• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Archives for July 2015

What to Check When Buying a Used Car – The Ultimate 27 Point Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

DIY Auto Repair Tools eBay Site

For many people, buying a used car is daunting. No one wants to be stranded with a lemon, paying for costly repairs the day after they drive the car off the lot. Good news. Buying a used car does not need to be the crap shoot it once was. You just need to know what to look for and what questions to ask.

This 27-point checklist will show you things to check when buying a used car.

(click to enlarge graphic)

What to Check When Buying a Used Car

TwitterIconClick to Tweet Infographic

Share this Image On Your Site

What to Check When Buying a Used Car – The Ultimate 27 Point Checklist


1. How Much Car Can You Afford?

A car payment should not be more than 20% of your net take-home pay. You can use Edmund’s “How much can I afford” calculator to determine your ideal price range.

2. Research the Right Used Car for You

Finding out how much you want to spend was the easy part, now you need to identify the right used car for you.

  • First, make a list of all the things you need your vehicle to do (haul a trailer, go off-road, get great gas mileage)
  • Then make another list of items you want your car to have (color, body style, luxury items, add-ons)

Step back and look at both lists when deciding on which used car to buy. It will allow you to separate the must-haves from really-wants. This way you can make smart trade-off decisions.

3. Bring a Friend Who Knows Cars

An easy way to know what to check when buying a used car is to bring along a friend who knows cars. He or she will possibly spot red flags. If you don’t have a car-savvy friend, tell the seller you want to get a mechanical inspection. This inspection, which typically costs $150-$200, could save you from buying a lemon and being out more money. If the seller objects, odds are there is something wrong with the vehicle.

4. Make Sure the Car is Resting on Level Ground During Inspection

Check to see if the vehicle rests properly on level ground. If the car leans to one side, it might indicate a binding shock absorber or strut, a bad spring or torsion bar, bent suspension parts, or even a twisted chassis. All of these can lead to major ongoing repairs.

5. Look for Under-Body Rust and Leaking Fluids

Rust on the vehicle indicates a breakdown of metal. Over time, rust can eat through the door, floorboards, body, frame, and chassis.

  • Check underneath the car, hinges, and door edges for rust
  • Lift up the pad or carpet in the trunk and check for rust in floorboards
  • Check for leaking fluids under the car

6. Examine the Exhaust System

Black spots or greasy grime on the exhaust are big red flags. If white vapor is coming from the exhaust, you could have a blown head gasket or be burning oil. These issues may require replacing the exhaust system which can cost over $2,000.

7. Examine the Frame of the Car

Checking the frame will reveal if the car has been in an accident and is one of the most important items on the checklist for buying a used car. A damaged frame, if not repaired properly, can reduce the car’s ability to protect you in an accident.

  • Inspect the car’s “saddle” (the framework that connects the front fenders and holds the top of the radiator) to make sure it’s bolted – not welded – on both sides. Welding indicates parts were replaced after a crash.
  • Examine the bolt heads for scratch marks. These are located at the top of the fenders inside the hood.
  • Finally, inspect the door jambs for welds. Any scratch marks on bolt heads or welds to the saddle or door jambs, indicate a prior accident.

8. Inspect the Glass

Look for chips or cracks in the glass. A tiny windshield chip might not seem like a big deal, but it could spread, causing poor visibility or shattering in an accident.

Some states have laws making it illegal to drive with a cracked windshield.

Chipped Windshield

9. Does the Used Car Pass Required Smog or Emissions Tests?

Understand the smog or emissions restrictions where you live to make sure the vehicle fits the requirements. Repairing emissions is challenging even for veteran technicians and can be costly. The penalty fee for not being compliant will hurt your wallet even more.

10. What’s Under the Hood?

An important tip to buy a used car is to make sure the vehicle has been taken care of properly.

  • Check under the hood for rust, dents, visible damage, or even animals living there (it happens).
  • Examine the fenders for a decal containing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If the decals are missing, chances are that the fenders have been replaced due to an accident.

