The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Am I Evil Now?

Prepare yourselves for yet another follow-up about the old car.

In my post the other day, I mentioned that I was going to try one more thing to get Loki running. Although I could go through that comedy of errors, I'll skip ahead to where I finally ended up at the one store that would have the thing I needed only to find out that it had closed 15 minutes earlier. However, right across the street from this closed store was a car dealership.

I sat in my fabulous new car and I thought, Fuck it. I give up. So I went across the street and I said, "Here's what's wrong with my car--the alternator/water pump belt is broken. How much will it cost to fix it and tow it?" The nice man behind the counter said that it would cost about $200 to fix what I said was broken and tow it. Then he went into this long spiel that we've all heard before, "But once we get inside there, it could be that something made that belt break, so if we just replaced the belt, it might break again, so it might end up that...."

"Hold on there, partner," I said. "I could care less about this car. I just want to get it running and then sell it."

"Oh," he said. "In that case, we'll just replace the belt."

But I started thinking about what he'd said before. What if he was right, and the belt was rubbing against something, or something was loose and wobbly, and that caused it to break? What if I sold it, and it just broke right away again? Wouldn't that be wrong of me? And could I get in trouble for it? I asked these questions of the service guy.

He said, "Well, it would be wrong if you knew there was a problem with the car, and you didn't disclose it. But you won't know if there's something wrong with it, because we won't look for anything else wrong with it, and so that will be fine. Just make sure you tell a buyer that you're selling it AS-IS."

That seems a little sketchy. Technically, I suppose he's right. But morally, things are a little trickier. On the other hand, it's a 15 year old car with 150,000 miles on it, and I'll be selling it for about $1000. If you're buying a car like that, you have to accept the fact that it might, in fact, breakdown on you. Even if I had the mechanic check it out completely until they could say to me, "It's 100% fine," what would that really mean? I just had the car inspected about two weeks ago. My mechanic put a sticker on it saying that it was fine. Two weeks before that, I had it at a shop when it broke down the last time, and that mechanic also said it was fine. So "fine" from a mechanic on a 15 year old car with 150,000 miles on it doesn't really amount to much.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm not going to sell that car to some unsuspecting soul out there. But what do you guys think? How wrong am I to do it?


  • A mechanic certified the car as "fine" just two weeks ago? I'd be tempted to find a way to make that mechanic pay for his obviously incompetent assesment. Like, have the car FULLY repaired at the dealer and sue the first mechanic for the cost. OK - so maybe that's a bit vindictive. However, I think you should at least be able to recoup the cost of the inspection from him. And what does "fine" mean? Fine if you leave it in the garage and don't try to drive it? Sorry - I have a mild distaste for shyster mechanics.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with having the belt repaired then selling the car "as is". A smart buyer should have the car checked out by a mechanic before the sale anyway (it should be the buyer's responsibility, not the seller's). "Caveat Emptor" - let the buyer beware. I think the law only requires you to be truthful about the actual mileage (that you have not tampered with the odometer).

    By Blogger NotCuredYet, at 2:05 PM, September 24, 2004  

  • NCY, I hear you, and I feel your anger because, well, you're feeling my anger LOL. I don't blame the mechanic who passed the car for inspection. Well, maybe he should have checked those belts a little more carefully, but when you think about it, it wouldn't be in his best interest to NOT tell me there was something wrong with the car. Obviously, he makes his money from FIXING cars, and if he doesn't tell me what's wrong with it, I won't pay him to fix it.

    I really don't know if my mechanic should have seen something or not. If I blame any mechanic, it's the only who put that belt on four weeks ago! (this guy was not my regular mechanic) He can't use the excuse that he just didn't look closely enough--the belt was in his hands!

    What it comes down to is the fact that the car is 15 years old. Something can go wrong with it at any time, and it doesn't have to be anybody's fault.... although it could have been this time around. ;)

    By Blogger Oz, at 3:03 PM, September 24, 2004  

  • We once bought a brand new car which had the engine seize up for no apparent reason about 2 weeks after we bought it. We were out for a nice drive in the country...and weren't around any houses. Finally, someone came by and called the tow truck for us. The dealership put a whole 'nuther engine in for us. It was a lemon, that car. Something was always going wrong with it. And it was brand spanking new..! Life's like that sometimes...

    By Blogger foxymama, at 10:01 PM, September 26, 2004  

  • Your old car wasn't a Ford Taurus, by any chance, was it? I've heard two other "engine needed replacement after a few weeks" stories, and they were both Tauruses (Taurii?)

    Seriously, I concue with NotCured...let the buyer beware. If I ever find myself in the market for any car of that vintage, my expectations will need to match the age and condition of the vehicle. Stuff breaks when a car is old and well-used. If someone buys into that situation and doesn't quite get it then, well, the seller shouldn't be accountable for the buyer's stupidity.

    By Blogger Carmi, at 3:41 PM, September 27, 2004  

  • Thank you, Foxy and Carmi. I feel even better now about duping some unsuspecting soul.... kind of.... :)

    By Blogger Oz, at 4:54 PM, September 27, 2004  

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