Don’t Get RIPPED OFF Buying a Used Car


– So, you’re thinking about
getting a project car. Good, that’s great news. But how do you do it? How do you actually do it? Where do you look? How do you find one? Once you find one then what do you do, just go to some guy’s house and buy it? Yeah, kind of. Today, we’re gonna break
down that whole process. We’ll show you how to find the right car, how to go inspect it and test drive it, we’ll show you how to negotiate and how to actually buy a project car. Kind of like a big old buyers guide. Come on, let’s go. (trap beat) Hey guys, this episode was
made possible by Mobil 1. Mobil 1 advanced synthetic motor oils are designed to keep
important engine parts in excellent condition for 250,000 miles. But I’ll tell you more about
that later on in the episode. So obviously I think
you should get a Miata, but you don’t have to. You can get whatever you like. But listen, especially if this is
your first project car, you really want to get something
that’s gonna go smoothly. So I’ll give you some criteria for what I think makes for
a good first project car. A lot of this is kind of predicated on the production numbers for a given car. If a car is uncommon or rare, you’re not gonna find very many of them and you’re not gonna find
that many parts for them. So as far as car shopping goes, these days I use Facebook Marketplace. I really like Craig’s List, but nobody seems to
post much there anymore and everybody’s on Facebook
so there’s a lot of traffic. All right, so let’s find some examples. Let’s check some different cars to see if they make for a good project. First, let’s check some
for old Mr. Pumphrey. Check a Mark I Rabbit. – [James] Not good. – (laughs) Not good. A couple examples. Price isn’t too bad. They’re definitely all projects. There’s only about three in all of Southern California
right now for sale. Okay, not terrible. Let’s see what’s out there for parts. There are actually more places still making parts for
these than I thought. That’s not bad. Not the worst choice for a project car, but not the best either. There’s just not that many of them, it’ll be tough to find one. But they’re still out there. Next, let’s look at
something I kind of want that I know is a bad idea. How about an old Jaguar XJ. I love these. Ooh, here’s an XJ 12 for $4,500. That’s the V12. It’s a 1990. They didn’t make very many of these and there’s only one for
sale anywhere around here. So this is a perfect example
of a terrible project car. While it seems cool and it’s enticing, it’s a bad idea. There’s no aftermarket support, there’s no community around these, they didn’t make nearly enough of them. So stay away from stiff like that. Now let’s look for a Miata. Less that $4,500. So many results. I mean, there’s a million examples. Let’s check for parts. I bet I know what we’ll find. Oh, a million parts everywhere. Because they made a million Miatas and everybody’s working on them. As it turns out, the Miata is a great
choice for a project car. Wow. So another thing that you should check when you’re checking out the forums and the Facebook groups
and all that stuff, you should check for vehicle
specific buyers guides. Generally a forum will
have a specific guide to give you an idea of
what you should look for when you’re looking at a specific car. Some cars will have very common issues that you need to be aware of. So before you go look at anything, check for a specific buyer’s guide and that’ll arm you with some knowledge. So once you find something that you like that has a great community, great parts availability, and doesn’t seem to be
being sold by a scammer, it’s time to inquire. So here’s a quick list of stuff that you want to make sure
you ask right off the bat. Get out a pen, write this down, take some notes. You want to ask about the title. Is it clean and in-hand
and ready to sign over? What do I mean by a clean title? I mean not salvaged or rebuilt. Salvaged or rebuilt title means that at some point during a car’s life the insurance company for
that car decided to total it. And that can happen for
a number of reasons, whether it’s the car
actually got into an accident and got mangled, or if it was in a flood which is always an absolute no. Or sometimes maybe it got broken into, some thievery was afoot. So a salvaged title in and of itself isn’t a definite no. You need to do some
research but in my opinion, it’s better to go with a clean title. So anyway, back to
things to ask the seller. If you live in a state that requires the title to be notarized, do they have it notarized? Ask about service records. Does the seller have