11. Inspect the Engine for any Leaks, Corrosion, Funny Sounds, or Smells

View this video to learn how to check car fluids, belts, and perform full under-hood inspection.

Dark brown oil stains on the engine block indicate a leaky oil pan gasket. Check to see if the previous owner has documentation of oil changes, radiator flushes, any repairs, or any other regularly required maintenance. Evidence of preventative maintenance can be helpful in your purchasing decision because regular maintenance extends the car’s “life.”

12. Check Hoses and Belts

The radiator hoses should not be soft or cracked. A bad radiator hose could burst, causing extensive damage to your vehicle.

Make sure belts are in good condition as well. If your serpentine belt breaks, your vehicle won’t be drivable. Make sure this one is at the top of checklist when looking at a used car.

check the car hose and belts when buying a used car

13. Check the Color of the Transmission Fluid

This is a must-check when buying a used car.The transmission fluid should be pink or red. It may appear darker in older cars, but the fluid should never look black or smell burnt. Transmission fluid level should also be full. If the transmission stops working, it may be more cost-effective to buy another car than repair the damaged car.

Transmission fluid color

14. Inspect the Interior for Unwanted Smells

When you first open the car, take a sniff. How does the car smell?

Any musty, moldy, or mildew smell could indicate water leaks or damage requiring repairs. Mold is a health hazard and may be hard to get out of the car.

Any acidic smoke could indicate the car was owned by a smoker. This smell can be difficult to eliminate.

15. How do the Seats Function & Appear?

This might not seem like the most important item on the buying a used car checklist, but you’d be surprised. Make sure the seats move and have no unsightly stains or odors. Will you be comfortable driving with the amount of head and leg room? If not, keep looking.

16. Are there any Warning Lights When You Turn on the Car?

Do any lights stay lit on the dashboard? A lit “check engine” light doesn’t always mean a serious problem. It could be due to a temporary condition such as a change in humidity or an unsecured gas cap.

Ask the seller how long it has been on, and note if the “check engine” light is solid or blinking. Generally, the latter is much more serious. A mechanic can tell you the cause by running a simple diagnostic test.

For questions regarding other lights, Auto Zone provides a handy guide.

17. Check the Brakes Thoroughly

Does the brake pedal vibrate? Does stepping on the brakes cause squealing or scraping sounds? If so, the car will require a brake repair or entire replacement. According to CostHelper.com, this could cost $130-$900.

No one wants to shell out for new brakes, rotors, and calipers right after buying a car!

18. Feel for Trepidation During Slight Accelerations

Observe the car’s performance when it reaches 45 / 55 / 65 / 75 MPH. Any trepidation might mean worn or dirty parts such as ball joints or control arms of the suspension system. Repairs could cost upwards of $1,500.

19. Listen for Vehicle Noises

Listen for clunks or other strange noises when you idle or accelerate. There should be no pings, pops, knocks, or backfires. If something doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.

20. Run the Heater / Air Conditioner / CD Player / Radio

This is a surprising, yet important tip when buying a used car. Make sure the amenities such as heat, air, radio, CD player work to your liking. While everything on this list might seem like a luxury, remember: not only do you want to get from point A to point B, but you also want to enjoy the ride.

21. Check the Car’s Make / Model Reputation

Search consumer reports, recall alerts, and news articles regarding the used vehicle you are considering. Certain vehicles had mass recalls that, if ignored, could be detrimental to your budget and safety.

22. Find a Vehicle History Report

History reports are inexpensive and provide valuable information for purchasing decisions. Reports include details on accidents, flood damage, number of previous owners, VIN verification, actual mileage, and recall checks. If you are considering buying a used car from a dealer, ask to see a vehicle history report from CARFAX or similar service.

