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Old 02-13-2014, 08:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Car Listings on Craigslist

I've been looking to buy a 2010-2012 Prius for the past 3 months, but have run into nothing but dead ends in locating the car I want at a reasonable price.

It seems 75% of the listings in the PDX area are rebuilt\branded title cars. On top of that, all but 1 of the cars I've looked at came from Russians. I don't care that it's Russians selling the cars, but I've noticed some seemingly shady things. Some ads show the same photos for a car listed by different people with different phone numbers.

Recently I went to check out the car in this ad and found that the car pictured is not even the one for sale. Originally the ad said it was a package IV with NAV, but when I looked at it in person, I found it was a package II without NAV, had stock tires instead of the ones shown, and the windows were tinted. Also, the ad says 35k miles on the OD, but actual is 39k. After asking about it, the guy said he copy/pasted the ad from a friend, and since then has corrected some of the errors in the listing.

Why would someone copy an ad when it takes just as much time to make a new ad with the correct info?

Why is it Russians selling cars?

Why so many Rebuilds?

Is it Russian culture to be deceptive in marketing? All people are corrupt, but I seem to be noticing a trend here. I posted a car for sale once, and a potential buyer specifically asked if I was Russian, as if he wanted nothing to do with the car if I was Russian.

Why won't these cars go for a reasonable price? Many 2010 vehicles still have the remainder of the manufacturers warranty left, but rebuilds have none. How are these cars selling for 85% of private party value? So far, nobody has been willing to sell at 70% of value, cash, even though I think that is the upper end of reasonable. Are people really paying too much for these cars?

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Old 02-13-2014, 10:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Salvage hybrids are tempting but with my (salvage) Fiesta I can't see trying to rebuild a hybrid. With a lifetime average close to 46 MPG, it is not worth it to lose the warranty on the hybrid components.

If I was going to get a hybrid today it would be a base model Pruis C, probably new or one that was less than a year old with low miles for a few thousand less than new. The difference in price compared to the Fiesta would be almost twice the price for a small gain in mileage.

Nice thing is I got to see the Fiesta BEFORE it was repaired. It was one of those that you wonder how they came up with enough damage to total it in the first place, no deployed air bags or broken glass. The interior was perfect. They even reused the Ford emblem in the grille (plastic) and all the damage was in the front end.

I also got a warranty, the only problem I had was the accent lights did not change when you cycled the switch. My buddy popped off the console cover and the switch was not plugged in. Since they never did anything to the interior, it was probably not plugged in at the factory when the car was built. I got a fresh inspection sticker and when they aligned the front end I got to specify minimum toe in, barely within specs.

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Old 02-13-2014, 11:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use to deal with heavy equipment and it was my experience all the dealers on the west coast had imported equipment with what looked like chinese character or similar on the sides. People on the east coast dont want that on the side of their equipment.

Id pull the trigger and buy new at that point. If I buy a used car my budget would be around 5 grand tops.
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've gotten some super deals from CL but as always, the buyer must beware!
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I see the logic in having a warranty on the hybrid components, but figured since I'm pretty handy with electronics and mechanical stuff, I could probably sort any issue out that I might have. Many of the salvaged cars have been driven for over a year, giving some indication of reliability.

The reason I'm looking at the Prius is because of the ability to sleep in the back and get good fuel mileage on road trips. In very hot weather, the car can be left on to provide minimal air conditioning when needed.

I'm really looking for something around $10k that has been functionally rebuilt to a high level of quality. I've looked at buying new, and I'd have to spend $30k to get what I want (PIP).

It took me 6 months to replace my Legacy when it was rear-ended, so I guess I'm just being impatient and cynical. I do cringe every day that I drive the Cummins to work. It's just getting up to temp by the time I make the 7 mile commute.
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I had a similar experience shopping for a used car in Ottawa years ago. Same shady circumstances from "private sellers" (cars not as described; obvious recent bodywork; wrong name on the ownership ... "it's my brother's/friend's"; car not here today, can get it for you tomorrow). Common ethnic background (not Russian) in more than a few cases. It made me wonder if it was some kind of widespread racket (probably was -- "curbsider" illegal dealers were just coming under scrutiny).

I ended up buying a trade-in off the back of a dealer's lot instead of trying to save money (theoretically) in a private sale.
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Old 02-14-2014, 08:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Not a car but a CL experience, maybe I'm just lucky. I rebuilt a house 2.5 years ago. The AC conderser unit was stolen when the house was vacant. New one would have cost me $1000-1200 for the part only. My brother's AC man said he would install it for free, he did the original job.