any maintenance history or service records? Do you know how this car’s been treated? Has the car been smogged? If you live somewhere that it needs smogged
or emmission checked, has it been done? Another big one, especially if you’re looking for a car that has specific options
or a certain addition, you want to get the vin and at least run it through a vin decoder so you can see what the car
actually was from the factory when it was built. A vin decoder is just
something you can find online for whatever car you’re looking for. You just plug the vin right in and it’ll give you a whole listing of the entire build spec sheet
for the car when it was made. Super handy. Then you can go a step
beyond that if you want and you can take the vin and you can get a Carfax report, which does cost $40 but it can be very much
worth its weight in gold. It gives you a lot of
very pertinent information that can be helpful when you’re
thinking about buying a car. And another thing to think about, which I think a lot of people
do think about, is mileage. Higher miles aren’t
necessarily a bad thing. It’s not always the best way
to gauge the health of a car. Some cars with higher miles
can be very well maintained and be very healthy. There are also on the other side of that cars with low miles that
have been treated very poorly that you don’t want to buy. So the number on the dash
isn’t the end-all be-all. You need to think about
how it’s been treated and cared for over its life. Anyway, if you found a
car that gets you going, you’ve talked to the owner, you’ve asked these questions and everything still checks out, it’s time to go look at it. (chill beat) So it’s time to hit up the
owner and go check it out. But it’s not always the best idea to just go to a stranger’s
house I will admit. So a lot of people like to meet up and check out a car in public places, like a Harbor Freight
parking lot or a gas station or even a police station. A lot of police stations will
even have a designated area for that type of thing where you can do Craig’s
List transactions. And that is a really good way to keep yourself from getting murdered. All right, so we’ll assume you got the
basic stuff out of the way like the title, maintenance, smog, all that kind of stuff. So now it’s time to inspect the car. And a big thing that
you’re gonna want to do while you’re inspecting the car is stack up bargaining chips. And what I mean bu bargaining chips are things that the car needs. Even if it’s stuff that you
don’t necessarily care about. Or stuff that you do. But for a negotiation’s sake, you need to stack up all the things that are wrong with the car and make it seem as bad as possible so you can get the best price possible. With all that said, it’s time to really
get into the inspection and we’re gonna start with the exterior. First off, obviously,
just walk around the car. Give it a nice once over. Make sure there is zero dents. Make sure the body’s in
perfect shape just like this. How’s the paint? What kind of condition is it in? Do you even care? Also it’s time to check the tires, see how much tread they have left, see if they’re starting
to dry rot or crack or if they look really old. While you’re at the
tires check the brakes. Take a look at the rotors, see if they look nice a flat or if they’re deeply
grooved and look very worn. Get an eyeball on the
brake pads too if you can and a flashlight can sometimes help. But you want to see how much
meat is left on the pad. If they’re nice and thick, great. If they’re not, it’s probably time to replace them. Check all the lights,
turn on the headlights, the hazards, the taillights. Whatever the car has you
need to make sure they work. Then pop the trunk, see if all the interior bits are there. Check for the spare tire. And if the car ever came with a toolkit, see if that’s there. It’s also a good time,
if it’s a convertible, to make sure that the
convertible top goes up and down. You’re gonna want to look
for any holes like that. And now it’s time to get
your head under the car to make sure the thing’s
not covered in rust. Check the brake lines and fuel lines, make sure they’re in good shape. Look at all the suspension bushings, make sure they’re not falling apart. Look for drips and leaks. This thing has good a lot
of wetness on the oil pan. That’s another bargaining chip. All right, that pretty
much covers the exterior. Now it’s time to get into the interior. All right so once you get in the car, first thing you should
do it (sharply inhales) take a deep breath in. How does it smell? Does it smell like mildew and mold? Are there any signs of water damage or any giant, big, gross stains? – [Eddie] Are there?
