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eastsideTim UltimaDork
6/23/22 3:14 p.m.

Maybe it's just me, but every time I see a picture of a car with an air freshener hanging off the mirror in a FB marketplace/CL ad, I automatically assume it's been smoked in, and either knock down what I may be willing to pay, or just skip it, especially if it looks like there are several of them. 

Anything anyone else gleans from pictures in ads that sets off red flags?  Another one that makes me a little leery tends to be the car being for sale in one state, with license plates from a different state.  Living near where three states intersect mean there can be a legit reason, but once I looked at a Civic with the owner in one state, the title in another state, and the license plates from a third state(so probably not registered to that car).  I passed on that one.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
6/23/22 3:29 p.m.

Spray painted black wheels or plastidip. 

Never agin. Ever.



Until I forget....

slefain UltimaDork
6/23/22 3:31 p.m.

Any fluid bottles in the trunk or back seat. Same for a funnel. Only okay if I'm looking for a project car.

Any aftermarket crap from AutoZone makes me think a teenager beat it to death.

If the area around the vehicle looks like hell in the photos, I assume the car was likewise trashed.

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
6/23/22 3:33 p.m.

Snapchat photos are an automatic disqualification for me. And they usually say something absolutely stupid. 

MiniDave New Reader
6/23/22 3:33 p.m.

The block behind one of the tires - tells me the park pawl is broken in the auto trans or the brakes have issues.

Also, when they lead with a pic of the back seat and don't show the driver's seat - which means it's torn or pretty much destroyed.

Or this in the description "perfect for restoration"  smiley


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
6/23/22 3:35 p.m.

Short of being an active crime scene, if the price is right I'm probably going to go look at it.  I'm really cheap, though.

All of the most egregiously misrepresented cars I have looked at have ended up being dealers posing as private sellers.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/23/22 3:53 p.m.

I look at the world around the photo. What their house, driveway, yard looks like tells a lot about the seller. 

Certainly signaling for neatness or economic status but broken cars in apartments or street parking can mean lowball hard because it will soon be towed. 

I too notice the air fresheners. Not only the mirror hanging type but also the AC vent type

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
6/23/22 3:59 p.m.

I called out somebody on the phone cause of a air freshener- you smoke in the car?

yes, why you ask?

really fresh paint makes me nervous 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/23/22 4:10 p.m.

Plate of shrimp. 

1988RedT2 MegaDork
6/23/22 4:33 p.m.

I just came here for the Repo Man reference.

DjGreggieP HalfDork
6/23/22 5:00 p.m.

Wait, air freshener automatically means smoker? Neat.

Anything that lists as having 'a bunch of parts to go with it' if it's NOT an obvious project car/ something rare with hard to find parts. Screams 'parts shotgunner' and things never properly diagnosed, and possibly never properly repaired,  by the seller. Obviously general maintenance items (filters, spark plugs) would be exempt. 

Driven5 UberDork
6/23/22 5:00 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Short of being an active crime scene, if the price is right I'm probably going to go look at it.  I'm really cheap, though.

When the price is right, you're more likely to find something that turns it into an active crime scene... Can still be worth it though.

NickD MegaDork
6/23/22 5:43 p.m.

"Just needs an O2 sensor" or "Just needs a fuel pump". Suuuuuure. Even more suspicious when they have the parts on hand and they come with the car.

Aftermarket radio. Guaranteed to be chock full of bad wiring that'll set the car on fire.

Steve_Jones Dork
6/23/22 6:07 p.m.

Photos taken at a gas pump. If that's all the effort you can put into selling it, gotta figure "maintenance" is not in your vocabulary. 

Uncle David (Forum Supporter)
Uncle David (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/23/22 8:16 p.m.

I deeply dislike seeing aftermarket audio equipment.

"Just needs a..."

Agree with others about checking out the background in the photos. Related: Is the season in the picture the same season it is now?

Agree with others about fresh paint = red flag

Im OK with a worn or weathered interior in an older car, but missing parts, broken parts, mismatched parts and especially general filth are all reasons to move on.  Filthy interiors = poor /no maintenance. 