Found one on CL for $400. Brand new and still under factory warranty, precharged with R410A, in the box with a bill of sale.

It's even the same manufacturer as the original stolen unit.

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Old 02-14-2014, 10:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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LOTS of Russians in the body shop business.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Look at the Russian dash cam videos on You Tube and you can see why!
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Old 02-14-2014, 02:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So, y'all want a little Curbing 101 (Curbstoning to our friends south of the border) do you? I could be here all day with this one, but I will try to help out a bit with some of OPs initial questions. This is all in regards to people buying and selling cars privately, not anything related to actually having a dealers license.

I don't know what the tax situation is like in your state, but where I live, if I buy a used vehicle from my neighbor, I have to pay 12% tax on the purchase price when I register the car into my name. Now, if I am buying that car strictly to resell it, that's 12% of my potential profit gone right off the bat. So instead, I pay my neighbor for his car, get him to fill out all the seller's portions of the transfer paperwork, then just leave the buyer's portion blank. I put the car up for sale for say $1000 more than I paid, and someone comes to look at it. They decide to buy it, and ask to see the paperwork. "Oh, well my cousin went to Japan to teach English and left his car for me to sell for him as he didn't have time, but here's all the signed paperwork, feel free to check the VIN number, it's all legit." Which it is. Kinda. The car isn't stolen, it's just not being sold by the registered owner and taxes haven't been paid on the previous transaction. Here it's called "bridging" the registration. So if the guy buys the car from me, he fills out the purchaser part of the transfer papers and the car goes from my neighbors name to his, and I never show up anywhere on paper. I save the 12% tax, any profit I make is tax free, and have zero liability in case of any future issues as hey, my name ain't on the papers now is it?? And yes it's illegal. I don't know how illegal it is in your part of the world, but generally anytime you stick it to the tax man they frown upon it.

Another reason you might see the "it's my cousin's car" thing going on is a group of people will get a hold of a car with a know issue, or say really high mileage. This used to be way easier to do before things like Car Fax came along, but it still happens a lot. The car will get transferred between 3 or 4 people that all know each other, and in the process something odd might happen, like suddenly it went from 250,000 miles to 150,000 miles. The person that ends up "selling" it will have a straight face when he says it's 150k miles because it was when he got it (from his cousin or whoever). So average public buyer buys the car and finds out a year later that the mileage has been changed. You have any idea how hard it is to try and figure out who to go after for restitution in that situation? Everyone points at everyone else, and good luck ever getting any money back. Private sales are just that, private. You are on your own to do your research BEFORE you buy the thing. Dealerships charge a premium for vehicles, but the one thing they do offer is someone to go back to if there does turn out to be something fishy with the thing.

Also, depending on the dealer licensing rules for your area, there is generally a limit on how many vehicles a private individual can sell over the course of a year before they are considered to be doing it as a business and require a license. In my neck of the woods it's 6. Of course I have NEVER exceeded that number as that would be illegal, but if you get someone that does it a lot he will be using the "it's my cousin's car" line as well just to avoid putting a car into and then out of his name and attracting attention from the licensing board. Or he'll sell 6 from his name, then 6 from his sisters name, then 6 from his dog's name, whatever. The record holder in my province for cars curbed in a year by an unlicensed individual was 647! That's 1.7 cars a day! I need to meet this guy!

As far as finding a decent, honest car on CL, I never search the whole Vancouver area as I get all the shrapnel from all the roachy areas. This will sound harsh, but just pick 3 or 4 of the richest/nicest areas of your city, and just search those. Rich people take their stuff to the dealership for oil changes, just pay to fix whatever it needs, and when they want to sell it's generally just "an old car" to them by then so you can get surprisingly good deals, they just don't want the headache of dealing with more people. Would you rather buy a Prius from a sketchy looking yard surrounded by chainlink fence and razor wire, or out of the driveway of a nice house with the owners brand new Prius parked beside it? I have bought older Hondas and Acuras out of North Vancouver for literally a 1/4 of the amount of the total of the last service bill the owner paid at the dealership. '89 Civic, new struts, ball joints, master cylinder, full exhaust - all so new they still had the Honda part number stickers on them, for $500? It was cheap because it had a broken mirror and a scratch on the door... Ya, I'll take that deal alllll day long ha ha.

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