Journal: What Automotive "Golden Rules" Should You Absolutely Follow?

What Automotive “Golden Rules” Should You Absolutely Follow?

By Jonathan WC Mills
March 18, 2014
16 comments

Photography by Afshin Behnia for Petrolicious

“Never buy a car in the rain.” I was once offered this little bon mot and it has stuck with me since. I’ve actually made the mistake of shopping for cars in the rain and from a consumer perspective it’s a bad deal. Many things look beautiful in the wet, and let’s be honest, you want to get out of the rain! Getting into a pretty car and out of the elements means safety and comfort.

The opposite, of course, means shopping when you really don’t want to. Spending hours in the hot sun as its rays shatter into your eyes, bouncing off the shiny paint and chrome. Dealing with metal that sears, salesman that sweat and then the test drive: an easy-bake oven that forces you to test the air conditioner immediately. Not a fun experience, but one, in the end that probably means you’re getting a better vehicle.

So, what automotive “golden rules” have proven accurate in your life?

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Joe B
Joe B
7 years ago

I broke the “sight unseen” rule in the biggest way possible. I bought a Alfa Romeo from the other side of the country sight unseen and when it was delivered on a flatbed to my home it was raining. Double whammy.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson(@sprytly)
7 years ago

Do your homework and buy the “right” car for yourself. Example: Emerging classic BMW 2002Tii, lurk online club chat for a couple months to find out what experienced owners are talking about… rust problems, parts availability, etc. THEN shop for the best you can afford.

Jonny Shears
Jonny Shears(@jonnyshears)
7 years ago

The History file is as important as the car itself. Especially in terms of retaining the car’s future value.

Bill Giltzow
Bill Giltzow
7 years ago

Golden Rule #1; Double clutch every shift unless you can make the trophy larger with brutality.

Alex Hemmer
Alex Hemmer
7 years ago

When looking at a classic car, always take a strong magnet with you (one from the back of a speaker is best) . Wrap it in a handkerchief or paper towel and hold it up to every steel surface of the car. This is to check for filler/bondo. If the magnet doesn’t stick, walk away.

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman(@fb_1293493178)
7 years ago

don’t buy a used motor from a geezer called Arfur…

Jonathan W.C. Mills
Jonathan W.C. Mills(@jonathanwcmills)
7 years ago

“If you don’t look back at your car when you’re walking away…you bought the wrong car.”

Elvis T.
Elvis T.
7 years ago

Totally agree on this one 😉

Gonzalo
7 years ago

If you plan to restore a car, buy a “restorable” car and not a “destroyed” car.
We buy 1 renault 4cv to restore (we are really inexpert guys), but the state of the car was so bad that we need to buy three more cars (yes, four in total) to make one motor. We still working. So, It’s preferible to start a project with a car in good condition with little work to do, and if possible home made work.

Alan Mitchell
Alan Mitchell(@roccaas)
7 years ago

Always check the differential for sawdust.

Stephan P
Stephan P(@alfettaracer)
7 years ago

I too violated the never buy sight unseen rule. The car was exactly as represented, it gave me faith in the human race. I still have 12 years later.

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia(@afshinb)
7 years ago

Never buy a car sight unseen. I violated this golden rule twice. Both times the results were OK to good.

Ben Bishop
Ben Bishop(@bish)
7 years ago

Really obvious, never buy a car in the dark…

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa(@genovevo)
7 years ago

Don’t trust (much) when a car is a few (or many) thousands bellow it’s usual price…
Keep the budget tight, to avoid financial nightmares…

Benjamin Shahrabani
Benjamin Shahrabani(@ben-shahrabani)
7 years ago

Get a PPI (Pre purchase inspection) and if the seller balks, walk away. He or she may be hiding something!

Adam Holter
Adam Holter(@aholter90)
7 years ago

Buy a car in the winter. Often, I find that cars of our ilk will sit inside during the winter, during which time they collect dust, aren’t run, etc. This gives you a real look at how the car looks when its not all shined up, when the motor hasn;t been turned in a while, when the oil in the transmission is sluggish. Winter-stored cars show a lot of flaws.