Is it safe buying a car that would go to wholesale?

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#1

I am a graduate student trying to buy decent car for around $5000 (reliability is the most important thing for me). Unfortunately I am in a tiny city and not too many people are selling decent used cars on craigslist. There is a “used car overstock” place close to where I live which, every month, turns over vehicles to wholesalers, although they do sell some of them retail.

If I found a car at this place (or others like it), would a pre-sale inspection and a trip to a body shop give me enough information to know whether the car was in good condition? Or would I be taking a big risk?


#2

If it was in good condition it would have been kept by the trade-in dealer and would now be for sale on their lot.
Most trade-ins and repos that go to wholesale do so because of the potential of needing more work than the vehicle could recover at sale.
Sometimes it’s simply a numbers game, sometimes it’s a bad omen.

Since you’re not buying the car to resell it is now simply a matter of the bottom line of purchase price+repairs+future potential. If you see a vehicle that has a basic good feeling about it , have it checked over and you might just get something good enough in the end.
But watch out, it would not be my first choice. ( 30 year Ford dealer parts man )

Check first for it being mechanically sound. You may choose to live with some of the cosmetics that would have raised the price for a dealer sale prep like dents, scratches, fading paint, no radio, iffy tires etc but the major drive train components could break you later.


#3

In the price range you give, you are either going to get an older model car with low mileage or a newer one with high mileage. Many of the cars that go to wholesale are high mileage cars. If you put 30 to 35K miles on a car per year then you have a 2 to 3 year old car with 70 to 100K miles.

I drove company cars over 30K miles per year for about 25 years. Since the company paid for all the maintenance I kept my cars in good shape. Not all company high mileage drivers are like me, but some are. Don’t be too put off by high miles as many are highway miles that don’t take too much out of a car. If complete service records are available, I always kept mine, and you have the car inspected you can get a good car.

I’d check out the cars on the lot you mentioned. It can’t hurt to look. If you find one you like in your price range, have the inspections done and perhaps you’ll find your car.


#4

In this case, a higher mileage car would be a good thing. That is, high mileage for the year of manufacture. Dealers will sell cars to the overstock business that they don’t think they can sell easily. That includes higher mileage. It could be that high mileage is the only thing wrong with it. But you need to check the car first. If they let your mechanic look at it, then consider it. Otherwise, it could be more of a risk than you amy want to take.


#5

Yes but check it over REAL good.
Turn key to 1st click and make sure check engine comes on, a trick some pull to hide codes.
Pull up some carpet and look and take a stick with a rag on it and put it up floor heater vent to look for flood damage.Yes they are still out there.
Theres many reasons lots take cars to auctions, not all bad.


#6

One reason that new car dealers wholesale an older car is that after a certain age, an older car doesn’t have loan value. The purchaser must arrange his/her own financing. Back in 1978 my Dad had a nice 1973 Cutlass S. I had a 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber (sporty model with bucket seats, vinyl seats, etc.) My Dad was trading for a 1978 Buick. I thought about trading cars with him because I really liked his Cutlass. The dealer offered a good trade-in for the new Buick for the Cutlass, but he wouldn’t give a very good allowance for the Maverick. The difference between the dealer’s offer for the Cutlass and the Maverick didn’t make trading cars with my Dad worthwhile. The manager showed me the reason–the Cutlass had one more year of loan value and he coud finance the car. The Maverick had no loan value even though it was in excellent condition. I don’t know what the cut-off point is today, but this is one reason why cars that are good transportation values go to the auction. After a car reaches a certain point, if a major repair is necessary, the owner may just walk away from the car and the loan.
There are used car dealers that buy up cars from the auction for resale. They carry the financing and have ways we won’t go into to collect from the purchaser. Stay away from these places.

As a graduate student, you may want to check bulletin boards on campus. There are often professsors going on leave who are trying to sell a car, or a graduate student who needs to sell a car. Check around.