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Things to know before you buy!

mrivc211

Well-Known Member
#1
I bought a Cessna 152 in 2016 and a 172 last month. Here are some mistakes that I made and things to look out for.

No matter how much you are friends with the owner get a pre buy inspection done by a mechanic that has no relation to the owner. The 152 I bought was recommended to me by the owners mechanic. Since the seller, the mechanic, and me weren't going anywhere long term, I figured if there was anything wrong with the plane, they would tell me. Turns out the mechanic wasn't doing annuals as thoroughly as he should have because he was friends with the seller. When I did the first annual on the 152, I ended up replacing so many items that a simply $2,000 annual turned into a $6,000+ job.

I replaced:
the attitude indicator(17 years old)
The Directional Gyro
The vacuum pump(it went out)
Found out the 152 has an AD for valve adjustment every 100 hours
two new tires
Ignition Harness Wires
New Battery
Repair a leak on intake manifold which was causing the engine to turn off below 1000 RPM
Rebuilt Carburetor(the same mechanic told me I needed this done but then found out it was the intake leak that was causing the engine to turn off below 1000 RPM.
New Spark Plugs
Oil Change
Oil Filter Change
Interior Dome light
Landing Light
Remove ailerons, sand off corrosion, primer and paint to save the airframe
Opening of drain holes below the belly that had been plugged for years.
Two new Push to Talks
GPS Inop
New Oil Cooler
New Cylinder

All these items needed replacement and were being looked over by the mechanic because they were friends. The one thing that saved me on this purchase was that I under paid by about $5,000 and the value of the aircraft skyrocketed to double what I paid for it so if and when I ever sell, I'll still be ahead.

I just recently bought a 172 and had my rear handed to me on a plate by a shady mechanic on the field(seller). More on that later....
 

BigZ

Well-Known Member
#2
Also do a title search and try to familiarize yourself with all the one time and recurring ADs on the aircraft.
Prebuy is a prebuy, but don't expect it to be the magic solution for everything. Study the logs yourself too, note the compression trends over the last few years, oil change intervals and so forth
 

mrivc211

Well-Known Member
#3
Also do a title search and try to familiarize yourself with all the one time and recurring ADs on the aircraft.
Prebuy is a prebuy, but don't expect it to be the magic solution for everything. Study the logs yourself too, note the compression trends over the last few years, oil change intervals and so forth
Yes, forgot to mention. Download all the AD's off the FAA website and compare them to the logbook of what has been done to the plane. The seller may not be complying with an expensive AD. I got lucky in my case.
 

Cessnaflyer

Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
#5
Not sure if this is the case outside Washington, but the first airport you land at is where you will be taxed on your purchase. Could save thousands by landing in a lower taxed area first, get some fuel and off to the home airport.
 
#8
Since the seller, the mechanic, and me weren't going anywhere long term, I figured if there was anything wrong with the plane, they would tell me. Turns out the mechanic wasn't doing annuals as thoroughly as he should have because he was friends with the seller. When I did the first annual on the 152, I ended up replacing so many items that a simply $2,000 annual turned into a $6,000+ job.
About half of those items are rather minor and frequent things - simple enough that you can theoretically do them yourself (oil & filter changes, tire changes, etc). Some of the others aren't unusual for a plane that sits for any length of time (battery and spark plugs). Not shocked that an annual would miss them if they aren't reported by the owner.

But yes, good advice to check on as much as you can before you buy and negotiate accordingly
 
#9
About half of those items are rather minor and frequent things - simple enough that you can theoretically do them yourself (oil & filter changes, tire changes, etc). Some of the others aren't unusual for a plane that sits for any length of time (battery and spark plugs). Not shocked that an annual would miss them if they aren't reported by the owner.

But yes, good advice to check on as much as you can before you buy and negotiate accordingly
If an annual doesn't find a spark plug that needs to be replaced then they didn't even look at the airplane and just signed the logbook. How on earth do you do a compression check (and bore scope) without pulling the plugs?
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
#11
I bought a Cessna 152 in 2016 and a 172 last month. Here are some mistakes that I made and things to look out for.

No matter how much you are friends with the owner get a pre buy inspection done by a mechanic that has no relation to the owner. The 152 I bought was recommended to me by the owners mechanic. Since the seller, the mechanic, and me weren't going anywhere long term, I figured if there was anything wrong with the plane, they would tell me. Turns out the mechanic wasn't doing annuals as thoroughly as he should have because he was friends with the seller. When I did the first annual on the 152, I ended up replacing so many items that a simply $2,000 annual turned into a $6,000+ job.

