Tips, Tricks & Trends

Maintenance Tip: Check This Before Buying a Car or Pulling a Car Out of Storage

Many years ago, I worked with a Buy Here Pay Here Lot that did their own repossessions and running back and forth to auctions. I never liked the repossession side of the business. But, running back and forth to auctions was something I enjoyed. However, I learned something very important for someone that takes part in both actions, the repossessions and auction runs. It has to do with being prepared for maintenance.

Learning that maintenance is important

Passenger front quarter view of a burgundy and gray 2005 Hyundai Tucson parked with the hood up.
2005 Hyundai Tucson | HJ Pizarro

Thankfully, this never happened to me. But, I heard enough stories from my co-workers to learn from their mistakes. And, mistakes are not something you want to be doing when you’re in the middle of repossessing someone’s car or at an auction miles away from help. 

You see, when you go to pick up vehicles, you never know what kind of condition they are in, or what maintenance needs to be done before moving them. My co-workers learned and expressed to me that you don’t go to a repossession or the auction without first preparing. Preparing for what?

Lack of a maintenance mindset leads to trouble. 

More than likely, the cars you are going to pick up have been sitting for a while or have not been taken care of. So, hopping in and driving away is not always possible. First, you must check your fluids. Then you test your brakes. Those two things will give you an idea if any maintenance needs to be done before moving the vehicle. Otherwise, you end up doing what this guy did in the video below.

In the video, this gentleman’s classic car was in storage. So, it had been sitting for a while. He decided to show off a bit and burn a little rubber in it. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that his brakes weren’t working until it was too late. He already had a little momentum in the car and couldn’t stop it. As you see in the video, the end result is a beautiful car that now has damage. In short, his lack of a maintenance mindset ended up costing him dearly. 

When it comes to cars, always be prepared

A tool kit of basic maintenance
A tool kit for basic maintenance | Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

RELATED: Winter Maintenance Survival: How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Weather Driving

Here’s the bottom line. Before getting into a vehicle that is not yours, or that has been sitting in storage, come prepared to do some maintenance. We never went to the auction or to do repossessions without containers of antifreeze, brake fluid, gasoline, and some hand tools. In fact, for the repossessions, we also had a chase vehicle. That doesn’t mean weird stuff doesn’t happen. It still does. But, at least we were better prepared for it. 

If there is anything that you come away with from this article, I hope it is that having a maintenance tool kit for your car is important. But, more so, I hope you learn from my co-workers’ errors by making sure to check out a car before putting it through its paces. This is especially more important if it has been sitting for a while or is unfamiliar to you, such as when you prepare to purchase a used vehicle. Safe travels my friends!