My guide to buying a car off of Craigslist

At times I feel bad for Autotrader when it comes to the used car market as they have suffered with the advent of Craigslist’s classifieds section.  I look at used cars all the time; many mornings I’ll spend about 30 minutes just looking at cars for sale over a cup of coffee as I never know when I’ll find a deal.  I’ve also helped many people over time who bought a used car from a Craigslist ad to figure out what the new ride is in need of.  Unfortunately, I usually see these cars after the deal is done.  Some get lucky and some wind up in a world of hurt.  So before you go out test driving, I thought I’d give you a little guide on how to read Craigslist ads, what to look for, and how to proceed once you think you’ve found a good candidate. (more…)

They don’t make ’em like they used to . . .

In 1986 Kenny Rodgers released his 14th album, ‘They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To’ and proved the old adage correct as it peaked at number 16 on the Country charts, his worst album ranking in 10 years.


‘They don’t make ’em like they used to’ has perhaps been applied to the automotive industry more than any other and people have been saying this about cars for the last 50 years. (more…)

Want a Classic Car on a Budget? Here’s 5 of ’em

While at the Scottsdale Auctions a few weeks ago I was pretty amazed at the amounts of money that was being thrown at the cars on stage.  Fifteen years ago when I first got into cars, there was a lot of opportunity for a young guy who was short on cash to acquire a classic import for little money.  Before my obsession with BMWs began, I picked up a 1974 VW Westfalia camper bus for about $800 and it actually drove under it’s own power and had a great interior.  Sure, the paint was bad, it leaked oil, and the rear brakes needed to be gone through, but I was into a classic ride for $800 that I could actually use.  Feeling reminisant, I looked for a similar one to mine on eBay to see what’s out there.  Well, here’s what’s out there . . . (more…)

Auction Week – 72 Hours in Scottsdale

I’ve just finished my annual trip to Scottsdale, AZ for what is a crazy 72 hours packed full of cars being auctioned off, none of which I can afford.  What makes this trip fun for me is the company, as I’m typically with about 5 guys that can afford to play this game and it becomes what resembles a fishing trip in the middle of the Pacific. If you aren’t familiar with the different auctions, here’s a break-down:

Gooding & Company – The Elite. If you’re on a limited budget, this ain’t the place.  Really nice cars and a well organized event.  They take their time with each lot up for bid.

RM Auctions – Very similar to Gooding but with a much better location

Bonhams – Another high-end auction with very expensive cars, but not quite as flashy or over-exposed as the other two

Russo and Steele – If you are on a budget and not looking for anything fancy this is the place.  Lots of cars with tons of variety in every price point.  The cars go through quick so do your homework and don’t get caught in the bathroom when it is time to bid.

Barrett-Jackson – The Circus.  It is the epitome of over-indulgence and you’ll see more sheet metal and silicone implants on display than you could ever hope for.

After my first trip, I was pretty worn out with all the running around and the desert air playing games with my sinuses. A year later I was ready to get off the plane and hand my luggage to the first cabbie that volunteered a ride at ground transportation at PHX.

stables2 (more…)

HID Xenon Upgrade Kit – What you need to know


There’s a ton of stuff on eBay that you can slam into your car and one of the best sellers out there are HID Xenon upgrades for earlier model cars, or for cars that did not originally come with Xenon style lighting.  These kits are actually pretty cool and very effective when properly used, and an absolute disaster when not applied properly.  So, before anyone gets crazy and starts clicking away on eBay, we need to make sure that you can actually benefit from one of these kits, and it’s all about the light housing and how your car was set up.  There are basically two types of light housings, and how they distribute light from the bulb. (more…)

Costco Gas? Sure, why not!



Throughout my career I’ve seen countless cars come to me with various ‘Check Engine’ lights or ‘Service Engine Soon’ lights.  Roughly 1/3 of those cars suffered from bad gas.  The top two offenders?  Costco and military bases (we’re in San Diego, so it comes with the territory).  The first question out of my mouth to most of these customers was ‘Are you buying gas from Costco or the base?’  If they answered yes, I’d clear the light and prescribe a full tank of Chevron and all of a sudden things were back to normal.  Bad Gas.

Hell froze over last March when Costco re-vamped their fuel product by qualifying for ‘Top-Tier’ status. In all honesty, I didn’t discover Costco’s new found love for quality gasoline until my buddy Pat bought it to my attention (he’s a car guy and my go-to beer expert).  After 15 years of warning folks about getting gas from Costco, I can actually say that not only is it OK to get gas from Costco, but that they sell very high quality gas! Go ahead and fill ‘er up!  (I’m twitching a bit as I type that). (more…)