How big of a rip off are "Buy here, pay here" car lots?


I am sure there are plenty of people who assistance who don’t make it obvious to everyone and aren’t parasitic to society. It is just the bad apples that really stick out. I have had my life threatened multiple times for not returning equipment when customers refused to pay. They were ALWAYS this type. Unfortunately you get pretty biased pretty quick when some nut threatens to kill you. I am sure you can understand me wanting to just avoid them altogether.

I do work for other service businesses and we all have the same stories. I have worked for many auto mechanics, plumbers, HVAC, electricians, and other trades that routinely have to deal with the general public. They tell the same stories and all dread the times of the month when the government assistance benefits come out. A lot of this comes out around the 1st few days of the month and that is when the real winners come out of the woodwork.

I am all for helping people but only if they are willing to help themselves and not pull the nonsense we have all experienced due to the bad ones. A few new homeless shelters and assistance centers have opened up in the area. One opened up downtown. The amount of trash and feces since this started is quite bad. Right now we seem to be in a lull for this bad stuff. Apparently the city got after the shelter because of all the problems and complaints so they weeded out some of the bad apples and sent them down the road to be a problem elsewhere. Businesses put up “No Trespassing” and “No Loitering” signs when this came to town.

Apparently one of the commonly requested donations at these shelters is camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, coolers, and chairs. Well, these camps have been popping up out in the woods or along the local rivers. I have come across multiples of these. The people just abandon EVERYTHING when they move along, leaving a massive trash pile. The sad part is that a lot of that camping gear was basically new when it was left out in the woods to rot. Sure, it wasn’t top of the line stuff but any working family would be happy to have it to take their kids on camping trips. Instead it is just left to rot since the recipients know they can get new stuff at the next shelter they go to and it is easier to leave it rather than take it with them.

I called the local forestry office and brought this up to them. They were well-aware and said it was a routine problem for them and that it was too bad most of this otherwise decent camping gear went to waste so frequently. Guess who picks this up? ME! I filled an old tent up with trash this last weekend, dragged it across a small river, and hauled this mess out in the back of my truck. There was also a bunch of old clothing as well that looks like it was basically new before they left it to rot out in the elements.

I am all for helping people but have a problem when they work the system and aren’t willing to help themselves,


Buddy of mine at work chooses to go for the cheap used truck route(mostly older Dodge trucks) and is only 2 or 3 vehicles away from needing to apply for a dealership license for his home. He recently bought a 2001 Ram with a rusty body to use the transmission out of to fix the bad transmission in his 97 Ram, but it’s not really compatible with his 97.

Yeah, he’s doing the work himself, but he’s also constantly buying a different truck to fix one of his other trucks


For grins and giggles, you should donate that clothing back to a homeless shelter


I thought about doing that along with all the rotted and moldy tents and sleeping bags! I would do it as they sat and not clean them one bit. how about the truckload of trash I had piled into that tent as well? The people who enable this should be aware of the mess they are causing.

We have the panhandlers along the sides of roads as well. People think they are helping them but they might as well be handing them a bottle of booze or a hit of whatever they are taking when they give them that cash. They are simply allowing them to continue the same bad behavior. I always like to pick my charities carefully and try to do veterans ones if I can. I would much rather give to a charity than some random person on the street.

As for the cars, I know people who go the ultra cheap car route. Some do great and get dependable cars in the $300-500 range and drive them for years. They are great beater cars if there is such a thing and they spend very little money on them but change the oil and such. They hold up and they are usually sick of them and sell them for a profit in a couple years. They then move onto the next cheap car. On the other hand I know people who buy these things and they are nothing but money pits. One guy had one where the transmission dumped all the fluid out on the exhaust soon after purchase. There was a massive smoke cloud but no fire. That car was done for though as the transmission was toast. One decided to fire on only half the cylinders and send lots of unburned fuel out the exhaust where it would combust in a shotgun backfire every few seconds. Of course this was maybe getting a couple miles to the gallon and was quite the attention getter. The exhaust system was finally blown apart and the backfiring stopped although the fumes were just atrocious. We do not have emissions testing here so I guess it slid by. The guy hated that car so much by that time that no maintenance was done from that point on. He drove it until the engine seized when it ran low on oil because he never checked the level. This was some big boat and it reminded me of the car in Uncle Buck. This guy actually had a few cheap cars that started out decent but he never did anything to them. Seemed to have the idea that they were so cheap as to be considered a disposable. Unfortunately he made that a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Buying an ultra cheap car can be a great way to save money or an absolute nightmare that can cost you money. You just have to know how to give a car like this a good look over before purchase. At least it doesn’t cost a lot of money to walk away from on the side of the road as it burns to the ground if that is what happens…


