Buying used? Add a buyer’s check

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A day after a WCIA investigation into The Auto Mall of Champaign’s shut-down, one car mechanic is urging potential used-car-buyers to save themselves some trouble — and possibly money — by getting a buyer’s check.

Darren Dollinger said he’s been working on cars “pretty much all of my life.”

And as the owner of Dollinger Auto Repair in Champaign, he’s done a number of pre-purchase checks on cars from The Auto Mall of Champaign.

“When it comes to doing buyer’s checks, I’ve gotten to the point now where I tell people, ‘Don’t tell me where you’ve gotten this vehicle from before it gets here,'” he said. “Because if they tell me it’s the Auto Mall, I’m just automatically going to tell them, ‘Don’t buy it.'”

The process goes something like this: there’s a visual “walk-around of the car” to spot any noticeable damage. Dollinger said “it’s amazing that people don’t realize a car has been in an accident.” Then there’s the cursory look at wheels, tires, brakes and lighting. Eventually, what’s under the hood will get inspected, too, before the car is actually started.

Of the Auto Mall cars that Dollinger’s put through this process, he said, only one has made it further than five minutes into the inspection.

“A lot of times, it’s five minutes and I just look at the people and I’m like, ‘I’m not even going to charge you for the buyer’s check,'” he said. “‘Take this thing back, run as fast as you can. It does not need to be on the road. That’s how bad it was with the Auto Mall.”

The Auto Mall of Champaign is currently out of commission — it’s lot cleared and entrances blocked.

But earlier Thursday, Auto Mall vehicles were put up for auction at a car-dealers-only event at Manheim Chicago in Matteson. More than 230 vehicles were sold at the event, which drew participants from across the state.

WCIA’s Target 3 team will continue to investigate where the cars ended up — and what kind of condition they were in when sold.

In the meantime, to prevent getting a car that’s been tampered with, Dollinger urges people to shell out the little bit of extra cash for a pre-check.

“I know it costs money, but if you think about it, you’re getting ready to plunk down your tax return check, or your Christmas bonus, or you’ve saved up a bunch of money for your first car — spending $150 to get a buyer’s check by somebody that is competent and sees problems on a regular basis — if they see the car and don’t find the problem, you’re only out $150 bucks.”

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