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Re: Mechanic's inspection

Every time I buy a used car I check the compression.  I also allow potential
buyers of my used cars to do the same.  I've found it's also a good idea to
let the seller know on the telephone that you know something about the car
that you will need some time to do a good once-over.  I try to schedule times
to look at the cars when I will have at least an hour of daylight left, and I
always bring a flashlight and some clean, well-stored tools.  If you act
professionally, most people don't object to you poking around their cars
unless they're trying to hide something.

Interestingly enough, using this strategy I was able to help the owner of a
car that I decided I wasn't interested in buying.  Her upper strut mount nuts
were loose, and her mechanic had told her it was "probably CV joints".  She
was going to take the car in to have the joints replaced, but I snugged the
nuts with my tools, and told her to visit a good alignment shop instead.  

But also a caveat: even if you are reasonably sure about the car, you can
expect the unexpected.  My current car turned out to have a broken radiator
inlet that only revealed itself 1 month after I bought it (the hose blew off
the radiator under high pressure).  I never thought during the inspection to
remove the upper radiator hose and inspect the inlet for damage.

Best Wishes,