All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service

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How to Buy A Used Subaru

In the last few weeks we have seen an alarming number of customers purchase a used Subaru without following some of the important steps necessary to make sure the car is worth the investment and that they are getting what they are paying for.  So we have decided to put together some tips when looking for a “new to you” used Subaru that should help ease the process.
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Washington State’s laws and regulations regarding new and used vehicle purchases is pretty lacking in my opinion.  What is practiced is a “buyers beware” policy, this means that once you have signed for and taken possession of a new or used vehicle it is your vehicle and any problems that it has are yours as well.  Washington State does have a lemon law in place, but the number of vehicles that actually qualify for buy back under the lemon law is very low.  Washington State does not have a right of rescission law in place. For some reason a lot of buyers falsely assume that if they buy this car today they can have it inspected tomorrow and simply take it back if there are problems found within a three day period.  But that is just not always the case.

Buying a used car can be both an exciting and frustrating prospect.  But following the steps below will ensure you will get value for your money and not just a shinny new car.

1. When buying a car from a private party, used car lot, or the used car division of a new car dealership always have the vehicle inspected prior to buying the car. If the seller won’t allow this to happen don’t buy that car. There are so many choices out there that it just doesn’t make sense to panic buy under stress, fearing that you won’t find another car or a better deal.
2. Take the emotion out of the process as much as possible.  Don’t become attached to the car you are looking at until it has been inspected and proven worthy of purchase.  A common pitfall is to fall in love with a shinny used car to soon and than become bummed when it doesn’t check out as a good sound purchase for you.
3. Be wary of deals that are written “subject to customer having an inspection” There is no reason to agree to this and sometimes there are hidden clauses in this type of contract that commit you to purchase even if you don’t want the car after having it inspected.  A seller, selling a good product should have no trouble letting you have it inspected with no strings attached.  This goes double if the car is at a used car lot or new car dealer.
4. Carfax reports can’t be relied on in every case! Here is how Carfax works, they compile information about a vehicle and bundle it in a nice clean report.  This means that if the vehicle was in an accident and either law enforcement wrote a report or an insurance company paid a claim that information will be found on a Carfax report.  But what is commonly lost in this is that there are lot of reconstructed cars out on the road that never have a police report filed or an insurance company claim.  Here is a common scenario, someone who doesn’t have full coverage insurance gets into some sort of an accident usually involving alcohol, and an inanimate object such as a tree.  The police are not called to the scene as the driver does not want to subject themselves to a DUI.  The car is taken to a body shop where the driver is given an estimate that they can not afford.  The body shop buys the car from the driver for a song.  The body shop than repairs the car and sells it without the car ever generating a report that Carfax would know about. If the body shop is a good one, they will fix the car right. But if we are talking about one of many less than reputable “chop shops” you may be buying a vehicle that isn’t safe. We have seen vehicles come into the shop without airbags put back in, or frame rails that are bent and not repaired properly. While Carfax is a great resource it should not be relied upon alone. If you run a Carfax report and it shows up as a total salvage or has a reconstructed title.  You should most likely stay away if you are not comfortable buying that kind of vehicle. If the report is clean you should still have the vehicle inspected and not rely on the report alone.
5. All inspections are not created equal. Having a shop that doesn’t know much about the car you are buying really doesn’t make much sense.  Buying a car is usually a negotiation and things found during the inspection can be negotiated off of the price of the car or done at no cost to you as part of the deal. If the shop inspecting the car isn’t all that familiar with the vehicle they may not know what to look for as far as typical problems the car may have and if those problems have been addressed in the past or may be future problems that must be taken into account when deciding to buy the car.  This is where All Wheel Drive Auto can serve you well, knowing Subaru’s as well as we do we can help you avoid the wrong car.
6. Make sure it passes an emissions test.  In the state of Washington if you live in an area where vehicles are tested for emissions.  The car will have to pass a test before the title can be transferred if you are buying a vehicle from a private party and the car hasn’t been tested recently.  Buying a car that wont pass can be very frustrating and expensive and once again falls into the “buyers beware” trap that we see a lot of customers fall into.
7. When buying a Subaru from a Ford dealership or any other brand of car dealer for that matter stop and ask your self “how much does this service department really know about this car”.  Most new car dealers selling used vehicles will inspect the car prior to selling it.  While this is a good starting point it is only that, a starting point.  A trace of green coolant on the cross member of a Subaru may not mean much to the average Technician inspecting the car but to someone that knows the car well this could be the start of a very expensive repair forthcoming

Buying a used Subaru should be a great experience for you. If you are a informed consumer we think you will make a great decision on which car is right for you. Only buy a Subaru with the piece of mind that a good inspection can add.

Justin Stobb

All Wheel Drive Auto

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