Piston Slap: Because Nobody Lies on Craigslist!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap because nobody lies on craigslist

Walt writes:

Mr. Mehta,

I am seriously considering purchasing a 1965 Mustang Fastback from a private seller on craigslist. He owes $3000 on the vehicle. I myself will have to take out a loan to pay for said car. The title to the car is held by the same institution that will be lending me the money. The situation is somewhat further complicated because this institution has no local branches to sit down with a representative and the current payer on the car to do the necessary paperwork. Compounding the issue is the fact that I live in a different state, 200 miles from the car’s location.

Bottom line, I would like to know how to go about this to achieve these objectives:

— My money goes to the rightful person or institution

— I get the proper paperwork to take possession of the vehicle

— The seller is legally compelled and bound to sign the title over to me when I have paid my loan

— I minimize my trips to and from the car’s location

This is my first ever car purchase (worry not, I own another reliable car) so please let me know if I have my facts wrong about the process. Provided these circumstances are not completely heinous and indicative of a potentially bad situation for me, I would like to move forward with my purchase.

Sajeev answers:

OMG…did I really just read that?

Everything here sounds like a unique twist on the typical craigslist scam. If you can’t get a trustworthy, third-party local to sort out this complete Charlie Foxtrot, run like hell. I see nothing worth pursuing in your letter…and not just because I think Fox Mustangs are better than any Pony Car from the 1960s.

And FWIW, needing a loan to buy a classic money pit is a horrible idea. And that’s putting it mildly! If you can’t afford it now, how on earth can you afford the repairs that will come sooner rather than later? Everything can and will go bad, even the new parts you put on could be defective…it happens all the time!

Come on, Son! Even if the craigslist seller is on the level, you have to pass this one up until your savings account matches your passion for antique vehicles.

(Offline Update from Walt: In the end I decided to pass on the car. Too much money and too much of a hassle for what was being offered. I read TTAC daily and enjoy your articles, so keep up the good work!)

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
2 of 63 comments
  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Aug 07, 2013

    I have sold and purchased many car off Craigslist. You do have to do your home work and know the car you are buying. Some of the fastest transactions i have had selling cars was with Craigslist. Yes their are scams but if you use common sense you can do all right. I live in Queens NY and 3 months ago i purchased in New Jersey a very low mileage 1991 Mazda Miata in great condition. Most of these cars were purchased new by people in their retirement years and ended up parked in their garage until they passed away and the family just wants to get rid of car because they they think it is worthless. New Tires and a little work to get things in order and you have a car you can enjoy driving. I can not get over how simple these cars are. It is a joy to work on them compared to the newer cars. I have purchased new cars, CPO cars and used cars. I still think a well cared for used car is the best buy. If you don't know anything about cars bring along someone who knows cars and you can have a fun afternoon.

  • Nick Nick on Aug 07, 2013

    As a word to the wise, trader.ca is infested with misleading ads. They are shifting a bit away from cars to boats, so be careful out there.

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.