OT Buying a used vehicle

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Generally speaking repos are NOT a good deal, because when they can't afford to make payments the generally also do not look after maintenance. Personally I would be quite leary of buying a repo more than a year old. I generally buy low mileage 5 year old trade-ins for my cars. My trucks? Whatever I can get cheap in good condition. My current truck - a Ford Ranger - was an exceptionally well kept16 year old truck with 307,000km on it that needed a clutch release cyl and had a cracked windshield. Other than that you could have set it on the showroom floor. Anyone would have believed 30,700km. It's up oer 320,000km now coming up 2 years later - and the only issue I've had is a squeaky u-joint - so I replaced them both. Paid $1500 for it, with box liner and cap - appeared to never have carried a load. I added A/C this summer.

For the little mileage you put on, find a good larger car - one that has poor resale due to poorer fuel mileage. Get one in excellent nick, with low mileage and you have a car for the rest of your driving life.
My wife's "new" car was purchaced just over 2 years ago -2002 Ford Taurus - had 58000km on it - looked like brand new -bought it "as traded" - but safetied, from a local Ford dealer, They had sold it new and serviced if since new - the old gal who owned it decided she was going to have ONE MORE brand new car in her life. Cost us $6500 and the only thing we've spent on it in 23000km is a set of tires and oil changes. The last couple I've purchaced that way we have kept for 12 years. Sold the one for $1700 when I was finished with it, and scrapped the other one (body rust).
What ever you do - DO have your mechanic look it over before you buy it. I'm a semi-retired "wrench" myself, so I just check it over closely myself - I know what to look for.

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I would not personally get a repo. If they couldn't afford the payments they probably aren't very responsible and probably didn't keep up on the maintenance.
People sell vehicles for all sorts of reasons. In the case of a truck it could be that they had a baby and need something better for a baby seat. Or it was the husband's vehicle and he died. Or it's an elderly person and they can no longer drive. And of course as you mentioned, some people just do trade in every 2 or so years. I know people like that.
Should be no problem taking a vehicle to your mechanic if you are serious about buying it. Any dealer would allow you to do this and if buying from the owner and they won't let you, then look somewhere else.
When I have gotten a vehicle, I usually look at Consumer Reports to see which ones had recalls or problems. Sometimes this information didn't even come out until after I purchased. Like leaks, rust or brake problems. Or the Ford Windstar I am now driving that has had so many recalls since I got it, I lost track of the count!
I have been lucky with my last four vehicles. This one and the last one were purchased from my BIL who is a mechanic and sells used vehicles. Alas he lives in PA and I now live in WA so not likely we will get any more from him.
Prior to that, I bought one from my trusted mechanic. For a time, they sold 2 or 3 used cars at any given time. That car was super reliable and needed nothing aside from routine maintenance. I sold it years later for about what I paid for it.
Prior to that I got a 74 Dodge Dart that I heard about from a neighbor. His friend was selling it. We knew of rust damage which we fixed and it was also repainted. And two weeks after I got it, it threw a rod and the engine blew. My mechanic said it was one of those fluke things. Nobody could have predicted it. After those things were fixed, no major problems and once again I sold it for almost what I paid for it.
Only car I had that was a real lemon was the 70 Maverick. And I think they all were. I was lucky to get it to run for two weeks straight without needing some sort of repair. And to do the inherent brake problem, it was three different colors when I sold it. This after I had it immediately repainted. In other words, I kept hitting stuff because it wouldn't stop! And I had to put on new body parts.
So... What I have learned is... Don't bother to buy something that needs painted. Even if I don't like the color, just live with it. Paint is expensive and you might not get a good paint job. Which is what happened to me. The paint chipped off. So it wasn't worth it. And don't buy something that already has known rust on it. Now if you live on the East Coast, some rust might be inevitable as they use salt there on the roads. No salt here in WA so our vehicles shouldn't rust.
I prefer to buy a used vehicle that is 2-4 years old. Enough time has gone by that the price should be pretty affordable and you will know of any known problems inherent to that vehicle.
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Often those are the best ones to buy if you know the history. A friend bought several cars from a dealer over the years that were about 2 years old and had very low milage on them. They belonged to a wife of an exective of a large company. They were traded in just because someone of that social status did not want to be seen driving a car older than about 2 years. The cars had way less than 10,000 miles on them, had been serviced by the book and in a garage most of the time.
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On Monday, February 17, 2014 12:09:11 PM UTC-5, KenK wrote:

If you find a vehicle you like, get the VIN and check it out at carfax.com; you get a report that tells you all of the service work done on that vehicle.
Paul
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On 2/19/2014 12:46 PM, Pavel314 wrote:

Not true at all. My cars are properly serviced and well cared for, but nothing will show on CarFax. My cars are carefully driven and a good buy for the next owner. (with the exception of my last Buick, but I hgave that away)
OTOH, I know a couple of cars that will show up with oil changes but are driven by idiots that tend to beat on them.
About the only value to CarFax it may show if the car was in an accident.
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It "can" show all work at the dealership. Also provides an ownership trail. It's nice to know that a car was owned by one owner, instead of five. It's useful, but can only tell so much.
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On Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:23:41 -0600, Vic Smith

and gives total ownership history. It is available for ANY car - even dealer sold and well worth the money if you are serious about a used car on a dealer lot. Keeps the salesman honest. If he says it was a local tradie-in and the sellers pack shows it came from 300 miles away, don't believe a single word he says about the car beyond the colour and make.
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90% chance it won't show up.
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wrote:

serviced, with no repairs to speak of. A bad carfax can meen something. A good carfax doesn't meen much.
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