23. Cross Check the Odometer with Preventative Maintenance Documents

The common perception has been that a car over 100,000 miles is not worth buying. The truth is, if the car was taken care of, it is very likely it can last well over 100,000 and possibly over 200,000. It’s also true that a car with very low mileage might not be a safe bet if it was poorly maintained or infrequently driven. Cars are designed to be operated on a somewhat regular basis.

Ask for preventative maintenance documentation. If regular oil changes and other maintenance were done, a car over 100,000 miles will likely last another 100,000.

24. Decode the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

When buying a used car look at the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Some scammers will replace the VIN of a stolen car with one that is legally registered. Check the VIN for consistency on all service records, history reports, title documents, and on the car itself (behind driver’s side windshield & body panels).

This VIN Decoding chart may also help.

25. Check the Tires

Examine tires for feathering, uneven wear, and diminished tread depth. These signs can indicate bad alignment or worn steering and suspension components. Remember to also check the spare tire’s tread. Not having to buy new tires can save you anywhere from $400-$800.

Diminished tread depth

26. Test Drive the Car

Test driving a used car will tell you if it is comfortable to drive and if it’s in good condition. While on your test drive, simulate the conditions of your normal driving pattern. For example, if you drive a lot on the highway make sure you take the car up to 65 mph. If you regularly drive into the mountains test the car on steep slopes and windy roads.

Bonus Tip: If there is an air freshener hanging inside the car or the interior smells like it was recently sprayed with an air freshener, open the windows. After your test drive, the car will have aired out, and you’ll get a better idea of any lingering odors.

27. Negotiate the Price

You do not have to pay sticker price. Negotiation is important when buy a used car. Know the Kelly Blue Book value of the car so you can negotiate with confidence. Consider any needed repairs and factor that cost into the offer you make.

Negotiation tips:

  • Make a low initial offer, slightly below the market values uncovered in your research
  • Decide ahead of time how high you will bid before you leave and stick to the number
  • Don’t get derailed by extended warranties or other upsells
  • Don’t negotiate if you’re tired or hungry
  • Look over all points in this checklist before you enter a negotiation and use the insights to back up your bids


Follow this checklist for buying a used car. You’ll be able to avoid the lemons and find a quality vehicle you can enjoy for many years to come! While you’re at it, check out some of the used vehicles on our eBay site by clicking below!

DIY Auto Repair Tools eBay Site

2015 Iola Old Car Show Attendee Wins 1973 Chrysler Newport

As the 43rd annual Iola Old Car Show drew a record crowd, one lucky person walked (or drove) away with a classic 1973 Chrysler Newport thanks to Rawhide Boys Ranch. While checking out the car, numerous entrants shared personal stories about Rawhide, tying generations to both the car show and the ranch.

  1. Employees from Old Cars Weekly mentioned how much they looked forward to receiving our Frontier Cookies.
  2. Some participants mentioned they’ve been attending the Old Car Show and donating cars to Rawhide for years, and that their parents have donated vehicles as well. (Thank you!)
  3. Another booth visitor had a nephew placed at Rawhide and praised the program for successfully helping the youth.



Greg and Joan Janutka visited Rawhide’s booth for the car drawing and left with a greater understanding of the Rawhide’s mission. Even though his parents have donated vehicles to Rawhide in the past, they didn’t have a grasp of how Rawhide helped troubled youth.

When they visited the booth, they actually got to meet the founder, John Gillespie who proceeded to share more about Rawhide’s programs. They left with a greater appreciation for Rawhide Boys Ranch and how it changes lives.

A Relationship that Spans Decades: Chet Krause and Rawhide

Chet Krause

As Greg and Joan Janutka mention in the video above, they have ties to both the car show and Rawhide for at least 2 generations. Likewise the relationship between Chester (Chet) Krause, the founder of the Iola Old Car Show, and Rawhide spans decades.

