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Discussion Starter #1
Hello there,

I'm serious about buying an Insight, and I've found a few of them at fair prices on the internet that look promising. I'm not so concerned about a few visual flaws, but I'm worried about buying a car that has mechanical problems.

How do I check on VIN numbers ? Do I have to pay for this or can I get the dealership to do it for me. The carfax sent to me by one dealer was appreciated, but doesn't seem to be that informative.

I'd love to hear some tips about how to protect yourself from dealers / individuals who may be trying to unload a car that has been in an accident or experienced mechanical problems. Call me paranoid, but I really want to score a good car ! :roll:

Thanks
 

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A carfax you usually have to pay for. If the dealership willingly sent you one thats a good sign to begin with. If your looking to buy a car for the $30 it costs you to get a month of unlimited carfax's it's worth it. It will tell you owner history, mileage reports and any reported collisions. Thats the tricky part though because if a crash goes unreported it will not go on a carfax.

First look for stickers and logo's on the car. There is the H logo on the hood of the car. A lot of the time if a hood is replaced they will neglect to order the logo. On the driver side of the car there is the ulev or sulev sticker on the little quarter window. On the back of the car there's the H logo in the middle, gas-electric hybrid on the left and the Insight logo on the right. Minor details that are seldom thought about in the event of a collision repair. Second are the vin tags. I think I found them all, here are the locations:
Starting at the front of the car:
Front bumper, above the smile I guess, look to see if the plastic grille is missing too, thats often not replaced
Open the hood:
At the front of the hood along with the warning stickers there will be a vin tag as well.
At the top of each fender where the hood opens there will be a vin tag on each.
Take a good look at the hood when it's closed. A slight tap will usually tweak them. Look at the clearance around each head light, this could just be general over time movement, but it can be an indicator.
Now open the doors, there will be a vin tag on each door when it swings out, there will also be one on each door sill.
At the back of the car open the hatch, look at the top of the bumper, there will be one there and look up, there will be one on the bottom of the hatch as well.

Get the carfax to check for what it can, mileage accuracy, # of owners, etc. For the possibility of the car being in a wreck trust yourself more than the carfax. I know of several Insight's that have been in wrecks, yet have clean carfax's. And post the vin here before you buy, I have some resources of my own.

And if your in Phoenix by that chance I can go with you and check the potential cars out. I've seen em, and I know what to look for in particular.

One more thing, the under side of the hood is supposed to be flat with no clear coat, when the replace them or repaint them there is a tendency to shoot it with clear, that should be a dead give away. And to be fair some have removed stickers and the H logo to give a shaved look, the vin tags are the best indicator.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you !

Ricky,

Thank you very much for your detailed response ! Here is the VIN number. JHMZE13751T001165 (If you find anything please do let me know. )

I will take your advice to check for VIN tags and their locations, plus the other suggestions you gave. The Carfax the dealer sent me is clean. It indicates the car only had one owner. The dealership that is selling it has offered it at a good price. I've never bought from a dealer in my life, so I'm cautious.

I guess if I just do my homework and keep reading posts here on InsightCentral I should do OK. I'm in the Bay Area, CA so I couldn't ask you to come check it out with me, but thanks anyway !

Regards,
~David :)
 

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Well it's not on my list so check it out, otherwise it's looking good. Good luck.
 

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Wrecked car repair tip-offs

If the car is offered at a good price, a collision that's been repaired by a top quality shop & repair expert is probably okay. After all, a quality repair is essentially a hand-crafted piece of work. That said, here's some tips to look for that would indicate sloppy (read: cheap) collision repair work:
In good lighting, and with a clean surface, sight along all the panels and look for any waves in them. Look very carefully around and under panel edges for any over-masking or under-masking, or over-spray during the re-painting process. Look inside the wheel-wells for overspray, OR, fresh undercoating, unevenly applied. Does the paint match on all the panels? Look from different angles. Look for fine (bondo) dust lodged in the instrument cluster, and other interior nooks and crannies. Inspect the door, fender, and major component bolts to see if they show signs of beign removed: i.e; Do the bolt heads still have crisp corners, and/or unmarred paint. (A power socket wrench will leave a faint ring around the bolt head upon the washer.)
Look at the engine compartment, and trunk compartment inner sheet metal panels (remove the trunk liner to see into the spare tire well) for any signs of wrinkles or suspiciously uneven areas, that may've been covered with body filler. Use a mirror & flashlight to peek into the places where repairs wouldn't have been as thorough.
Also check every light & switch possible, to be sure they all operate as advertised. Be sure to check the tires for uneven wear pattern, and pulling - that would indicate alignment problems.
This tour should help to turn up any collision work that's been repaired less than top-quality. Use your intuition also, and, if verification is desired, take it to a high quality body shop (porsche, mercedes, bmw) and have their top body technician scour it for your assurance.
Good luck & have fun with your new wheels! Berk
P.S. Don't forget to look at your fuel gauge at least once-a-month!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks !

Thanks again Rick for your advice. And thanks Berk for all the tips on what to look for. I bought the Insight yesterday and though I haven't given it a fine tooth comb inspection, I'm pretty certain it never had any body work done to it. I'll use your posts as my instructions when I go over the car more thoughoughly this week.

I'll be posting soon on this site about my new baby !

~David
 

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Well the carfax is definatly clean... Im very jealous... :D Have fun! BTW... If you dont mind, did you get it at a good deal?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Did I get it at a good deal ?

I'm almost embarrassed to say what a good deal I got. In fact, I suffered anxiety the night before I bought it because I was sure there was something wrong with the car. But so far at least, it seems like a good car.

I found this Insight on Autotrader.com. I searched nationwide, but really only was interested in cars in California. Up popped a listing at Hanford Ford Mercury Dealership, but they didn't have a price listed. So I followed the links to their website, and found they were offering a 2001 Red Insight (manual) for $8,995 ! The car has 56,000 miles on it, admittedly a bit high, but what a price !

I also found a similar year and milage automatic silver Insight at a dealership here in Marin County. They were asking $13,900, which I found to be not all that much higher than most Insights nationwide.

Immedietly I started wondering why the Hanford car was so cheap. Had it been in an accident ? Was it a lemon ? Etc. The dealer was very nice, and explained they had received this car in a multicar trade with another dealership in the area. But they couldn't sell it because there is no market for Insights in Hanford (Between Fresno and Bakersfield). Though suspicious, I had to agree that this sounded plausible.

I talked him down $500 and paid, "out the door" (incl. tax, license, fees) $9,347.50 ! On top of this, I got a great interest rate from my credit union at 3.95%.

I rejected their extended warranty offer as it is still under Honda's original warranty for major components like the battery up to 80,000 miles. I considered it, but since I'm a gambling man, and I am a strong believer in Honda's technology, I decided to save my money.

It does have some minor problems. A few chips of paint that were incorrectly touched up by the previous owner. It needs new floor mats and to have the seats cleaned. Surprisingly the car was not all that clean at the dealership. I counted this as a good sign.

It needs new wiper blades, front and rear (suggestions welcome !) and I plan to replace the stereo and speakers (using this site for recommendations). I also will have the oil changed with the right stuff, just in case the dealership put the wrong oil in there.

Otherwise this is a beautiful car with a straight body for an incredible price. I may just have gotten lucky !

Cheers !
 

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For retail price that's pretty good. Seems like for some reason dealerships get "stuck" with them and can't sell them and often times end up dumping them cheap.
 
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