Back when I had to stick to ultra-cheap cars, I went the old used Honda route. Very rarely had problems, and it was even more rare that a problem was expensive.

The Dodge truck route is a bit more chancy, unless it’s an old D50 - those are rebadged Mitsubishis and as I can attest from having one, they’re really, really hard to kill.


@cwatkin, you’re working pretty hard at making sure the thread gets closed. Please try to stick to the car stuff. And while you may have these observations from your own business experience, we get a lot of posts from people who are on those fixed incomes and disability who are trying to figure out how to keep their cars on the road. It was said above, but there are a lot of people with money who cut corners and screw people, too. Let’s not speak so generally.


Sorry. I am sure there are plenty of people with money who screw people. It sounds like the BHPH lots are a prime example. On the other hand there are people who are poor for a reason and it is their attitude in dealing with others. I have unfortunately had some pretty bad experiences with this type.

Yes, I I agree with keeping an old car on the road if it is safe and have a few “beaters” myself. As for the older import trucks, they seem pretty solid overall if you don’t let rust kill them. That was their weak point. The rest of the things keep running as the body falls off! On the other hand anything Chrysler had much of a role in is probably not an economical older car. They just don’t tend to last.


Nope, his range from 1997 to 2004 Ram pickups. His 2004 he paid $400 for that had been abused towing more weight than it should have been and had something like 10~15 quarts of oil in the crank case when he brought it home- it had so much that the oil overfilled the drain tub under the truck and spilled out into the yard. It has transmission issues where he’s replaced the transmission computer and even the main computer in the truck and STILL has problems with it going into limp mode while he’s slowing down from highway speeds. He’s pretty sure it’s the solenoids, but he doesn’t have enough money right now to buy them and replace them.

And to be somewhat on topic, he says he’s pretty well known at a local BHPH lot, too.


Why was the oil that overfilled? Is there an oil/transmission cooler that could be allowing the fluids to mix? Maybe that would explain this as well as the transmission issues.

I actually bought a non-running car from a BHPH lot once. I had forgotten about that. I paid $500 cash which was probably too much, considering, but I wanted that particular car so it was worth it. They had to tow it to my place and I had to wait for someone to show up with a rollback. Anyway, they were sharing their stories. I told them that they should go slightly more upscale to avoid the problems they described. Apparently the inconvenience was worth it because they are still a BHPH lot. I would say they are probably ripping people off based on some of the cars on the lot. I bought a basically junk car from them. The rest of the running ones were arguably worse.

A new clutch fixed the main problem of it not driving but there were lots of other little issues to fix as well.


From what he says, the truck was used to tow more weight than it should have been allowed to on several occasions. I think oil kept being added to cover something else up in the engine


I am sure it is just the cheats who stand out. I guess I am so negative because I basically had $3000 stolen by someone of this type recently. I won’t go into gory details but they might as well had a gun to my head, except the perpetrator didn’t get anything out of the deal. In fact he lost money but I lost a lot more. They just wasted a bunch of my time and caused a few key appointments to be cancelled which cost me a bunch of money. This was all over something piddly and they just couldn’t be made to understand. Anyway, I have taken steps and hired an attorney to make sure nothing like this happens again and if it does, the perpetrator will be liable. Again, that attorney costs me money… This was just one example. I don’t keep track of all of them but time is money in my business and these people end up costing me big money when I am pretty swamped with work. I don’t typically have these problems with people who work for a living. Lower end people are the ones who want to pay the least and demand the most. There are certain phrases they use that sends me the other direction and fast.

