I spend a lot of time browsing online for cheap cars. Alot of time. Like hours. Every day. In fact, I sat down at 4:30pm to write this article. It’s now 10:28pm, and my dinner is cold. But hey, I needed to do some proper research for this story, right?
Actually, I didn’t. I’ve bought and sold and researched so many cars over the years that I’ve probably seen and heard just about every conceivable automotive facepalm. But then I dive into the farthest reaches of Craigslist to search for cheap diamonds in the rough, and inevitably I stumble upon a completely new facepalm. I get it; people can have different definitions of needs minor work. But for crying out loud, let’s be at least somewhat realistic.
So what I have here is my own top-ten list of dumb things people say to try and sell completely terrible cars. These certainly aren’t the only dumb things people say, so if you have any personal pet peeves, let’s see ‘em.
Ran good when parked
In other words, when I stuck it in my backyard ten years ago because the engine leaked more oil than the Exxon Valdez, it ran fine. I have no idea if it runs now because the petrol has turned to varnish, and the 10,000 hornets that live in the car won’t let me near it anyway.
Replacement parts only cost £25
Feel free to insert any inexpensive part that requires either an advanced degree in quantum engineering to replace, or a sum of money far greater than the value of the car to cover labour costs. If the repair was really that cheap, it would’ve been done by now.
I suppose such terminology is technically correct, in the same way that a Ferrari F12 is more fuel efficient than a Saturn V rocket. Newsflash - brakes with 30,000 miles are not new. For that fact, neither are the ‘new’ starter, alternator and fuel pump installed at the same time.
New tyres installed two years ago
Just like the brakes, two-year old tyres aren’t new. Only this time it’s not just the mileage but age. Even if the car sat for two years, those tires will still have some measure of dry rot. I always thought the differences between new and used were pretty clear. Am I wrong on this?
Translation: this thing is on its last legs, and though it runs and drives I wouldn’t trust taking it to McDonalds at the end of the block, never mind two hours to your friend’s house. Nor should you run it for longer than 15 minutes because hot coolant will spew out like a binge-drinking fraternity the morning after homecoming.
A perfect fixer-upper
While there are all kinds of professional and shade-tree mechanics looking for cars to fix up and flip, I promise not one of them ever bought a car because someone told them it was a “perfect fixer-upper.” They’re smart enough to figure it out on their own. It’s the ones who think they got game that fall for this. Nine times out of ten the ad is back up a month later, probably listed as a - you guessed it - perfect fixer-upper.
Engine is noisy and smokes but still runs good
I’m still shocked at how often I see people say this. I suppose I should give props to the seller for trying to be honest, but an engine that smokes and makes noise is definitely not running good. What the seller actually means is that the engine still runs, or more accurately, they’re surprised the engine still runs.
Project car, just needs a few simple things to finish
Folks, never in the history of the automobile has anyone ever sold a nearly-complete project car that needed just a “few simple things.” Never. People don’t spend the kind of time and money it takes to build a project car then bail out at the very end for no apparent reason. That would be like flying to Hawaii on holiday then deciding not to get off the plane because you “lost interest.” The seller either ran into a major problem or a major expense. Whatever the case, it’s not simple.
It’s a collector car
I’ll make this short and sweet. If you have to tell people in the ad that your car is a collector car, then it’s not a collector car. Case closed.
It’s an easy fix
This is easily my single biggest facepalm of them all. If it’s an easy fix, then fix it already. Why even bother telling people about it? I’ll tell you why - because the seller already tried the fix and either found it too difficult, or made things worse with a botched attempt.