Low-mileage used car. Need answer fast

Be careful. The ones that “love them” may be shills paid by the dealership – I recall reading somewhere that Yelp (and other online rating services) were notorious for that – here’s one example. Yelp has also been accused of other types of review manipulations.

Odometer’s been tampered with, most likely. With 1500 original miles there should be absolutely zero wear of any sort on the surfaces in the interior. No smooth spots on the floormats, no shiny patches on the steering wheel, etc. Any such wear and you should conclude that the dealer is dishonest as fuck.

I’d forgotten about that. One of the complaints on BBB was that after someone complained the used car needed a new engine, the dealer said she hadn’t bought the limited extended warranty and that the warranty is only good at the dealership. (The car broke down in Arizona.) They offered her $1,000 toward repairs (that she would have to pay for herself first) on the condition that she make no further claims and refrain from leaving negative feedback.

As I said in the OP:

It seems very unrealistic to me that a 2008 car would have only 1,500 miles on it. I want to know why. I read on Yelp that they buy their cars at auction. I wonder if this vehicle has ever been involved in a crime? I’ve heard that that can cause problems if it’s still ‘in the system’ with law enforcement. Another car (2012 with 57,000 miles on it) came from New York. Mrs. L.A. is concerned about rust on that one.

I’m thinking I should play Bad Cop. The car is $19,000 and new ones start at under $24,000. (The car in question is loaded with options, and the new car price is for the base model.) Hey Hey Paula said that they had to spend $3,000 to get a ‘garage queen’ in shape. People on Yelp say they had to spend $1,000 or more to fix things that shouldn’t have needed fixing. These are things I’ll bring up (as well as the C-minus rating from BBB). I could use some more interrogation questions.

Mrs. L.A. said, when she first told me she was looking at these cars, that she’s quite ready to walk out. She wants an AWD/4WD car she can use on her rounds and can ‘beat up’, and keep her 2000 Toyota Tacoma pretty. (She bought it new, and doesn’t have much more than 100,000 miles on it.) She’s a big girl, and it’s her money. She will not be told what to do. It’s her decision. But she also doesn’t like negativity if she’s already decided something in her mind. We’ll see how it plays out.

She thinks my Cherokee is ‘clunky’. I don’t find it so when I drive it. When it’s cold outside, the steering wheel makes a squeaking sound as if the moulding is rubbing on something. Personally, I think it would be better to just have a mechanic look at the U-joints and look at the steering wheel, and IRAN anything else; and the wheels should be rebalanced and it needs a new windshield. And the battery should be replaced. For $300 I can get a set of alloy wheels from the Jeep junkyard. With closing in on 250,000 miles, it’s still going strong. Unfortunately, repairs won’t do anything for the mileage. While I can average 20 mpg, her foot is a bit heavy.

On Preview: Thanks, Gorsnak. I’ll look for those.

Yep. Check interior wear. But it can happen. When we sold my Dad’s 10 year old truck I think it had 2200 miles on it.

When my Mom drove she might put 500 miles a year on a car. It now sits in her garage on a battery charger and I take it around the block about once a month.

That price seems absurd. Generally speaking, a creampuff 2008 will carry a slight premium over an average 2008, maybe 20% or so, but at the end of the day the technology that went into that car is 8 years old. I know they want to market it as “like a new car, only cheaper!” but it’s just not. Airbags, traction control, ABS, entertainment systems… those are all computers. Remember what your smartphone was like in 2008?

In this case it’s even worse, because the 2008s were still using a pretty old powertrain with a 4 speed auto, whereas the new ones (13+) have a 6 speed and direct injection. I’m sure you can get a 2013 with reasonable miles for around the same price, unless she’s really stuck on that body style.

That carfax is weird as hell too… it sat on the dealer lot (in Manhattan!) for over a year before it sold, then they put 1000 miles on it in a year (why even have a car), then 200 miles in the next 5 years before it was sold at auction and shipped to the West coast?

It looks nice, though, certainly is a creampuff.

I want to add, if it’s a Manhattan car it makes sense. Rich person wants something with 4WD that they can drive on occasion when public transportation seems unseemly, they drive a bit that first year but realize that it’s more of a pain than it’s worth, it lingers in a garage until they finally realize it’s dumb and unload it. I can’t figure out why it would take a year to sell when it was new, though, especially given how expensive it must be to keep a car on the lot in Manhattan. It’s not like it’s an oddball car or an unpopular color. Bad luck, I guess.

