure it is as clean as it should be.


    If you think the car and price are too good to be true, do a few things to help you sort out why.

  1. Look at the Craigslist add again. Are the pictures large and of high quality?  Private sellers rarely spend the time to figure out how to do this. This is most likely a Curb-stoner, a reconstructed car or a dealer posing as a private seller

  2. Does the phone number in the AD look like this? 5-0-3-7-7-1-5-3-4-1 or 5037715341 or or 5o3-6o3-7oo7 where the 0s are actually letters or any other strange way to list a phone # like  503_ 771_53_41? This is done so that if you copy and paste the number, it won’t find the number in a Google search (which is always a good idea to do). It won’t show how many other cars they have for sale. I have been using this trick to find scammers for years but this is information you need to know about. It would be best if you can determine a scam before you pay us to look at it. You will always be warned by us though.

  3. Does the seller want to meet you at a parking lot or anyplace other than his home?

  4. If the seller wants to meet you somewhere other than his home or office, BE CAREFUL! Some people would rather not get scammed themselves so they do not want you to know where they live. Understandable, BUT it is most likely they do not want to let you know how to track them down if there is a problem with the car, the title or whatever. It may also be that they want to warm up the car so it does not display cold car problems such as transmission or tail pipe smoke issues.

  5. Some dealers meet you at a parking lot somewhere because it is against the law to sell cars from their home. They advertise as dealers but they do not want neighbors to complain to the city. A dealer must have a showroom or lot so that customers can view the car but car lot leases are expensive. They can save money by meeting you elsewhere but this is generally not legal; they are not above board and should be reported. Some dealers even pose as car inspectors to gain a larger clientele base. They will not let you know they are a dealer until  they think you might want one of their cars. Remember that dealers involved in used car inspections have ulterior motives and are not able to give you an unbiased report because they would rather sell you a car.

  6. Always ask a car seller if they are a dealer. If they say they are selling their own car then it is likely they don’t want to be responsible for the car you are interested in. Walk away from these deals.


    Are they telling you it has been wrecked but only a fender was replaced?


    You should know that the car might be a totaled, reconstructed car. It would be hard for anyone sell a totaled car if they let

    people think it had sustained major damage. If the car was totaled, it has sustained major structural damage or the car is so

    old that it had no value when it was totaled. In this case, it may have just been semi-major structural damage. Best to stay

    away from these.                                                                

Use this decoder tool to see if the car is what the VIN# indicates it is.