|Bozo was here.|
More often than I wish, I have ended up uncovering details that are unimpressive. These are details below the surface ... behind a door panel, under the dash, inside the upholstery. Once you detect these flaws, they are glaring and annoying because it's clear an idiot worked on the car at one point. I call this the Bozo Factor.
It's now part of a checklist that I tick off in my head as I assess any car I'm considering. What will be the hidden frustration factor? How easily can issues be corrected on this model of car? Does the owner seem conscientious? What are the known unknowns?
The rule of thumb is that you are not just buying a car; you're buying the owner. Frankly, it's also a strong argument for purchasing a low-mileage unrestored car, even at a premium.
Mind you, on rare occasions, the opposite occurs. I recall one incident a few years ago when I unscrewed something a mechanic had recently installed. I immediately detected that the screw had been oiled before being installed. Who goes to this kind of effort except an anal-retentive owner? This mechanic did.
And perhaps just as telling, he's no longer in business.