Although I am no longer on the dealership side of the automotive industry, I am still asked what to consider when shopping for a pre-owned vehicle. One of the natural fears for customers is how they could be the unlucky one that gets the lemon. A real concern is if they purchase a car, does it become a money pit: not only making payments but then having to pay to have it fixed time and time again.
Add up monthly payments, insurance, gas, and now repair bills, it’s easy to see why shopping for a pre-owned vehicle can cause anxiety.
It’s hard to really know with pre-owned. It could be the best investment because it runs like a top or it could be a nightmare. And unless it’s a car with some factory warranty left, a guarantee from the dealership, or an impeccable, verifiable service history, it seems like a gamble.
Modern Day Approach
One company is providing car shoppers a resource to this end, utilizing the very thing we have with us at all times: our smartphones. Irvine, California based CarMD.com Corporation is a top provider of automotive diagnostic equipment. Since 2006, they have specialized in a range of consumer products from engine diagnostic devices to used vehicle inspection services.
Available online and through CarMD’s new app, Health and History Reports provide a detailed look at a vehicle’s past and present condition. Even more interesting is something called Predicted Vehicle Insight. The company’s Predictive Failure analytics show a list of things likely to go wrong within the next year. In addition, CarMD estimates the average cost to repair those items. CarMD wants to provide additional resources for a car shopper, especially if they are nervous about the buying process.
“There are some great tools available to help used car and truck shoppers check vehicle history and see fair market value, but this is the first app to offer vehicle history along with CarMD’s proprietary maintenance and Predictive diagnostic information,” said Ieon C. Chen, CarMD CEO.
Let’s say a person was thinking about buying a small sedan from a local car lot. It’s an important purchase because it’s for their son or daughter heading off to college. It has to be reliable and affordable, especially as they will be making trips to and from school.
This was a common situation for me when I was in sales at Sioux Falls Ford. Every summer, I met many customers who were looking for a car for their son or daughter to take to school.
With the CarMD app, Dad and Mom input the VIN and within moments see accident, theft, fire, flood, and hail damage history. From there, they can see average fuel economy, market value, odometer tampering issues, and the five year cost of ownership. Another benefit for car shoppers comes as a potential negotiation tool. For example, if a CarMD Health and History Report shows costly, upcoming repairs, a shopper might be able to win a lower selling price.
Both the app and CarMD Health and History reports are available to anyone, regardless of if they own a CarMD tool. Those looking to monitor vehicle health over time often use the Bluetooth-enabled CarMD Mobile. It features an on-board diagnostic (OBD) tool that plugs into the vehicle’s computer to scan its health.
A similar approach is taken with the Health and History Reports.
“For years CarMD has been the go-to source to empower drivers to solve check engine problems, Chen said. “With these new mobile tools, we are bringing our expertise to used car shoppers to help them make smart buying decisions and avoid purchasing a potential lemon.”
The CarMD app is available through the App Store and Google Play. The cost of a five CarMD Health and History reports is $25.00 USD which should nicely cover most car shoppers. As always, you can contact us with questions regarding the car buying process or see our handy guide on things to consider before purchasing an used car.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.