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first car fixing and selling project

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New User

Apr 27, 2011, 3:24 AM

Post #1 of 10 (2551 views)
post icon first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Hi everyone,

I'm a 28 year old computer engineer, currently voluntarily unemployed, and planning a trip to New England for leisure purposes.

Where I live I'm a public transportation user, and when I travel I usually rent a car. However, given my status, I am planning to stay longer than usual (5 to 8 weeks), and the costs of renting for such a long time are bigger than my budget allows for. I am thus considering buying a second-hand car, fixing and improving it as much as I will be able to, and selling it before I leave at a reasonable profit.

I believe I am a fast and autonomous learner in regard to all things technical. I've been interested in auto mechanics for a long time without having the time to delve into it up to now. I am willing to spend a lot of time doing the required reading and research in order to achieve this project, and I think I would enjoy doing so, it would be like starting a new hobby for me. I enjoy learning for myself, and I am the type of guy who asks for help in understanding his problems, as opposed to requesting solutions from other folks.

However, my experience with under-the-hood automobile issues is very minimal. I also know very little about the economic and commercial aspects that relate to motor vehicles, so I will be seeking some advice in that field as well as purely technical help.

In a nutshell, I'm wondering if this is the right forum for me. I'm perfectly willing to hear that it isn't, and that it is a purely technical-focused place.
More precisely, I am wondering whether there would be people in this forum who would be willing to counsel me with the buying part of my project: steering me clear of brands or models for which the spare parts are too hard or expensive to purchase, giving me a general idea of the consumer demand for certain models so I can manage to sell the thing before I leave, etc. etc.

And although it might be premature at this point, I am also interested in hearing opinions on how realistic this idea sounds.

Thanks for reading ! All answers, reactions, observations and pointers will be greatly appreciated.

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Apr 27, 2011, 4:40 AM

Post #2 of 10 (2537 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

I can't speak for the others here but my experience in dealing with engineers has never been good. Maybe someone else here wants to jump off that cliff.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Apr 27, 2011, 4:52 AM

Post #3 of 10 (2533 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Where in New England are you heading?

Dang if I forget the name of about hourly car rentals in Metro Boston as it so expensive to own a car for just parking. Where will you work on a used car and how are you going to bring even basic tools here?

You won't make $ with this idea as just cost's of owning it are insane except perhaps New Hampshire.

What if you have the misfortune of a used car needing a transmission job or head gasket job - you'll think a rental is cheap. Takes years to train for this and $50-$100,000 bucks in equipment then a place to work.

If you still want to gamble on this hit Craigslist now to check initial costs of popular cars, low miles and no accident history. You might get lucky but you'll need to find a car 1/2 it's realistic value to come close. Never mind the mechanical stuff, clean cars sell the best. How fast? Who knows?

Appreciate ambition but do this at your home base not on vacation or you'll lose you shirt,

This and other sites all over the place you can get some good basics but there's no replacement for hands on training IMO,


Veteran / Moderator
re-tired profile image

Apr 27, 2011, 7:24 AM

Post #4 of 10 (2527 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

We would appreciate you reading the forum rules on posting . We are here to assist you in diagnosing and repairing you personal vehicle . Rambling statements that you have posted on several sites do not meet that criteria. You are welcome to use the site as intended.


Veteran / Moderator
zmame profile image

Apr 27, 2011, 3:24 PM

Post #5 of 10 (2520 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

You need a basic understanding of how a car works I would recommend this book.

Automotive Technology: A System Approach by:Jack Erjavec

It's ASE approved.. Its good place to start to learn and understand how are cars works. You can't fix somthing if you don't know how it works. It will give you a basic understanding of how it works, but you need to get your hands dirty and play around with the stuff or you'll never learn. I wouldn't pick a everyday driver to learn on though. Also need a good assortment of tools, most of the specialty tools can be loaned from parts retailer.

Hope this helps best of luck.

New User

Jun 6, 2011, 4:33 AM

Post #6 of 10 (2458 views)
post icon Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Thank you for your answers.

re-tired, I must say I've looked everywhere I could think of, used the forum search engine, and a Google search restricted to this domain, to find the forum rules, without success. I apologize for violating them; could you please point me to their location ?

zmame, Jack Erjavec seems like quite the author for all things automotive. I'll definitely get hold of his book, regardless of whether I'll succeed in launching my project or not. Thank you for the reference.

In reaction to what I've been told here and elsewhere, I've changed my initial idea somewhat. As I do not have a budget for purchasing tools, nor do I have a proper place to work on a car, I'm thinking of offering some kind of partnership with a skilled mechanic in the Springfield, MA area. The general idea would be to split the profit on the sale with that person, in exchange for his or her expertise, tutoring and lending of tools and workplace. I could handle things like shopping for parts, the actual labor by his/her guidance, looking up information on the web or in books, and the salesmanship.

Does that seem more realistic, and fair enough to be of interest to a professional mechanic ?

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 6, 2011, 5:23 AM

Post #7 of 10 (2453 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Your quote from first post ">>However, my experience with under-the-hood automobile issues is very minimal.<<"

No tools, no budget and no experience. People who do this and have for a biz have a hard time making money and going out of biz wholesale now! Without a dealer's license you'll pay full sales tax, have to register and insure the car in Mass., $75 bucks for a title and pay excise tax of 2.5%. Oh and if less than so old or so many miles are obligated to offer a warranty.

What in your wildest holucinations make you think you can make money, find a shop that I seriously doubt is going to loan tools or help you on speculation of a profit?

Even if you find a decent car for free you'll have trouble making a dime unless you are well set up to give this a shot.

Sringfield, Brimfield and Monroe Mass just got destroyed by tornados - better off to find work to help fix up that mess than the car biz IMO,


New User

Jun 6, 2011, 6:22 AM

Post #8 of 10 (2450 views)
post icon Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Thank you for your candor, Tom. Although it it quite discouraging, at least I had a good laugh with your reply.

I wasn't aware about the obligation to offer a warranty on less-than-very-used vehicles. Is this something different than the Lemon Law ?

I suppose I simply believe in my ability to learn, to be of assistance, in other words to create value. I also have other skills I can share in exchange, mainly in the field of computing and local networks, obviously.

(This post was edited by lbc on Jun 6, 2011, 6:22 AM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 6, 2011, 7:51 AM

Post #9 of 10 (2445 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

The rules vary widely state by state but are nasty here on the seller. No joke - it is illegal for automobiles to use the words "as is" -- all depending on age and miles on the vehicle.

Done car flips so many times I can't count over decades now but got them for nothing or so cheap it left a lot of room for fixing up.

Now - if you buy a car wholesale from another place and go back with it that could change it all. Keep in mind that I already had the space, tools ($100K+ easy) -- and still tough to turn a buck.

Helps to choose the right vehicle to begin with or could lose right out of the gate.

Best chance of making a buck is to acquire dirt cheap which dealers usually can but for one car that couldn't pay off. Private sales are fine and no warranty which can be done with proper wording here on a bill of sale.

Just FYI - what seems to sell vehicles best is super clean meaning no stickers, odors, stains, waxed up organized clean trunk, ash trays spotless glove box with nothing but the owner's manual and a clean title. Low miles really helps and IMO not well reflected in book values.

One more - no telling how long it will take to sell when ready,



Jun 6, 2011, 7:44 PM

Post #10 of 10 (2436 views)
Re: first car fixing and selling project Sign In

Tom- how was the landing? Cliff diver

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