(giggling) – The general cleanliness
of the interior of a car is often a pretty good gauge of how it’s been treated by
whoever you’re buying it off of. What kind of shape is the
cloth or the leather in? Are the seats destroyed or not? Is there a radio? If there is does it work? Are the speakers blown? How does it sound? Push every single button in the car. Make sure the heat works or
the AC works if equipped. And check the dash. Are there any lights on on
the dash that shouldn’t be? If so it’s good idea to get them scanned ’cause it might not be a big deal. Might be a great bargaining chip. All right that pretty
much covers the interior so now it’s time for the fun stuff. Let’s pop the hood. (synth music) All right, so here in the
engine bay take a look around. What does it look like, how’s it make you feel? Is the condition overall
pretty good, pretty clean, or real gross? Are there a bunch of zip ties and a bunch of evidence
of some shoddy repairs or modifications from previous owners? If so kind of a red flag. It’s nice to get things
that are relatively stock. It’s a good idea to check the oil. Now listen, you’re gonna want
to give your new project car an oil change pretty much ASAP, but you need to check
what’s in there currently and make sure there’s no shiny
metal bits or grittiness. ‘Cause that doesn’t bode well
for the health of the engine. Check the coolant as well. Check the level, make sure there’s no oil floating in it. And check all your hoses and
all the rubbers under the hood. All that stuff is prone to
becoming brittle over time and breaking which is bad. You need to check your belts for general wear and tear and health. So you’re also gonna
want to ask the seller about the timing belt. And if he says “Huh,” then it’s probably time to replace it. All right so if everything
checks out in the engine bay and it doesn’t seem like
anything’s about to come apart, it’s time for the test drive. Does it start right up like that or does the battery sound weak like (makes weak revving noises). Put it in gear. Are there any grinds or weird noises? Do you have to force it in? Row through all the gears. How does it go? No problem, great. all right so first gear, start letting the clutch out, see how it feels. Nice and tight, no weird noises, no weird vibrations. Sweet. Now it’s a good time to test the brakes. They work, yes? Okay, good. So now let’s get up to
about 25 miles and hour on a nice flat road. And we’re gonna be listening
for any vibrations, any weird noises, rattles, clunks. Anything that seems out of place. So get going nice and straight. And let of the steering wheels. See if it pulls one way or the other. If it does you might
just need an alignment or you might need some
new suspension bits. You hear any weird noise
coming from the transmission or the engine now that it’s
up in the RPMs a little bit? What about the differential out back? Hear any clunks? Get on and off the gas a little bit. Sorry, Eddie. Does it make any weird
noises when you do that? How does it feel? Does the throttle feel
like it’s hesitating or does it feel like it’s actually attached
to the throttle body? Now let’s get up to a little bit faster. Let’s get up to highway speeds. You get up to about 60 miles an hour and feel for the same vibrations, feel for any rattles, or weird noises coming through the cabin. Especially through the steering wheel, the petals, and the seat. Your butt is a really good
indicator of how the car is. Go back and forth a little bit, do some zig zags, find some corners, test out the suspension. Do you have any clunks? Does anything feel out of place? It’s a really good idea
to try to hit some bumps so that you can really test the suspension and see how it acts when it hits bumps. If you’ve got worn out end links or control arms or bushings, bumps will kind of sort that stuff out and you’ll really get to
hear some weird noises. So take a look at the gauges after you’ve been driving for a minute. Does everything seem good? Is the tack working? Does the speedometer work? Is the coolant temp good? Are you overheating at all? Especially in Miatas, that’s a pretty common issue, overheating. And it’s basically a death certificate. So make sure the thing is not overheating. This has an oil pressure gauge. Make sure it has oil pressure. So listen, I know I just
said a lot of stuff, a lot of things to pay attention to and, and it’s probably more than you’re gonna be able to remember. I get it, it’s hard for me to remember
everything I just said. So I was thinking ahead. I made you guys a checklist
down in the description so you can take it with you or just pull it up on your phone whenever you go to look at a used car. Take the checklist with you and just check the boxes, baby. – [Eddie] We do it ’cause we love you. – We do it ’cause we
