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Used Car Terms And What They Really Mean

Posted in Beater Cars, Car Buying, Collector Cars, Cool Stuff, eBay Motors, FAIL, Funny, General, How To, Used Cars by Kurt Ernst | July 20th, 2010 | 4 Responses |

If you’re trolling Craigslist, eBay or AutoTrader looking for a new ride, you’ve probably seen dozens of different terms used to describe used cars. I’ve bought and sold my share of used cars, so I know a thing or two about the terms and what they REALLY mean. In the interest of helping you shop for your next set of wheels, I’ve compiled a list of the most common phrases below. I hope this helps you decide between that “creampuff” Road Runner and the “no disappointments” ‘Cuda.

Low mileage - I couldn’t actually drive the car since it’s been in the shop so often.

Original owner - I’ve been trying to offload this piece of shite for years without any success.

1966 Volkswagen Beetle

Future collectible - I have unrealistic expectations about the cars value.

Porsche 356

Creampuff - The interior occasionally smells like rotting dairy products, generally after it rains.

Service history included - I found the Pep Boys receipt for my last air freshener, and I think I have a few Jiffy Lube receipts somewhere.

Needs nothing - Except for a valve job, a bottom end rebuild, paint, upholstery and electrical work. See, “Future Collectible”

Has racing history - It’s been wrecked so often that there isn’t a straight panel left on the body.

Lots of upgrades - I’m trying to pass along the cost of the cold air intake, header and exhaust system that actually made the car slower.

Lowered suspension - I took three inches off the springs with a hacksaw, so you’ll hit the bump stops on anything other than glass-smooth pavement.

New tires - Well, they were new when I put them on five years ago. Ignore the dry rot and they almost look new; hey, they still hold air.

Professionally rebuilt motor - I paid an eight ball and loaned the guy my girlfriend for the night, so I can guarantee the work is top notch.

No disappointments – For me anyway, if you actually agree to pay money for this heap o’ shite.

Must see - I can’t begin to describe how rough the car really is, so you need to see it in the flesh to fully comprehend my desperation.

Clean condition - I ran it through a car wash. Once. Ten years back.

Factory certified - The sweatshop behind my house will certify that they’ve seen this thing parked in my driveway for the last five years.

Won’t last - Unless someone buys it soon, chances are good it will rust into oblivion.

Motivated seller - I’ve finally realized I won’t recover the money I spent on parts (see “Lots of upgrades”) and need to raise bail money. For my mom.

Limited edition - I pinstriped it myself and bought “Type R” badges from eBay. See, “Future collectible”.

ABS - Could mean Antilock Braking System, but probably means, ”Ain’t Buying Shit” until I unload this lemon.

PS - Could mean Power Steering, but probably means, “Piece of Shite”

PB - Could mean Power Brakes, but probably means, “Potentially Boned” if I can’t sell this dog soon.

Cold A/C - The air conditioning worked fine the last time I tested it. In 1985.

Restoration nearly complete - Except for rebuilding the motor, body work and a new interior. See “Needs nothing”.

Solid Florida car - Didn’t float away after the last hurricane, although it was under water for a few weeks. See “Creampuff”

As is, no warranty - I’ll be skipping town as soon as your cash hits my hand, so good luck tracking me down when you throw a connecting rod. At the end of my driveway.

Recent tuneup - I cleaned the mouse nest out of the air cleaner, and made sure there was oil in the crankcase.

Divorce forces sale - My wife is going to be pissed when finds out I sold her car, but that’s what she gets for banging her golf instructor.

Rust free car - The whole body is covered in Bondo an inch thick

Numbers matching car - At least two of the numbers on the cars VIN agree match numbers on the car’s engine.

Car needs little to be perfect - Little except a new motor, new wiring harness, new transmission, etc. See “Restoration nearly complete”

Clear title - I tried to use white out where it read “Salvage”

Too many upgrades to list - If I really thought about all I’ve spent on this money pit, I’d eat a bullet.

There’s no way I can cover all of the terms you’re going to encounter, so feel free to reply with any I missed. I’ll tell you what they really mean, so you can make an educated purchase decision – think of it as a public service from your truly.

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4 Responses

  1. Set says:

    “Too many upgrades to list – If I really thought about all I’ve spent on this money pit, I’d eat a bullet.”


  2. anon1 says:

    i enjoy this site. nice content different from jalop

  3. Rob Saunders says:

    MINT – What the seller wants you to pay. It’s no indication of the actual condition of the car.
    ORIGINAL PAINT – Yes the car originally did have paint on it’s body. However it’s been covered with house paint applied with a brush.
    NEVER SEEN RAIN – Don’t turn on the radio because if rain is forecast it will break down.
    NEEDS WORK – Self explanatory.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Duuude, seriously amazing post!!