Caveat Emptor? (Never Buy From A Friend?)



Okay, I bought a used Bronco from a friend. I figured, “We’ve known each other for ten years, and he’s an honest mechanic, so he wouldn’t sell me a crappy car.” Well, of course, I paid top bluebook, and have spent $3500 in repairs over the last 18 months. Was I foolish to expect a “friend” to sell me a reliable, no-problem car? (all of the repairs were for existing problems-- I didn’t have a mechanic check the car – as suggested by Tom and Ray-- because the car was owned by an “honest mechanic”).


Bronco’s have not been produced since 1996. So having $3500 in repairs on an at least 12 year old vehicle is nothing out of the ordinary. Sorry about your woes.


i want to buy a jeep ragtop for summer driving, but this is EXACTLY the problem i am worried about. a vehicle which is designed (and most likely used) for off road and 4 wheel use is by definition and practice going to have severe wear. this wear needs repair. especially since yours is so old.

by the way caveat emptor means BUYER beware. not seller be honest. actually it specifically means that the buyer is responsible, not the seller. nothing like honesty in the marketplace huh?!


I expect repairs on a '96… what bugged me is that he said “It’s in excellent condition” and I paid top dollar, based upon his statement, and my trust of him, because I stupidly thought, “A mechanic’s vehicle will be better maintained than some goofball’s ride… and he knows me!”. BTW, the Bronco was never used off-road, but driven around town, by his wife. The repairs were all “regular maintenance items”-- ball joints, battery, brakes-- that I thought were okay when I bought the truck. If he had said, “The truck needs work… so I’ll knock two thousand off the price…” then I would have felt better. Or, if I had paid low bluebook, then I would have had an extra two thou to pay for the repairs. I guess my main point was: he is my friend, he told me the truck was in “excellent” condition, and all the repairs/ problems existed when he sold me the Bronco… so, I’m wondering, “Should I trust him anymore?”.


In this case caveat emptor means “you need gas”. The needle is on emptor. Two lessons here. Don’t buy a mechanics car and don’t buy the wife’s car because neither type of vehicle ever gets fully maintained. If an old Bronco doesn’t have a maintenance history then you can bet that it has had no maintenance. If you have the Bronco II, don’t drive onto the soft shoulder on a narrow road to make room unless you slow down to 10 MPH or it could flip end to end on you. It isn’t your friend’s fault that the Bronco II isn’t known for reliability or for lasting forever with no payment to the piper; it was designed to be that way. It wasn’t built by the regular car company; it was made by Ford Stucco and Adobe Molders.


you bought an old bronco (without stating mileage/year) and you’re referring to wear items and 18 months of ownership to boot.
so were all of these “wear” items repaired the week after purchasing the vehicle or within the last 6 months?

when referring to vehicles the condition is always subjective. one person’s idea of excellent may be another’s average.


I don’t consider brakes and a battery any big deal and would be normal wear items like belts, hoses, tires, etc. I think the only way you get a car that isn’t going to need some items is on a new one.


And even then, what with all the recalls that seem to happen…


Don’t let a car ruin a friendship. Like others said everyone has a different interpretation of excellent condition. I imagine the interior/exterior was in excellent condition which he may have meant, the rest he may have just fixed as needed (typical for anybody in a trade).


$3500 for ball joints, battery, and brakes?? That WAY high.

As for buying a car owned by a mechanic, the old saying about the cobbler’s children going barefoot comes to mind. As you have discovered, there is no guarantee that a mechanic fully maintains his own vehicles (although the ones I worked with years ago always did).


I agree with Bing - battery and brakes - you expect to have to replaced. I’m curious though… brakes, battery and Ball joints don’t add up to $3,500.00 (not at my mechanics shop anyway) - what else did you have done? And did your “honest mechanic” reccomend and do the work?


As other pointed out, the Bronco was not a great car; not even a good getaway car for Simpson!

I would sell my car to a friend under the following conditions only:

  1. I would state all things that could potentially go wrong in the next 2 years.

  2. I would give the friend all the repair and maintenance records.

  3. I would charge him/her about 3/4 of the Blue Book Value.

Any person who would do otherwise, I would not call a friend.


What if he charged 7/8 of the Blue Book value?

Friendship - as in most things in life is not black and white. Don’t write off you mechanic friend just yet. But learn from the experience.


I would never sell a car to a friend or family as your setting yourself up for disappointment. I also would never loan any money to friend or family unless I was okay with not getting paid back.