Chet has helped Rawhide Boy’s Ranch in many ways over the years. He first visited Rawhide in 1987 and noticed only two boys’ homes existed at the time. Chet pulled aside the founder, John Gillespie, and challenged him to develop an expansion plan with the promise that if he and his staff pulled the plan together, Chet would lead the fundraising efforts to make it a reality.

John accepted the challenge and spent the following year developing financial projections, writing practical growth and program-improvement plans, and meeting with social service and business leaders. Chet reviewed every aspect of the plan and contributed several major financial gifts. He also let Rawhide use printing resources at Krause Publications to produce their main promotional booklet.


Listen as John Gillespie tells it in his own words. We were lucky enough to have him visit our booth at the show and catch him on camera.


Giving Back to Chet Krause

Young men in Rawhide’s About Face Residential Program have been helping at the Iola Old Car Show since 2000. They set up the fences, groom the grounds, remove weeds, and do whatever else Larry Fechter, the Iola Old Car Show’s Managing Director, needs to get ready for over 100,000 attendees and thousands of cars.


The About Face guys get to attend the car show to see the fruits of their labor. One of the guys mentioned how it was a dream just to be there because he’s always liked cars. When asked which cars he liked the most he said “There are so many great ones here; it’s just really cool.”


Now, About that Car Drawing…

Several of our guys are surprisingly car buffs and were oohing and ahhing over the 1973 Chrysler, wishing they would be lucky enough to own it. The Iola Old Car Show management team drew the winning card and notified the winner. We are happy to make someone else happy. Thank you all who visited our booth and entered the drawing. We’ll be back next year!


Help Grow Rawhide’s Old Car Collection

If you missed Rawhide at the 2015 Iola Old Car Show, don’t worry, our booth will be back for 2016, and the rumor is that next year’s car show theme is “Keep on Trucking, Charge Ahead.”

Consider donating a car to Rawhide. Rawhide car donors receive 48% higher tax deductions than from other top nationwide car donation charities. Who knows? Maybe we’ll hold a drawing for another car next year!


Brett Favre Presents $40,000 Check at Legends Game

On 7-19-15, over 22,000 fans filled UW Madison’s Camp Randall stadium to see Brett Favre’s Packers Legends Game where Packers Legends took on a team of NFL All-Stars. This game followed on the heels of Brett’s induction into the Packers Hall of Fame the previous evening. Packers fans were treated to that famous Favre throwing arm once again, and he did not disappoint as he lead the Packers Legends team to victory 38-32.

Favre Presents Donations on Behalf of Favre4Hope

Prior to the game, Brett Favre presented donations on behalf of Favre4Hope to Rawhide and 3 other Wisconsin charities. The generous $40,000 donation continued Favre4Hope’s support of Rawhide over the past 10 years, including:

  1. At Chalk Talk 2014, Brett presented a Favre4Hope donation check to Rawhide.
  2. In 2013, Favre4Hope became a major sponsor for the Merrill Lynch Grand Gala, an event that supported Rawhide’s residential About Face Program.

Support from Favre4Hope has donated funding for various programs benefiting at-risk youth, and we couldn’t be more grateful for their generosity.

Favre and Other NFL Legends Relive Glory Days

After the charity presentation, players were ready to tackle the turf. As Brett Favre came out of the tunnel, he was greeted with yet another roaring, standing ovation—an almost instant replay from the previous evening on Lambeau Field.

Crucial touchdown catches by Antonio Freeman and Dorsey Levens helped the Packers while Al Harris and Nick Collins made interceptions that resembled their iconic playoff days.

Other notable players on Favre’s Packers Legends team were:

  1. Mark Chmura
  2. William Henderson
  3. Andre Rison
  4. Gilbert Brown

The NFL All Star Team featured:

  1. Donovan McNabb
  2. Ron Dayne
  3. Torry Holt
  4. Ed “Too Tall” Jones

See full roster for both teams at the Packers Legends Game web site.

Brett Favre Flag Football game

ESPN personality Kenny Mayne made a special appearance and was surprised when his team began dancing as he huddled them up between plays. It was obvious they were having fun along with the crowd.