Edit: Upon review, I see that all the above were already mentioned.  I'll try harder for fresh content next time.

chandler UltimaDork
6/23/22 8:25 p.m.
Driven5 said:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

Short of being an active crime scene, if the price is right I'm probably going to go look at it.  I'm really cheap, though.

When the price is right, you're more likely to find something that turns it into an active crime scene... Can still be worth it though.

I bought a car that had lots of cash under the seats and a military ID card for a guy who had been killed in a friendly fire accident during training. Explained why it had been sitting so long and the people had zero interest in keeping or fusing it up.

eastsideTim UltimaDork
6/23/22 10:32 p.m.
DjGreggieP said:

Wait, air freshener automatically means smoker?

Not a guarantee, but it sure seems very common.  More so, it seems like they're used by people who think it actually covers up the smell of their cigarette (or other) smoke.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/23/22 10:45 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:

I just came here for the Repo Man reference.

You'll find one in every thread.

flat4_5spd Reader
6/23/22 10:50 p.m.

This is a screenshot of a classified ad I recently saw. It was a Legacy or an Outback, can't remember which. FOUR? HARD PASS.

We did buy a Forester with a vent mounted air freshener from a small time dealer. Oddly, the car smells just fine 

with the air freshener removed. 

Window tint, aftermarket subs, aftermarket headlights are all red flags for me. 

eastsideTim UltimaDork
6/23/22 11:11 p.m.

In reply to flat4_5spd :

I seem to recall reading some police officer called out the Black Ice scent specifically as the usual one people who smoked weed in their car used.

I sort of agree with others regarding aftermarket audio.  If it's just a head unit, and everything else looks stock, then I don't worry too much.  Start adding subs and amps, especially with haphazard looking wiring, that crosses the line.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/23/22 11:31 p.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

Can talk Repo Man all night. :) 

Get in at 3 a.m., get up at 4. 

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) MegaDork
6/23/22 11:47 p.m.

This is hilarious, because I take care of my cars mechanically, if not always cosmetically. The car needs to work every time I turn the key first, and look good a distant second. In fact, I know more than a few folks who will clay bar their car more often than they change the oil.

I have a vent air freshener. I don't smoke, but I love the "green" scented air freshener, and it makes getting into a 150 degree F car suck a bit less until the AC drops the temp.
There is a 3.7 Ford engine sitting in my driveway (temporarily, it's about to be scrapped or melted down for the aluminum). 
I have tinted windows (see point one, above)
The sound systems are stock, though. I can't hear well, so it doesn't matter much.

My red flag: Black spraypaint or fresh coatings on the underbody. Nah, just let me see the rust and make an informed decision, thanks.
Red flag number two: Anything that says "mechanic owned." Y'all know you're doing the bare minimum to keep that hooptie moving. Fight me.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
6/24/22 12:01 a.m.

Lots of my red flags have already been mentioned. I'll add a trailer hitch on anything other than a truck, and ugly aftermarket wheels. 

Aftermarket intake, too. Window tint? I'm in Florida, glad to get it if it's good quality.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/24/22 7:46 a.m.

In reply to Uncle David (Forum Supporter) :

Good point about the photo matching current weather/season.  Here, up north, leaves on the trees or not can be a good indication. Of course, snow is a big tell tail but leaves on trees can be more subtle.  This can be a good insight into how long it's taking to sell the car.  So, the tip to sellers here is if you've got a car that sells slow, take the time to pull fresh pictures and maybe even write fresh words.  Enough to give the possible impression its a different listing. 

This thread can also be seen as "tips for a better listing"  Pull down the air fresheners, pull out the trash.  Take pictures at a neutral site if your current site is unsightly, etc. 

eastsideTim UltimaDork
6/24/22 7:49 a.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

I used to consider trailer hitches on cars a red flag, but now that it seems most bike racks use them, instead of clipping into the trunk/hatch lid edges, I've softened up on that view point.  Still, going to pay extra attention to how well the transmission seems to be working.

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