Hammer Time: The Nazi New Car Dealer Inspection

What happens when you get a 31 year old Toyota Camry inspected by a new car dealership? About $4000 in suggested repairs!

bySteven Lang| UPDATED Mar 1, 2017 12:34 PM
Hammer Time: The Nazi New Car Dealer Inspection

The transmission shifter had a scratch on it. Just a scratch small enough to be the tip of the finger. 

The dealer recommended replacing that for $395. Why? Because God forbid you ever have a scratch on a 31 year old car that you bought for $365. 

Nobody wanted this piece of rolling nostalgia at the auction except me. After all, who wants a 31 year old car? I put this Toyota Camry on sale for $1300 this past Friday. It's a surprisingly decent car and with folks getting their tax returns, I figured this would be the right.  

The engine runs. The transmission shifts. By the grace of the Southern Gods the A/C actually works, and the wheels are still round enough to do the basic job of rolling on pavement.

As far as ancient beaters go it's not a bad car. 191,000 miles. Just a bit over 6,000 miles a year. It was actually owned by a young family man who worked at an auto repair shop up here in North Georgia. Yes, the interior is as dirty as Jimmy Swaggart's sins and the exhaust is as non-existent as my 44-year-old hairline. But we don't have emissions out here in Deliverance country. 

What we do have is a thriving movie industry that pays $150 a day for someone to bring their old car, park it. read a book since cell phones aren't allowed, and eat free gourmet food. 

That's what my wife has done for years. She had been in the film industry before becoming a full-time mom, and my ability to purchase older than dirt trade-ins that were reasonably well taken care of allowed her to have a paid one day vacation twice a month. On those days I'm Mr. Mom and she's driving cars to movie sets that want Malaise Era rides.

So what's changed? Kids. We're planning on fostering kids in addition to raising our two teens, which means that the Camry has to go. My daughter Amanda is not into cars, yet, and my son just turned 14 and will have to wait at least two years before planning his own version of hookie at school.

So I'm ready to sell it, but the buyer insisted on having it looked at by a dealership. What did they find? Sigh!!!

The hood has as many bends and dips as a Colorado mountain road.  It obviously and needs to be replaced and painted. That's $1278.

The rear main seal has a minor leak after 31 years. $827

The driver side window is off-track. $454.

Apparently in order to have this car meet the elite standards of the local inspection Nazis, I'll have to fork over $3864.23. 

My decision is going to be pretty easy. I'm selling this Camry for the same price as a Chinese scooter. It's transportation that just happens to drool as it rolls. As long as the check engine light doesn't come on and the A/C is cold enough, it's worth $1300 to someone out there.

So what about you? Have you ever been given the Third Reich treatment by a repair shop? Any recommendations that were based on the shop owners insatiable desire to finance a yacht?

Feel free to share your story. All the best!