Mrs. L.A. did some more research while I was in the shower. She said they’d have to drop the price to about $16,000 before she’d consider it. She also looked at RAV4s at Toyota of Seattle. While US News says the MSRP for a new 2015 starts at under $24,000, Edmunds says the average price paid for one is $27,000. Toyota of Seattle is asking $29,000. In any case the $19,000 asking price for the '08 is more than she wants to pay.

She said that unlike the '10 (not '12, as I posted earlier) that came from New York, the '08 is local.

Although they can’t set modern speedometers back, they can certainly put new speedometers in the car. this is just hard to believe. You need the story on why this happened. Little old lady who only want to church on Sunday?

The tires should be brand new, matching brand, no visible tread wear. Now, replace them, they are over 5 years old.

It’s local now but it’s originally NY car, unless I found a different '08 RAV4 for sale in WA with 1400 miles on it.

eta: I’ll post a link to the carfax here if you’re OK with it, the dealership has made it public.

Note. Carfax ONLY reports what is reported to them. A dirty Carfax is meaningful, a clean one not so much. (you don’t know what wasn’t reported) Avoid letting the salesman tell you that the Carfax is anything but a piece of paper and using it to jack up the price.

Based on this, I wouldn’t even walk on to their lot. Find a more reputable dealer, and still be suspicious as hell.

Before you replace the tires (or believe them when they tell you they’re new) check the manufacturer’s date code.

Your wife is right.* You *have become invested in this car, despite all the danger signs.

Just forget it.

If it were odometer fraud, you’d think they’d roll it back to something a little more plausible though! An 8 year old car with, say, 24k miles isn’t going to be worth any less than one with 1.5k but isn’t going to arouse huge amounts of suspicion like this car.

Although I suppose with the “off the books salvage or flood rebuild” theory, maybe that happened 1,500 miles ago and they had to change the ECU but didn’t bother correcting the odometer reading.

Keep in mind, our “garage queen” was my husband’ beloved baby, and was worth sprucing up - I was told that during the week it spent at Pep Boys there was much speculation among the mechanics as to whether I could be persuaded to sell it. (It’s a '93 Honda del Sol that he bought new, low mileage and excellent condition.) I wouldn’t have spent that kind of money on someone else’s problem, or on a car that I wasn’t 100% sure was worth it. The car Mrs. LA is considering doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

We went and looked at the car. It showed no sign of wear. We took it on a test drive, and Mrs. L.A. gave it a good shake-down. It was on the way back that I noticed a ‘thump-thump-thump’. I mentioned it to the missus, and she noticed it then too. When we got back to the dealer, we took out the 2010. It didn’t have the compass or auto-dim in the mirror, and it didn’t have a sunroof. It also didn’t have a ‘thump-thump-thump’. The 2010 with 50-some thousand miles had more ‘oomph’ than the 2008 with 1,500 miles. She got down on the ground and looked underneath both vehicles. The 2008 was cleaner, but the 2010 is good, and ‘ten times better than the Jeep’. Mrs. L.A. said she was glad we took the 2008 out first.

She liked the 2010 RAV4 better, and decided to buy it. (It was actually her first choice when she was looking online.) It has a 30-day/1,000 mile warranty with the dealer, and she opted for the four-year/48,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that is valid at any Toyota dealership. The purchase price was a little higher than the high-end of the Kelly Blue Book fair market value, but it’s the perfect vehicle for her job and it seems, mechanically and cosmetically, to meet her requirements. It was also a lot cheaper than a similar one at Toyota of Seattle.

So she has a ‘new’ car. As for the low mileage on the '08, the salesman suggested that it may have been kept at a vacation home. He had no way to know. And the thump? He said it had been sitting a while, and a flat spot on the tire was probably causing it. No matter, The Wife bought the other car.

Oh, one more thing. As we were filling out paperwork, another couple came in and wanted to see it. I hear their salesman tell them it’s been sold.

Wife’s money, wife’s decision. I hope it works out. And it does have that 4/48k warranty.

:dubious: I’m not invested at all in it. I think the Jeep is fine. (Well, except that when she drives it, she spends more in fuel than her job reimburses her for.)