Car-savvy Dopers, need your help please! (urgent!)

So I’m shopping for a used car. I’ve settled on a Ford Escape Hybrid, which are pretty darned rare in Central Texas. I found one, went to the dealer, drove it, and thought it was in good shape. It’s a 2005, so there are a few little nicks where a door or rock chipped the paint but the body is solid. No obvious sign of accident and so on.

It’s being sold at a Dodge dealer, and the dealer printed up a Carfax for me. No accident reports, and everything checks out. When I put the report from AutoCheck together, a few things confused me though:

  1. The car was delivered to the dealership in June '04 but the first title was issued in Feb '06. What happened here? Does it mean the car sat on the lot for a year and a half?

  2. The AutoCheck report states that the car was “reported at auto auction as manufacturer vehicle.” What does that mean, exactly?

  3. Over a three week period the car was reported at 3 auctions, one in Michigan and two in Texas. Only 18 miles elapsed in this period.

  4. Between June '06 and April '07 there were 3 titles issued. The last two transfers also have “corrected title (lien reported)” next to it. What does that mean?

  5. In a nine-month period 18,000 miles were put on the car. That’s 2000 miles a month! I suppose someone driving in Texas could pile those miles on… but that sounded a little odd to me.

  6. Probably most bothersome is the fact that March '07 the mileage reported at a emission/safety inspection was 32,568. A month later when the title is transfered the mileage appears as 32,474. It’s not a huge “rollback” but are such errors common?

  7. Last, I found the car cached on a page where it was being sold in another city (by the same dealer) for $2K more in June. It’s September and in a new city for less.

Any responses to these issues? Am I being pedantic or do any of these issues strike you as something that should cause concern?

Sounds pretty suspicious to me. I’d have it inspected by an independent mechanic, probaby cost you about a hundred bucks, but might save you a lot of grief. A close inspection should tell if it’s ever had serious damage, plus what else might be badly worn. Could be it’s been in a flood, hurricane, or even totaled.
I don’t know the Carfax lingo, don’t they explain it on their web site?

Off the top of my head I don’t know when the '05 Ford production line started, but June sounds a bit early, but possible. If this is correct this car was one of the first down the assembly line.

Quite possibly this was a executive demo or training car that went to auction after the company was done with it. This would make sense when tied to #1 above. Cars used for sales or training would be one of the first down the assembly line.

Beats the fuck out of me. I suspect that what happened was it was an Ford Motor Company car located in Texas, that was listed on the Ford internal used car lot (for employees)* which shows up as Detroit. Then when it did not sell, it was taken to the actual auction in Texas where it sold on the second try.

I think that means the car was sold to someone and the financing was not locked in. Paperwork was submitted to DMV. Then a lender was found, and updated paperwork had to be submitted. Either that or first lender got a real good look at the car buyer and bailed out, causing the buyer to find other financing. FTR I once bought a car that had six tittle transfers in 6 months. :smiley:

And your point is? in some areas for some drivers 2K a month is normal to low. The question is were the service done on time? I used to have a customer that put on 1,000 miles a week (sales rep), He had a standing appointment every five weeks to get his 5K service done. He would drive the car to 250,000 miles and get a new one. There were always guys lined up in the shop to buy his old car. It’s not the mileage, it’s the service that counts.

It could be dyslexia strikes and the second mileage was actually 32,744. Those mileage are not engraved in stone. People make mistakes. If someone was going to go to the trouble of winding back an Odo, I flat guarantee that they would wind it back more than 200 miles. 200 miles is not worth the trouble.

It did not sell, so they dropped the price.

While the shear number of owners over the three year period is a little unsettling, other than that, I don’t see any run fast, run far things here.
FWIW if you have an interest in a new Escape I can get you a discount, send me an e mail or PM.
*Ford maintains a “cyber” used car lot for employee purchases. If any employee in LA buys a car that is located in say Denver, the car is shipped.

From here.

I really have no idea whether all of these little oddities are likely in the purchase of *any *used car.
However, I think your caution is admirable and looks justified.

A.R. Cane, Andy, Rick… this is all very helpful. I’m going to have good ol’ Dad kick the tires with me and bring it to a mechanic for a one-over, but this is incredibly insightful! Y’all are awesome.

I agree that you’ve done a good amount of research, and that’s commendable, but a trusted mechanic who knows what he is doing is 100 times as valuable as all the reports put together.

HH, when I lived in Austin I used Lemon Busters twice to check out used cars before I bought them. They were great and right on target both times.