Recently I was in the market for a used car. All of our shop courtesy vehicles are Honda or Toyota, I also personally own Hondas and Toyotas since my research shows they are known for longevity as long as they are maintained properly (which equate to a low cost of owning). Our shop acquired an old Lexus which I have to admit, I enjoy the “driving in my living room” experience….so yes, I went in search of a used Lexus.
I started with the Lexus dealer and found a high mileage car in my price range (yes, champagne on a beer budget). The body was in perfect condition. The inside was spotless and inside the hood showed gleaming metal. If I didn’t’ own an auto repair shop, I would have been sold.
I drove it to my shop (Medi-CAR in Rosemount) and the technician lifted it on the hoist and noticed several issues—the rack and pinion was leaking and there were several fluid leaks: oil and transmission. He advised to pass on this vehicle.
We found another Lexus, half the miles for the same price, at a small dealer in Woodbury. Instead of driving back to Rosemount, I used a peer’s shop to inspect the vehicle. It was in fairly good condition but the rack and pinion was leaking (boot was torn) and the spare tire was missing. When I presented this information they offered to reduce the price slightly (it was a good price to begin with).
The moral to my experience is no matter how nice the car looks, until you look underneath with the right tools and technician experience, you may be acquiring expenses you didn’t plan for.
**CAVEAT. While the inspection can help you negotiate the price, avoid buying an expensive problem, it won’t find every issue. In most cases It would not be practical for the inspection to include the internal functionality of mechanical or electrical systems such transmission, rear differential, engine, etc.**