love you, that’s right. You might think you’re done at this point, but no, no, you are not. We’ve got a lot of stuff left to cover. (funky beat) Now this one’s gonna be case by case and not every seller is gonna
want to negotiate with you which is their dang right. But of course you want to
pick up your project car for as cheap as possible so you can have as much money left over
for mods as possible. So now it’s time to pull out all those bargaining chips
we’ve been talking about and dock as much money
as possible for them. So go over all the things
that need to be fixed and try to knock the price down. It’s also a good idea to be ready to take the
thing off their hands right then and there. I always show up with
cash because some sellers just want to get their
junk out of their hair and you can be the person
to take it off their hands. So I usually shoot for about 20% off and I’ll usually settle around 10% off. This Miata was listed at $2,900 and I took it for 25. Now I think that’s pretty good given that it’s a two-seat roadster that runs and drives with no real issues. I think that’s pretty awesome. All right, so now that
you’ve settled on a price, what’s next, how do you actually make it be officially, technically, legally yours? Well, I’ll tell you. So one of the first
things that you need to do is what’s called a bill of sale. Some states require it, some states don’t, and to be honest even in
states that do require it, I’ve never actually been asked for one. But it’s so easy to do that
you might as well just do it. There are three places basically that you can get a bill of sale from. You can check your state’s DMV or you can write one up
yourself just by hand. Or I made you one, the Donut bill of sale, you can download it from
the description below. So next up is the title transfer. This is probably the biggest part. The title is actually the piece of paper that officially assigns
ownership of a vehicle. So you need to get the
title put into your name. So now you got the title
sorted out, what’s next? You need to insure it. So call up your insurance
company or get on their app or what have you, and make sure that you get it insured. Because we can’t have any
uninsured drivers out there. So insure it, drive it home, very easy. So now it’s insured but it’s
not registered to you yet. So what do you do? Can you drive it unregistered? A lot of states just require
that you have it insured and that you have a bill of sale and you can prove that you
basically just bought it and that’s good enough for them. Some states that’s not okay, but in those case you can
generally purchase a permit that will allow you to
drive a car for a few days unregistered basically
for this exact thing. So congratulations, you just bought your very own project car. Are you done? No you are not. It’s time for the most
important part of all. You got to flex on everybody and put your new project car on Instagram. (upbeat music) Nah, but really, this is your kind of introduction
to your new community. You got to take some pictures of your car and put them on Instagram and
say hi to your new family. If you want to get better at
taking pictures of your car to put on Instagram, check out this episode of
Wheelhouse that Nolan did with Larry Chen and John
Jack Cirone, my roommate. So you’ve got a project car, you got it home, and you
posted it on your Instagram. I am so proud of you. But what’s next, what now? Is it time to mod? Not quite. Often overlooked but very important, it’s time to do some maintenance. So we’re gonna be replacing
all the belts, all the filters, and all the fluids on this little Miata. Like the most important fluid of all, your motor oil. When you’re changing the oil on any car, whether it’s a project
or your daily driver, it’s important to go with
a high quality motor oil. And that’s why we’ve chosen
Mobil 1 to sponsor this episode. Mobil 1 advanced synthetic motor oils are designed to keep
important engine parts in excellent condition for 250,000 miles. Compared to conventional oils, Mobil 1 motor oils offer
outstanding performance and a long-lasting protection. Mobil 1 synthetic oils
are specially formulated by a dedicated team of
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road and track testing go into each bottle of Mobil 1 motor oil. So guys, visit the
nearest Auto Zone to you or click the link in the description below to find the right high-quality Mobil 1 synthetic oil for you. Now seriously, if you’ve got a car, it’s gonna need an oil change. So you might as well support the sponsors that help us make these videos, because without them we couldn’t do it. Thanks for watching.

About the Author: Michael Flood

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