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Local technician offers advice on car buying

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  With the holidays a recent memory, some Americans will turn their attention to tax time and although the filing deadline isn’t until April 15, many people file taxes early in anticipation of receiving a tax refund and for some, that refund may be used toward the purchase of a car.

Steve Cantrell has written a book offering tips on how to avoid common problems while buying a used car.

Photo by Melissa Robinson

  Buying a car can be daunting, particularly a used car, but Steve Cantrell, local auto technician and author of the self-published booklet, How to Never Buy a Problem Used Car Again, said there are certain things to look for when perusing the used car lot or checking out a vehicle from Craig’s list.

  Cantrell, who lives in McDonough, was inspired to write the 26 page booklet after seeing a need for it in his business. He’s been in the automotive business for nearly 15 years, currently as an automotive technician at a local oil change service franchise in McDonough. He said he has seen, time and time again, people getting stuck with used cars that looked clean, but quickly broke down.

  Although much of the advice in the booklet is common sense, Cantrell offers several nuggets of information, focusing his advice toward women.

  He said one of the most important tools for a consumer is the access to service records.

  “Most people who are selling a car, especially if they are the sole owner, will have service records. Not just oil changes, but any maintenance records, such as transmission and radiator flushes, replaced parts and so on” said Cantrell. He also said that before buying any used car, if possible, have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle.

  “This starts way before the day you are buying a car. It’s important to try and establish a relationship with a mechanic you trust. If you don’t already have a mechanic, then there are several automotive businesses that offer a fixed price for a pre-inspection,” said Cantrell.

  He also said that taking an extensive test drive is paramount to discovering any possible problems with a vehicle, and make sure to test drive without the radio on.

  “Don’t just drive it around the block, he said. Try and take it out on the highway, from here to Macon if possible. If it has any leaks or other problems, they’ll come out in a longer drive.”

  He advises that the best place to find a good used car is through word of mouth from friends, relatives and coworkers. He also said to stay away from auto auctions or repo lots that don’t allow test drives. He said beware of an engine that is too clean, as that can be a sign of engine problems.

  “One of the greatest resources available to most people is the internet or your smart phone. You can Google any make or model of car and find out the common problems associated with the car. Or you can search online what the book value is of the car you are thinking about purchasing,” said Cantrell.

  Cantrell said that oftentimes, car sellers and dealers inflate prices between January and May because of tax refund time, so he urges buyers to take time to really look for what they want.

  “My book is really just a starting point,” said Cantrell. “It’s important to educate yourself about any purchase, particularly when you’re putting out several thousand dollars, and there are good cars out there. You can find a reliable used vehicle for three or four thousand dollars, but if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t hesitate to walk away.”

  Cantrell’s book can be found on Amazon.com. For more information on car values, there are several sites worth noting, including www.Edmonds.com and Kelley Blue Book at  www.kbb.com

 

 

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