Your day starts out like any other, you get up, go through your normal morning routine, preparing for a day at work. Get dressed, get the kids off to school, grab a quick breakfast, put the trash out, and head to the office. As you back out of your driveway to leave, a smile spreads across your face. Even though the day started out like any other, you can't help but notice the empty stall in your garage as the door slowly closes.
It's a stall that will be filled later tonight.
400 miles away, resting peacefully in a dark, enclosed trailer, rocking gently on its springs with each undulation of the road, sits your dream car. 6 hours ago it was carefully loaded and secured. The previous owner hands over two sets of keys and an envelope with a signed title. The two of you have never met. He stands in his darkened driveway and watches the truck and trailer slowly drive away. Now, it's on it's way to you.
Sitting at your desk, you start daydreaming. You've studied every picture, know every curve, analyzed pictures of the interior, ogled over the engine... "You did your homework," you silently assure yourself... "Besides, the seller sent me so many pictures, and he said all the numbers match. Plus, why would he say the car was rust free and from Arizona if it really wasn't?" You pull up the pictures again- "look at that Pistol Grip shifter! I can't wait to run this thing through the gears!" Images play out in your mind of stoplight drags, blasts through the open countryside, and the sound of the 340 six pack rumbling through the glasspacks. Your last thought before getting back to work- "It'll be great- I can't wait for tonight!"
Your workday wraps up, you start heading for home. You talked to the transporter that afternoon, he's planning on arriving at your house by 6. It's a beautiful night for a maiden voyage in your new muscle car. Everything is going according to plan.
The transporter arrives promptly at 6. Fifteen minutes of unloading and your prize, your dream, is sitting in YOUR driveway! You're already imagining your route for your first spin- quick drive around the lake shore and then out into the country to open her up a little...
Then your brother-in-law shows up. You forgot you had mentioned to him that the car was being delivered tonight, but he remembered, and now he's here to check out your rolling iron. You make a few minutes of chit chat- you really want to hit the road- but you see his eyes- they're moving all over the car while he's talking to you...
You start hearing the comments:
"Hey, does that hood look right to you? The lines, between the hood and the front fenders- it's like the don't line up..."
"Huh, look at the run in the paint on the front valance here- Is this original paint?"
"What's wrong with the weather stripping over this window? It's all cracked and brittle. Thats probably why the door panel is stained..."
"Did the seller tell you about this blistering here under the vinyl roof?"
You shrug these things off, the seller really seemed like a good guy- besides, your brother-in-law always knows how to rain on a parade...
It doesn't get much better once you both get in the car to take that drive. You notice when you start it up, that needle on the oil pressure gauge, it seems like a little long to get up to pressure... You forgot to ask the seller about the gauges, so this is the first time you notice that clock on the dash has stopped. It won't be until your first fill up that you'll realize the gas gauge will register no more than half full. Still, the V-8 sounds raw and powerful, the sun is just starting to go behind the trees, this is supposed to be exciting!
You gently back out into the street, and as you do, you hear a soft “clunk!” as the front wheels roll over the apron of your driveway. It was soft, but you heard it. Seems like you even felt it in the steering wheel, just a little... You think to yourself; "just relax, it's an old car- I never expected perfection".
Into first, fingers wrapped around that shifter, ease the clutch out and off you go... Just above idle, in first gear, creeping up the street. The neighbors are checking out the car and you know it... The car looks great- you start feeling like you're in a parade.
Out of your neighborhood; onto the main road. You shift from first to second, accelerating gently; you shift again form second to third. It's there- you can feel it. The gearbox is quiet, it doesn’t grind, but it's there all the same. It's notchy between the gearshifts. You can feel it through the shifter. Immediately your mind goes back in time to that old Ford Escort with the 5 speed you had in college. Worn synchros. Wasn't that what your old man called it? That feeling like the gears didn't really want to mesh when you shifted. The always did, but your dad warned you, "don't try and shift quickly, go slow between the gears, give the synchros time to work, they're wearing out," he'd said.
Third into fourth, accelerating to a nice cruising speed. What's that vibration in the wheel? You hope you're imagining it, it's subtle, but it’s there too... The seller didn't say anything about a shimmy. Do these tires need to be balanced? I hope that's all it is- I paid a lot of money for this thing...
The cruise continues; you make small talk with your brother-in-law, and in your head, a to-do list is starting to form. Frustration is building that the seller didn't mention any of your observations in your conversations over the phone. The thirty or so pictures he sent you didn't show any of these flaws either. What can you do? The seller is five states away. Ultimately, there is nothing materially wrong with the car; it runs and drives. You signed an agreement stating the vehicle was sold to you in "AS-IS" condition. In hindsight, you wish you would have asked more questions. Demanded more pictures. This is not turning out to be quite the day you thought it would be.
Michigan Automotive Inspection Services is here to help. A vehicle is a major purchase and commitment for most people. Every person is different, and has different expectations about the vehicles they purchase. Our vehicle inspections help ensure that as a buyer, you ask the seller all the right questions to ensure that when you take delivery of the vehicle, you are fully aware of what you are purchasing. When you find the vehicle that is right for you, be it a classic, antique, street rod or your next pre-owned daily driver, give us a call. We are here to help and look forward to serving you.
An Extra $5
March 17, 2017
Five Reasons to Consider a Pre-Purchase Inspection