I have a confession that will immediately invalidate my Jalop credentials - due to where I went to college and where I live, I've never had the opportunity to buy my own car. Of course, this doesn't stop me from looking through craigslist and Ebay Motors for a low-miles Roadmaster wagon, dreaming about the day I finally leave this city behind and move to a place where I can buy 4 beaters in a day cram them all into my driveway. This will happen on day one, so I have to be prepared.

This leads me to my ignorant question(s) - how do you go about inspecting a car you want to buy? If you're in another state, I know you can call up a local shop and pay someone to look at it for you, but how do you know if they're trustworthy? On the flip side, given that it's a seller's market, how do you ask a local seller for permission to get it looked at without them deciding its not worth the hassle and waiting for a straight-up offer?