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2008 MX-5 Miata purchase - get it inspected?

Hi folks,

I’m looking into buying a used 2008 MX-5 Miata from a private seller who can’t make the payments anymore. There is a lien on the car and I got the impression that the owner took very good care of the car. If you were in my position, looking to buy a car under warranty that looks excellent, would you take it to a mechanic for inspection? I’m wondering how difficult it could be to notice if the car has been damaged in some way but not reported to the insurance company (and hence, carfax). Any thoughts on this? It’s my first time buying a car from a private seller.

Thank you!

elcuc0

I always do the following on any car I am purchasing (under warranty or not):

  1. Run a carfax
  2. Take the VIN to the dealer and run the service report
  3. Have it inspected
  4. Compare asking price to Kelly Blue Book and NADA and never pay more than trade-in value (especially in today’s economy)

The above are few cheap piece-of-mind.

Hope this helps.
Twotone

I will second twotone’s advice.

A mechanic’s inspection is never a bad idea. A good inspection should show any signs of repairs. Even if there had been a minor repair and the signs where not clearly visible, then its nothing to worry about.

Miata owners tend to take care of their cars.

The site for Miata info: http://forum.miata.net/vb/index.php?

That is a good sensible list twotone.

In addition to the other good advice that you have been given, I want to add another perspective.

Consider this:
If the car’s owner can’t afford to make the payments, isn’t it also possible that he started cheaping out on maintenance?

Yes, I know that the car is very new, but since all maintenance procedures have both odometer mileage limits and elapsed time limits, and since failure to maintain the car according the “the book” can void warranty coverage, I would strongly suggest that you ask for this guy’s maintenance receipts.

Compare the car’s current odometer mileage and the date to the receipts, and use the Mazda maintenance schedule (it should be sitting in the glove compartment) to be sure that everything is in compliance with Mazda’s schedule and that all required procedures have been done. If you cannot verify compliance, then you have to assume that you could be denied warranty coverage in the event of a problem.

Yes, I am sure that the car is in great shape–at least visually–but if its maintenance has been ignored, it will have consequences later on. If the car’s owner tell you that he doesn’t keep his maintenance receipts, you should be very suspicious.

When I sell a car, I provide every maintenance receipt as well as a chart that I use to keep track of maintenance on the car. While most people are not as obsessive as I am on this topic, I would still be wary of a car whose owner can’t produce maintenance records.

Another point – since it is a relatively new car and being financed the owner may be upside down and owe more than it’s worth. Trade-in value could be significantly lower than the payoff. If it is, then keep looking.

Twotone

Why not visit a Mazda dealership and buy a leftover 08 model that’s been sitting on the lot for a little while? You’re likely to get better results that way.