What is a Mechanic Special?

Car shopping leads to stress for many individuals. They look at the price of new cars and quickly realize they need to buy used to afford the car they desire. At times, people come across a listing that they figure must be a typing error. The price is simply too good to be true, so they wonder what the seller is hiding. Many times, these vehicles come with the label “mechanic special”, which gives them a better idea of why the price is so low. However, that leads them to wonder what a mechanic special is and what they should expect if they choose to buy the car.

What is a Mechanic Special?

Sellers list a car as a mechanic’s special when the vehicle they have up for sale comes with unknown problems. For instance, an owner might choose to offer their vehicle with this label when they don’t know what is wrong with it. They don’t want to spend the money to have the problem diagnosed and they don’t have the knowledge to locate the problem without expert help.

The new owner will be responsible for diagnosing the problem and repairing the car. That’s why the owner refers to it as a special and prices it well below the listed blue book value. The problem people encounter when purchasing one of these cars is the seller rarely shares what is wrong with the vehicle. The description they provide typically comes in very vague terms.

For example, they might say the engine makes a clunking sound when it goes into gear or there is a hissing noise coming from the front of the car. This leaves the buyer with no idea as to what they may be purchasing or how much it will cost to fix.

Why Buy a Mechanic Special?

A person may want to know why someone would purchase a mechanic’s special when they can’t drive it until they diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs. There are several benefits associated with going this route.

First, the buyer could get an outstanding deal on a car they love but couldn’t otherwise afford. For instance, the seller often has no clue what is wrong with the car, and it could turn out to be an inexpensive fix. When this happens, the buyer gets an outstanding vehicle and may find they can drive it for years to come. Doing so definitely saves them money versus buying a used car with no known issues.

Another option involves buying one of these vehicles and flipping it, much as people have been doing with houses for some time now. When the buyer has the skills, knowledge, and tools to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs, they can then sell the vehicle for a nice profit. In fact, a person might find they can make a good income by purchasing mechanic’s specials, fixing them up, and reselling them at full resale value.

Before a person starts purchasing cars for this purpose, they need to know the law in their state. For example, some states limit the number of vehicles a person can purchase and sell in one year. The buyer must know this before choosing to make this a side business or their main source of income.

The Drawbacks of a Mechanic Special

Before you go searching for a mechanic’s special, it’s helpful to know the downsides of purchasing a car using this method. Buyers must understand they cannot purchase the car and assume they can drive it right away. They will need to do work to have the vehicle up and running. There is no way to know how long it will take before the car is fully operational, which leads to the second drawback.

When a person buys a mechanic’s special, they often have no way of knowing if the car runs or what is wrong with it. Certain sellers offer a car as-is and provide some information regarding where the problem lies. However, most mechanic’s specials come with no details other than a vague description of the problem. this means the buyer could end up with a car that will cost more to repair than it will be worth when the repairs are complete. They may end up paying to tow the vehicle away for the prior owner.

Buying a Mechanic Special

Before purchasing any car, it’s helpful to know the terminology used. For example, a person might use CYL when talking about the number of cylinders found in the engine or describe their vehicle as 2WD which means it is a two-wheel drive. PW stands for power windows, and ABS refers to anti-lock brakes. Having this information becomes of great help in understanding what features the vehicle has and what the car may be lacking.

If you plan to buy from a private seller, know what to look for when browsing vehicle ads. Every ad should include basic information, such as the year, make, and model of the car. In addition, review all details to see if anything appears suspicious. For instance, a ten-year-old car with ten thousand miles doesn’t sound reasonable. It’s possible the odometer has been replaced or the owner has taken other steps to make it appear the car is in better shape than it is.

Sellers often list mechanic specials as for parts only or as-is. This means there is something wrong with the vehicle and the necessary repairs haven’t been carried out. Factor any anticipated repairs into the cost of the vehicle to get the best deal possible. Rebuilt and salvage vehicles should always come at a significantly lower price than cars with a clean title. Keep this in mind when negotiating with the seller.

Tips for Buying a Mechanic Special

Don’t purchase a vehicle sight unseen. Look over the car or have someone do this on your behalf before any money exchanges hands. Send traceable funds rather than using Western Union or delivering cash through the mail. When handing over the money, make certain a title is provided and the title shows the accurate status of the vehicle. For example, a salvaged vehicle should clearly state that it is a salvage on the title.

Obtain contact information for the seller, including their name, phone number, and address where the vehicle is located. Never provide them with your driver’s license number, social security number, or passwords. Finally, when having the vehicle shipped, ensure the vehicle has been loaded and the driver has verified they have possession before sending the final payment.

Selling a Mechanic Special

Every vehicle part has value, whether it comes from a Kia or a Lamborghini. Never assume a car is worth nothing when disposing of it. Get a mechanic to look over the car and provide you with a value. Some mechanics will come to the home if the vehicle isn’t operational and complete this inspection. If this isn’t possible, see if AAA or the insurance company will tow the car on your behalf at no expense to you. Every seller needs a ballpark figure when listing a mechanic’s special for sale.

Don’t describe the vehicle as a mechanic’s special unless that is what it is. It’s best to get this inspection, as a person might sell their vehicle thinking it needs thousands of dollars of work when a $50 piece would be enough to have it running again. Sellers with little knowledge of vehicles often make this mistake, never knowing they are throwing money away by doing so.

A person might turn to CraigsList and other online sites to determine the value of their car. Never make this mistake, as doing so could lead to the vehicle being priced higher than its worth. It will end up sitting and lead to frustration for the buyer. An inspection by a mechanic always serves as the best option, so use it whenever possible.

Tips for Selling a Mechanic Special

Include pictures when listing the vehicle. In addition, it’s helpful to record any noises the vehicle is making and share this with interested parties who contact you for more information. Take care when sharing any personal information with potential buyers, as they may be criminals looking to steal your identity. Less is more when it comes to personal information, although sharing as much information about the condition of the vehicle increases the odds of a sale. Provide nothing more than your name, phone number, the address where the vehicle is located, and the VIN. That’s enough for the seller to get information about the vehicle.

Owners may wonder how they should go about disposing of a junk vehicle. Trying to find someone to purchase the vehicle becomes a challenge for many, and knowing how much to sell for just compounds the difficulty of getting rid of the car. Paying to tow it away doesn’t make sense either. Consider putting the vehicle up for sale as a mechanic’s special.

On the other hand, if you want or need a vehicle and have the skills, knowledge, and tools to do most car repairs, consider investing in a mechanic’s special. Doing so may allow you to get an amazing car at a fraction of what you would pay to buy one in operating condition. Don’t overlook this option when this time comes to buy, as you could miss out on a great car by doing so. Nobody wants that to happen.