Two Packers greats - Lofton and Henderson

Packers and Fans Win!

The Packers Legends Game ended with Brett Favre adding another victory to his 160 career wins with the Packers as he led the team in a victorious win of 38-32—proving he still has what it takes. Brett Favre’s Packers Legends Game was full of long passes, trick plays, legendary NFL alumni, fond memories, and entertainment for all. Country music star Clayton Anderson closed the night with a musical performance.

Thank You Brett Favre and Favre4Hope

Leave a message for Brett Favre and Favre4Hope.  They would love to hear from you! You may leave a comment below. Favre4Hope has provided valuable resources for Rawhide as well as other charities in Wisconsin and Mississippi since 1995. Thank you Favre4Hope as well as Deanna & Brett Favre for all you do to make the world a better place—on and off the field.

Brett Favre Hall of Fame Induction at Lambeau Field

67,000 Fans Gave a Warm Welcome

67,000 fans greeted Brett Favre with a standing ovation and thunderous five-minute “MVP” chant as he walked onto Lambeau Field. The Brett Favre Hall of Fame Induction ceremony had begun and he was welcomed “home” with open arms on July 18, 2015.

Listen to the crowd when he walked onto the turf:

“There are a lot of reasons why Green Bay is special, but the most important reason is the people.”
– Brett Favre, July 18, 2015

Welcome home sign for Brett Favre

Neighborhood sign welcoming Brett Favre home to Green Bay

There was no shortage of fan appreciation for Brett. Large signs were sprinkled throughout the neighborhood surrounding the stadium, too.

Rawhide and Brett Favre

Rawhide Boys Ranch is no exception. We were there to cheer and support him for his support of Rawhide’s mission. As you may recall, Brett joined Steve Young for a Chalk Talk in 2014. He has also been a lifelong supporter of Rawhide, contributing over $225,000 to Rawhide through his Favre4Hope organization over the last 10 years. So some of our students and staff were able to attend the event to cheer him on!

Deemed One of the Greatest Packers of All Time

“Brett, you’re the best. No question about that.”
– Ron Wolf, former General Manager of Green Bay Packers July 18, 2015

Emotional moments and entertaining stories filled the evening as the crowd heard from Brett Favre, former teammates and coaches. Brett is the sixth player in Packers history to have his number retired and the 154th member of the Packers Hall of Fame. Other Packers with their numbers retired are:

  1. Reggie White #92 in 2005
  2. Ray Nitschke #66 in 1983
  3. Bart Starr #15 in 1973
  4. Tony Canadeo #3 in 1952
  5. Don Hutson #14 in 1951

Unlike the five players before him, Favre is the first Packer to have his number retired and be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on the same night. Brett found his place alongside the greatest Packers of all time including Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, Reggie White, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Jim Taylor, and Aaron Rodgers.

“Best of Brett Favre” Videos

The ceremony organizers played video highlights of Brett’s Packer career, featuring some of the most incredible moments he brought to the game. The highlights included:

  1. Brett’s game-winning touchdown run that sent the Packers to the playoffs after coach Mike Holmgren told him not to run
  2. His gritty game against the Bears where he threw five touchdowns on a severely sprained ankle
  3. The fan favorite when Favre lead the Packers to a 41-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders the day after his father passed away, Brett passed 399 yards for 4 touchdowns, placing him in 2nd place for NFL career touchdown passes.

The list of memories Brett provided during his time in Green Bay is endless. His toughness, talent, work ethic and positive attitude have represented so much for Packers fans and the City of Green Bay over the years.

“Brett was the son I never had.”
– Mike Holmgren, former Head Coack of the Green Bay Packers July 18, 2015

Favre closed his induction ceremony by making it about others, thanking staff members that he worked with over the years by naming them all from memory.

