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van build

3 Things We Wish We Would’ve Checked Before Buying our ProMaster Van

We knew there would be unforeseen maintenance, but as amateurs at care buying, here are the three things I wish we would’ve checked first, because it might have given us a bit more negotiation leverage. Maybe, maybe not. 

A little background – these tips are personal to our buying experience as we shopped for a Ram ProMaster to convert into a tiny home. So, it was a bigger and more “industrial” purchase than a regular car.

It was pretty obvious the side door handle needed replacing, since the handle itself had been broken off. I did a quick Amazon search, thinking it might only be $50. In fact, the replacement part was $115. If we opted to have someone replace it for us, we were looking at a $200 ordeal. When settling on the price, we were able to get $500 knocked off. The salesman was pretty ready for that move and pulled out the, “This is the best price in the country on this type of van.” Which, was true. But, it’s still $18,000 coming out of our pocket.

Here are three more unforeseen problems, that we probably could have checked while at the lot.

  1. The Spare Tire – This is one I wouldn’t have thought about, unless someone mentioned it. How often is the spare tire flat? Actually, I don’t know. I don’t buy cars that often. But, repairing the spare tire cost us $183, rounding up to $200.
  1. The Headlights – These might be hard to check during the daytime, but try to get a close look at them. Are they scuffed and scratched? Does it look like some elbow grease will shine them up? We didn’t know it until our overnighter road trip how dim they were and not just because of the bulbs. Ours were pretty worn and needed replacing, which added up to $330. Whew! Who knew they’d be so pricey? If it’s obvious your desired car will need new headlights, do a quick Amazon search to get an estimate. 
  1. Brakes & Oil – ask the dealership when they last changed the brakes and oil. It may be standard practice, it may depend on the dealership. You might need new pads, or new calipers too. But, changing the brakes to make sure they were fresh and ready to go cost us $390.
Our brakes really weren’t terrible, and it gave Ivan something to do/learn while waiting for the weather to warm up.

All in all, the repairs we were responsible for added up to $1,000. We got a bit knocked off the price, could have negotiated another couple of hundred dollars if we knew to look for these three things? Maybe, maybe not. 

But, at least I will know for next time. (Hopefully, there’s not going to be a next time to soon!!)

Any other quick checks people should do when buying a car? Maybe ones that are less obvious than checking tire tread? Comment below. And, good luck on your next car purchase!

Love,

Hanna 

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