I am more than happy to serve people if they aren’t rich but they need to treat me with respect. Many are downright abusive and this just isn’t OK. I view that type as no better than a conniving criminal. No one should be forced to provide service to irrational, irate, or threatening customers. Many businesses around here have signs stating this. I have personally eliminated services from my business that attract problematic customers. Gaming consoles are the number one example of this. I have also eliminated small services and have a minimum service time because people would have me do the most basic repairs to get them back on the road so to speak but leave other major issues unsolved because they didn’t want to pay. They would then become upset when that problem became a show stopper for them and I charged more money to come out again. Eliminating services that allow people to “band-aid” something and not fix is right has streamlined my business as well.

As for cars, my cheap car of choice is the Geo Metro or Suzuki Swift of the style the Metro is based upon. They are exceedingly simple and easy to work on. They are also very reliable if cared for. Body rust kills these though in the rust belt. The engine tolerances are tight so they are not forgiving to neglect either. I have changed engines and transmissions in these myself. No hoist or anything else is required. I can just lift them out of the engine bay and set a new one in. You just put a jack and block of wood under the oil pan. You raise and lower the jack to get everything aligned so you can bolt it back together. I could swap an engine or transmission in a parking lot or on the side of the road in one of these. I changed a timing belt on the side of the road in an hour once. This is the ultimate cheap car if you ask me.

I was thinking about the equivalent of a PHPH lot in my business of computers. Yes, there is one here in town. A guy basically takes your old computer in on trade and sells you a new one for $150 no matter how bad of a condition your old one is in. I have worked on these before and they are usually the type of person that you would expect at a BHPH car lot. The systems are patched together with tape, black nail polish to cover scratches, and all that good stuff. The cheapest and lowest quality aftermarket parts are used on any of the repairs and these tend to fail rather quickly. Most of these were not good computers from the start and are just the cheapest crap from Wal-Mart, Black Friday sales, and such. I am sure he got them for nothing or close to it and now has a revolving door of this junk stock to sell people and rip them off. He will take your old laptop and give you a new fixed on for $150 no matter what. It could be a virus (easy fix) or a drink spill (often good for parts only) but he will get you a working computer for $150, no questions asked. As stated, I am not impressed with the end result and it just guarantees the person will have to come back for another one not long after purchase much like has been described with BHPH car lots. I guess he is filling a niche similar to the one served by BHPH car lots but not one I have any desire to fill.


I don’t like people unknowingly being taken advantage of either. I didn’t read all the lengthy comments, but what came to mind is when I went to a ball game and ordered a hot dog, Coke, and maybe something else and I had to pull out a second $20 bill to pay for it. Was I taken advantage of since I could have gone down the street and gotten the same for $5? No. They were there when I needed them and I was quite willing to pay their asking price (although a little surprised). That’s how they make money and that’s how I get what I want. People beware, case closed, now I’m hungry.


To remain in any business making a profit is necessary and I was relatively profitable in the auto repair business for many years and found it necessary to avoid the ‘gamers’ who seem to plague service businesses regularly. An old retired mechanic from long ago told me that when he got in the business in the 1940s he noticed an X scratched on the under side of the hood of a car occasionally. He mentioned it to the parts store manager who told him that was the mark to turn down the work put on by any of the old regular shop owners to warn his friends who were competition warning that the owner was a pain to deal with. In my years all I had to deal with the problem was my best intuition. And selling abandoned cars left by losers was sometimes a costly problem when my intuition failed me.


This is a problem in ANY industry, no matter if it is auto repair or something else. In order to be successful you must avoid troublesome people. Airline pilots due not fly right through storms. They go around them. The same is true for anyone who wants to survive in business. You don’t deal with those who don’t pay and those that cause drama and trouble for you. You avoid them.

Yeah, I used to get a lot of abandoned equipment as well before I started requiring money upfront. Odds were that I could never sell it for what I had in it as it was junk to begin with. I donated some as a tax write off and junked the rest as scrap metal. The owner wanted me to repair it and hoped I would give it back for free or a reduced cost to cut my losses. I don’t play that game and think word spreads among that class of people as well. This is a good thing if you ask me because it further filters out the nonsense.

I can understand why businesses that serve this type of client have to charge more because there is higher risk. On the other hand the blatant ripping off of people who miss a payment or are a day late is not OK. As someone said, you and I can do this and it is no big deal. With others it isn’t so OK.