Brett Favre in Lambeau Field at hall of fame ceremony

Brett Favre in Lambeau Field at hall of fame ceremony

How You Can Help Rawhide, Too

To continue Bart and Brett’s legacy of supporting Rawhide, consider making a charitable donation of any kind—car, boat, motorcycle, RV, cash, estate planning, endowments, and various other ways. Every donation helps fund programs that give at-risk youth a second chance.


Wooden Boats – Nautical Treasures found in Rawhide’s eBay Store

Boat Donation #1: Museum-Worthy 1928 Wooden Canoe

This wooden boat was donated to Rawhide and as it turns out is quite an historical piece from the 1920s! It’s actually a large canoe, manufactured by the Peterborough Canoe Company.

History of Wooden Canoe Industry

The Peterborough Canoe Company was founded in 1892 in Ontario, Canada and became known in the 1920s as “the standard of excellence” in small wooden boats. They even had their own lumber yard to ensure a ready supply of quality materials.

As the 1920s progressed, several other boat companies closed their doors due to fire or bankruptcy. Peterborough Canoe Company saw opportunity to grow and began purchasing struggling companies.

The Royal Wedding Gift

The company expanded their product line to include sailing dinghies, sporty motor boats, and Express Cruisers of the 1950s. One of their most memorable claims to fame was in 1948 when they presented a hand crafted 12-foot canoe to Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift

Fiberglass and Aluminum Replace Wood

Peterborough remained a fixture in wooden boats for many decades, but competition from aluminum and fiberglass canoes lead to the end of the company in 1961. It’s rare to come across a genuine Peterborough wooden canoe today, but a 1928 model recently found its way to Rawhide and is in great shape—87 years after it was built!

Adding a Motor

The 1928 Peterborough wooden canoe donated to Rawhide is one of the first Peterborough canoes to have a motor. Peterborough put a few motors in their canoes, but it wasn’t until an agreement with Johnson Motor Company that Peterborough was able to mass produce motors in wooden canoes throughout Canada. The original Johnson motor is still in this donated Peterborough canoe and the cedar rib interior remains in great condition.  This canoe has been described as “museum worthy” making it perfect for collectors as well.

Boat Donation #2: 1954 Correct Craft Wood Boat Donation


We also received this 1954 classic wooden boat donation, made by Correct Craft. Like the Peterborough Company, Correct Craft did well during the great depression by creating a reputation of making quality power boats that provided excellent performance. This Correct Craft boat donation was built during a boom in recreational boating, making it ideal for waterskiing, wakeboarding, or a relaxing day on the water. Even though it was built over 60 years ago, this Correct Craft boat is in fantastic condition and features a beautiful dark brown wood, highlighted by the perfect shade of red paint on the bottom. The Correct Craft Company has been building wooden boats since 1925 and is still in operation today.

Other Classic and Collectible Boat Donations

The 1928 Peterborough wooden canoe is one of many classic boats donated to Rawhide. To date, we’ve received:

  1. A Rare 1947 Woody Brown Catamaran, called the Manu Kai
  2. A 1969 Glass Fab Winnebago Fisherman boat – locally manufactured near the ranch
  3. Handmade boats created by an individual who is impressed with our organization and mission

Classic Wooden Boat for Sale on eBay

If you’re seeking a classic or collectible vehicle of any kind, you might just find it on our eBay store.

Look for your own treasures here!

How to Donate My Car to Rawhide

Finding a location to donate your car is not the part of the process that many people have questions about, and rightly so. This information, as well as lists of charitable organizations can easily be found with simple Internet searches, but where many people begin to have questions is the next part of the donation process – initiating the donation itself.

Making Contact

Many websites offer online forms that can be filled out to begin this process, but there are a large number of people that prefer to make contact via the phone or even in person, which is absolutely recommended. Picking up the phone to call an organization representative is as simple as can be, and the people on the other end of the phone will be available to take down information, ask questions, and set the process in motion. This initial phone call is a great time to ask questions and express concerns; the representatives will be happy to answer anything you throw their way. Some common questions include the following:

  • How to donate my car if it isn’t running
  • What do I need to do to prepare the vehicle?
  • Does my vehicle meet requirements?
  • Can I claim this donation on my taxes?

