Starting over is never easy. But harder still if you are past 50. At the risk of sounding flip, one of the best tools for survival is humor.
Dating after 50 and shopping for a used car have some things in common. In both situations, we are looking for compatibility and trustworthiness. Some are tempted to buy the first sporty model they meet. Experts advise we slow down and ask a few simple questions from this handy checklist before even considering taking that vehicle for a test drive.
1. Ask yourself, how much car you can handle?
Despite what your brain is telling you, you probably don’t need a Porsche Carrera. At our age, it’s not how fast we get from zero to sixty, but if we make it onto the highway at all.
2. Why is this vehicle on the market?
Who was the previous owner, and why did they sell it? If the answer is, “That asshole didn’t know how to drive,” or “She didn’t understand a car like me,” you might want to keep looking. However, “Traded in for a newer model,” often suggests a high-quality automobile, with lots of good miles left.
3. How many miles on it?
It is illegal to turn back the odometer on a Chevy Malibu, but no law against doctoring up human beings. But, why worry? He/she is only as old as they look. Right???
4. What condition is it in?
Botox and bondo have a lot in common. They are both hard to detect. Film directors complain that screen stars are looking younger and younger, but they can’t make facial expressions. On a car you can test for bondo with a magnet. On a person you test for botox by asking them to raise an eyebrow, or wrinkle their forehead.
5. Does this vehicle have special accessories?
Some models come with expensive add-on’s that are pricey when new, but don’t necessarily raise the cost all that much in a used vehicle. A nice house on the beach in Malibu or being the heiress to a small fortune can compensate for lots of dents and scratches. Don’t overlook job benefits. Health care is expensive.
6. How many times has this vehicle been sold?
Some say three is the charm. However, according to an article in Enrichment Journal, "The divorce rate in America is 41 percent for a first marriage, 60 percent for a second marriage, and 73 percent for a third marriage." Don’t worry. It’s only a statistic.
7. Was this vehicle ever involved in an accident?
Accidents can be minor or severe. There is the fender bender, the side-swipe, and the ‘totaled.’ There is the bankruptcy, the joblessness, and the homeless. You want to have some idea what you are buying.
8. Do you have the service records?
It is not feasible to get under the chassis with a flashlight and look for leaks. You do, however, want to know if he/she is looking for a companion, or a nurse?
9. How much is this vehicle going to cost down the road?
Some vehicles require expensive tune-ups and frequent repair. Although there is no consumer report on people, you can take a clue from their ornamentation. Shoes, suits, purses, belts, clothes, watches, and makeup are a good indication of what this excursion is going to cost.
Be forewarned. Using this handy car buyer’s checklist does not guarantee success in future relationships, but it may weed out some of the lemons.
Also, be honest with yourself. What is the condition of the vehicle YOU are selling? How are your dents and scratches? Ever been in an accident? How many miles on your clock? The person sitting across the table from you is sure to be asking these same questions. Or you should hope so.
PS. Please direct all angry mail to the Edmunds Used Car Buyers Website.
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