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Pre-loved or not pre-loved

I’ve been stalking used cars ads looking for just the right late model VW Rabbit. I have some time before I’ll be ready to pull the trigger but I’d like some peoples advice on what would be the added value of VW’s pre-owned warranty, if any? The car I would buy would most likely have some of the original manufacture warranty anyway.

Also, I am highly suspicious of used cars sitting on dealer lots. I consider them damaged goods, either off-lease cars that no-one cared about (I shared a cube with a guy that always leased and couldn’t care enough to change the motor oil), or the car is a lemon and the person couldn’t wait to trade it in for something else. Am I off base on this thinking?

No, you are not off base in your thinking. We’ve debated this ad-nauseum, and are not all in agreement, but I generally feel that a car that’s only a few years old and is already on the lot MUST be there for a reason. The odds IMHO are not good.

Rental cars being sold off are a different story. They, IMHO, are a good bet. But I don’t think they generally get Rabbits, so that may be a bit tough to find.

I’d never buy an extended warranty. I’d rather have the money in the bank…my bank, not a warranty company’s.

Not familiar with the VW pre-owned or certified warranty, but if it isn’t free, I would decline. Better off spending for a good mechanic evaluation of your intended purchase.

In today’s economic times, cars sitting on the lot are not so rare. Two years ago I got a really nice F350 crew cab because the owner wanted to get rid of the V10 gas guzzler, and it sat for about six months before I purchased it. When I got it, it did not look like the back seat had been used, and the front seats and carpet were in very good shape. Can’t say that now. It suits my needs and I have put 20K+ miles on it so far with no issues. Paying attention to the car given the car as shown by appearance and maintenance records will help you find a winner, but let a pro look at its mechanical condition.

I understand your perspective, but the last five rentals I have had were overdue for oil changes (at the 5K to 7.5K oil change intervals, not 3K), and ten years ago I don’t think any rental I had was that way. To me, the rental car companies seem to be “cheaping” out on maintenance, turning the cars around without regard to the service requirements. I know that some items like tune ups don’t have to be done as often, but I have to wonder about all the other maintenance issues that might come with the car.

Realize my experience could be an anomaly, but…

Good point. A new vehicle that has sat unsold for a time, or is in the gas guzzler category (notice, however, that he’s looking at Rabbits), is a good bet. I immediately thought of very late model used vehicles and wrote my response around that.

You may be right, but I persoanally still feel it’s a better bet than a few-year-old vahicle that was privately owned and is again for sale. I have no data to back that feeling, it’s just a gut impression.

There are lots of used vehicles that end up on dealer (and other) lots because the lease has run out and they were turned in. If you check the dates out through carfax you can often see that they were on the road for 24, 30 or 36 months, the usual length of a lease. Yes, the maintenance might have been ignored, but there is not much beyond oil changes that are due before 3 years or 36,000 miles on most newer cars. In my limited knowledge, dealers keep and resell really nice lease returns, and wholesale the ones that are damaged or somehow not desirable, and that’s the source of “certified” used cars.

Wow - Thanks to everyone for all the feedback!
I’ve been checking out of all the free carfax reports, though these are only offered by dealers - VW and others - and I have noticed that some have a lot more info then others. And a couple of cars that I questioned why they weren’t being not resold by a VW dealer, like cars with 10-20K miles. I’m also confused at the number of 2008 used cars out there, though maybe that’s just a sign of this economy.
Has anyone tried calling a dealership to request more detailed records for repairs/maintenance that pop up in carfax? I’m not sure how that would play out, but before I bought my current car I called the dealership where the car was maintained. After a quick review with someone over the phone, buying the car was a no-brainer. I did this however at the request of the owner, I’m not sure how someone calling out of the blue would be handled.

I know people that trade their car in every 2 years just because they are tired of it. On of them has owned a series of Lexuses. Why’d they bother? Almost any car will last 2 years, and they are all still under warranty. And there are responsible people that lease for business reasons. Being responsible is just their nature. Of course, you need to be careful if you buy from a dealer. My parents bought a used car from a Cadillac dealer and it was the best car we ever had.

If the car was maintained there @ the dealer, they might be able to pull up a service history summary for it.

You’re doing good investing your time before you invest your $.

However, investing in an independent inspection would be $ well spent. If you have been going to your mechanic for a while now, chances are he/she won’t even charge you.

My wife’s Caravan was a rental from Orlando and it’s been virtually problem free, so I am leaning toward picking up another rental. If anyone is going to take the time to do an oil change it’s them.
BTW - I’ve found this site and have spent more time searching here then anywhere else. It’s great because they carry a wide variety of vehicles and if you find one with all the options you want you can have it shipped to your area - for a fee of course.
http://www.enterprisecarsales.com/carsales/usedCarFinder.do

I know people that trade their car in every 2 years just because they are tired of it. On of them has owned a series of Lexuses. Why’d they bother? Almost any car will last 2 years, and they are all still under warranty.

I know a guy who buys two new Accords every other year. When he trades them in they only have about 15k miles on them. Says he gets bored with them…Which I don’t understand…if he’s bored then why buy the same car.