I replaced:
the attitude indicator(17 years old)
The Directional Gyro
The vacuum pump(it went out)
Found out the 152 has an AD for valve adjustment every 100 hours
two new tires
Ignition Harness Wires
New Battery
Repair a leak on intake manifold which was causing the engine to turn off below 1000 RPM
Rebuilt Carburetor(the same mechanic told me I needed this done but then found out it was the intake leak that was causing the engine to turn off below 1000 RPM.
New Spark Plugs
Oil Change
Oil Filter Change
Interior Dome light
Landing Light
Remove ailerons, sand off corrosion, primer and paint to save the airframe
Opening of drain holes below the belly that had been plugged for years.
Two new Push to Talks
GPS Inop
New Oil Cooler
New Cylinder

All these items needed replacement and were being looked over by the mechanic because they were friends. The one thing that saved me on this purchase was that I under paid by about $5,000 and the value of the aircraft skyrocketed to double what I paid for it so if and when I ever sell, I'll still be ahead.

I just recently bought a 172 and had my rear handed to me on a plate by a shady mechanic on the field(seller). More on that later....
Your first point is absolutely critical. However, most of that stuff that you replaced is really wear and tear items and cost of doing business. I guess my view point is a little skewed working 135 airplanes that fly 1000 hours a year 20 minutes at a time.
 

Cessnaflyer

Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
#12
In Washington there is a sales and use tax. It varies in rate across the state. If you buy within the state you paid for sales tax during title transfer. If you bought it out of Washington you pay the tax rate of the first area you land in the Washington. Cities around the state have variable rates and it is cheaper to land outside the Seattle area first. Again this is for being based in Washington state that's why I said I'm not sure about other localities.

From the Washington department of revenue, ”If sales tax was not paid, use tax is due on the value of the aircraft at the time of first use in Washington.”
 
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Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
#13
If an annual doesn't find a spark plug that needs to be replaced then they didn't even look at the airplane and just signed the logbook. How on earth do you do a compression check (and bore scope) without pulling the plugs?
Spark plugs are a wear and and tear item. Replacing them shouldn't be a surprise just another line item on the consumable budget.

As an aside, it's also possible they didn't really need to be replaced, I've seen lots of spark plugs and other wear items replaced that met every relevant minimum spec but the mechanic "didn't like" them or didn't understand how to apply the manufacturers inspection criteria. And don't get me started on the waste of time and money that is spark plug resistance checks...
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
#14
Spark plugs are a wear and and tear item. Replacing them shouldn't be a surprise just another line item on the consumable budget.

As an aside, it's also possible they didn't really need to be replaced, I've seen lots of spark plugs and other wear items replaced that met every relevant minimum spec but the mechanic "didn't like" them or didn't understand how to apply the manufacturers inspection criteria. And don't get me started on the waste of time and money that is spark plug resistance checks...
Since we're on the topic. During an inspection (pre-buy or otherwise), is there any way to evaluate the health of the vacuum pump/system? Is there a way to tell that it's healthy or that a failure is imminent?
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
#16
Since we're on the topic. During an inspection (pre-buy or otherwise), is there any way to evaluate the health of the vacuum pump/system? Is there a way to tell that it's healthy or that a failure is imminent?
Some pumps have an inspection port and a procedure to measure vane wear. The best thing to do is to see how many hours are on the pump. After tracking quite a few pumps I found that in our aircraft in our operation anything past about 900 hours was borrowed time. Other installations and operational profiles might be different. Another good indicator is whether the logbooks record the 100 hour relief valve filter and 500 hour inlet filter being kept up on. Finally you can see during a ground run up some of the health of the system by noting what RPM it takes to get vacuum pressure into the green arc. If it's much more that 1000 on most systems, your vacuum system is on borrowed time.
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
#20
In Washington there is a sales and use tax. It varies in rate across the state. If you buy within the state you paid for sales tax during title transfer. If you bought it out of Washington you pay the tax rate of the first area you land in the Washington. Cities around the state have variable rates and it is cheaper to land outside the Seattle area first. Again this is for being based in Washington state that's why I said I'm not sure about other localities.

From the Washington department of revenue, ”If sales tax was not paid, use tax is due on the value of the aircraft at the time of first use in Washington.”


You pay tax on the aircraft where it is based, not the first point of landing. Given your scenario let's say you land at BFI which is in the democratic people's republic of lets tax frack out of the rich King country (ironically named isn't it?). But you hagar the airplane at Tacoma Narrows in Pierce County WA. Given your scenario you would be double taxed and have to pay tax to both counties. Which I believe is illegal. There is even a Supreme Court ruling on this.

https://www.pscpa.com/supreme-court-strikes-double-tax-structure/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/05/18/supreme-court-double-taxation/22066863/

I'm dealing with the same thing in Oregon who wants to tax my income because I fly out of PDX regularly. Tax time next year is going to be interesting.