It’s generally understood that buying a used car carries some risk, but for many, it’s the most affordable option. Tools like CARFAX that tell a buyer what repairs have been made on a certain vehicle can help as well as the car’s total mileage (10,000 miles per year is recommended). Some even spend money to take a the car to a mechanic to give it a good once over. I didn’t do that, nor did I remember to request the CARFAX on the 2007 Toyota Yaris, a.k.a. the Bunny, that I eventually bought. I knew the mileage was high and the tires would need replacing but it drove well and seemed solid, so I bought it.
Six months later it was indeed equipped with four new tires, but on the way back from work, luckily less than three miles from home, I noticed that the hot engine light came on. When I got home, I checked under the hood and found that liquid had spilled inside the engine compartment and on the floor of the garage. What could it be? I had no clue but I knew I couldn’t drive it.
One thing I did invest in as a used car owner was roadside assistance, namely AAA. I knew the Bunny needed to see a mechanic but also that a car this old may need to go to the source to get a proper diagnosis as well as parts, so after I called AAA to get the Bunny towed, I also set up an appointment with Charles Maund Toyota. It may cost more to get your car serviced at a dealership, even with the 10 percent discount they offer and free shuttle to and from the dealership, but I saw it as an investment in my peace of mind.
It took less than an hour to find out that the water pump had broken. After replacing that and the drive belt—I was told that it might start slipping since it had gotten wet—and the rear wiper blade—I thought I’d throw that in for good measure—I was out $481.96.
No car repair is welcome news but as a used car owner, it helps to have a back-up plan, e.g. mechanic and insurance, that makes the process a little less painful. For now, I’m sticking with AAA and Charles Maund Toyota.