How to read a car history.
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Thread: How to read a car history.

  1. #1
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    How to read a car history.

    I have been scoping out the carfax histories of used Caymans and have some questions about certain occurances in a used cars history and what it might mean. One of the thing that I have noticed, is that come cars sit around for months before they are sold. Sometimes they end up being sold to another dealer. One car sat for 10 months before ending up at another dealer's lot before being sold. The record shows that it had a battery change during that time, before the first owner took possession. Is this kind of history common, and does it mean anything.
    Another thing I have noticed is that a few cars end up being sold at auction to another dealer after being owned for a year or two. Is there anything to be wary about a car that ends up being sold at auction? I assume that the owner defaulted on the loan or something and it ended up being repossessed.
    Finally, sometimes a car that is 4 or 5 years old will have had 2 or 3 owners, sometimes only held for a few months. Should one be careful about a car with such a history? The service records do not seem to show many problems.
    It seems like, in looking for the best used vehicle, one should try to find a single owned vehicle, with low miles and a clean service and incident history, so I wonder if I'm being too restrictive if I rule out cars with the above issues in their history?

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    Re: How to read a car history.

    One thing I do know if that dealers swap cars all the time. And dealers also don't like cars on their lots for more than a few months. Rotating inventory if you will. So, if a used car hasn't sold for a few months they do in fact run them through the auction. It's part of the business model for successful dealers. My car is a good example. I bought it a day or two before it was scheduled to go to auction. It had been on the dealers lot from November to February in Pennsylvania and there aren't a lot of used sports cars being sold over the winter. Second, it was a base model when the upgraded S models were a lot more desirable. My car was one year old with 3500 miles and as brand new as one could find. It was previously owned by a women who bought it one year prior on impulse and decided she needed a bigger car. I got an outstanding deal. I was happy and the dealer was as well because they certainly got more for the car than they would have at auction when in all likelihood, another dealer of some type would have bought it. I still have the car 11 years later. It's been problem free and will keep it until I'm not able to drive anymore.

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    Re: How to read a car history.

    Agree with Budman, you can't tell much from what you've described. I get the impression some people want to own a Porsche for a while - a bucket-list thing - so only plan to keep the car a short while. I prefer to buy a car from a single owner, private sale, so I can look him in the eye when I talk to him regarding the car's history, maintenance, etc. When you buy from a dealer you lose that, irrespective of how many owners the car has had. Of course a PPI is always a good idea, although when I bought my used Cayman several years ago (single owner, private sale) I did not get one because of the logistics of being hours away from a Porsche dealer. But the car has been good to me.

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    Re: How to read a car history.

    The previous posters have good advice. Here's what I'd do. If its used, and you're serious, get a PPI as noted above.

    Second, Carfax caveat emptor. Read https://oppositelock.kinja.com/how-c...gra-1639660981

    More below

    Quote Originally Posted by ddtan View Post
    come cars sit around for months before they are sold. Sometimes they end up being sold to another dealer. One car sat for 10 months before ending up at another dealer's lot before being sold. The record shows that it had a battery change during that time, before the first owner took possession. Is this kind of history common, and does it mean anything.
    The battery change is probably because the car sat and the battery died. Who knows why it sat? Maybe they priced it too high. Inventory sitting on lots means lost money.

    Quote Originally Posted by ddtan View Post
    Another thing I have noticed is that a few cars end up being sold at auction to another dealer after being owned for a year or two. Is there anything to be wary about a car that ends up being sold at auction? I assume that the owner defaulted on the loan or something and it ended up being repossessed.
    If the car isn't worth being CPOd, then it could be sold at auction. I wouldn't assume anything. Get a PPI.

    Quote Originally Posted by ddtan View Post
    Finally, sometimes a car that is 4 or 5 years old will have had 2 or 3 owners, sometimes only held for a few months. Should one be careful about a car with such a history? The service records do not seem to show many problems.
    That doesn't mean much for two reasons:

    First, some people like mentioned above, don't like a sports car, got in over their head, etc.

    Second, some wealthy turn cars over in months. Don't like the color? Get a new one.

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    Re: How to read a car history.

    Thanks for the responses. It is like I thought. Of course, I plan to get the PPI, and take the Carfax with a grain of salt, however, the more information, the better, I always say. One concern about many owners, is “lemons”, which may not even show up on PPI.
    The interesting thing about cars not selling for a long time is how well the resale prices hold up, even though demand might be low. I would love to find a private sale from someone close, but I’m doubtful in my neck of the woods. I suspected that the Cayman is a status car that people buy on impulse and either cannot afford, or find impractical, and for my sake, hope that it is the case, that there are many fine specimens out there on the used market for me to acquire.

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    Re: How to read a car history.

    The answer to your question is you read it with skepticism. For instance I leased a new 2011 Audi A4S. Three years later I bought it out of lease and still own the car. Carfax says my one owner car has had three owners. My interpretation of that is; 1st owner was me, 2nd owner was Audi, 3rd owner was me. Go figure. More recently I bought a 2014 CPO Porsche CS from a private party. A title was issued for the 1st owner, a title was issued when Porsche CPO the car, and a title was issued for the 2nd owner. So we have 3 issued titles but only 2 owners. I get both Carfax and Auto Check and I take them with a grain of salt. Good Luck!

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