While these are only a few of the more common questions that potential donors ask, the list is by no means exhaustive – feel free to ask away! Knowing more about the process can put people at ease, especially first time donors.

Continuing the process

After speaking with the organization representative and getting the donation process started, there are things that you can do to ensure that the rest of it goes smoothly. Preparing the vehicle by removing personal items, taking off the license plates, and ensuring that things like the instruction manual, jack, spare tire, etc. are located within the vehicle must be done (if these items are available), and you can also be prepared to give maintenance records as well when the car is picked up or dropped off.

Setting up the actual donation

If you’re ready to relinquish ownership of the car right away, you may be able to set up the donation date during the first phone call, otherwise, you may have to contact the organization again in order to set the date. As Rawhide accepts vehicle donations from many different places across the country – and there are multiple donation locations throughout the state of Wisconsin – it will be easy to set up something convenient for you. You will need to have the title of the car in your name to sign over, as well as ensure that the vehicle has wheels that are inflated and capable of turning – even if it isn’t running, this is necessary for loading the car. After you have signed over the title, received your donation receipt, and said goodbye to your old car, you’re done.

From here, the organization takes over – completing repairs, assessing value, and conducting the auction are all done under the careful supervision of Rawhide representatives, and you don’t have to worry about it! Organizations like this one keep the donation process simple because they want to encourage repeat donors – if things were difficult or took a long time, it would discourage people from using their services, making it difficult for this type of organization to survive long term. All that matters when making a donation like this is that you know that your vehicle will be put to good use by those that truly need it – not simply sitting and collecting dust in a driveway or garage.

Mount Everest Summit – The View from on Top

Lance Fox was thrilled to share his mountain climbing experience with students at Rawhide’s Starr Academy. He told the guys, “If you have a dream and you believe in it—anything’s possible.” He is living proof. (Read Part One of Lance’s story about his inspiration for taking on the challenge and preparing for the trip.)

Climbing Mount Everest – Part Two

After two warm-up trips up and down Lobuche Peak near Mount Everest’s base camp, Lance Fox was ready for the ultimate climb to the Mount Everest summit. After years of dreaming, months of training, and weeks of acclimating to higher altitudes— this was it. Everest stood like a giant facing him. And Lance felt ready. The night before they began their trek, Lance posted a blog that closed with these words: “Dream big. Pursue your passions. Smile often. Laugh a lot. Life is short, so live it to the fullest.” Lance did not take the expedition lightly. Everest demands caution and intellect every foothold along the way. He respected that snowy giant before him.

Crisscrossing the Khumbu Glacier’s Icefall

Crossing a glacier crevasse in the Khumbu Icefall

The first part of their climb involved traversing the very dangerous Khumbu Icefall. The glacier ice chunks constantly shift, leaving climbers little room for error. Some of the ice chunks are as big as buildings and can collapse without warning. The climbers were guided by Sherpas, an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of Nepal near Mount Everest. They found the safest route through the Icefall and placed ladders and ropes through it. Lance practiced this procedure back in Wisconsin by placing a ladder over snow drifts. The practice paid off, and he crossed the glacier crevasse.

Battling Heat Exhaustion in the Valley of Silence

Without stopping at Camp 1, the team trekked straight to Camp 2. Lance took up the rear, fatigued from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Yes, heat exhaustion. Although the temperature at Everest’s summit never surpasses freezing, the temperature between Camp 1 and Camp 2 can reach triple digits! This basin, called the Western Cwm, often referred to as the Valley of Silence, reflects and amplifies solar radiation. Lance explained it’s like shining a flashlight into a metal bowl—it gets very hot, very fast! After arriving at Camp 2, the team rested for the night, and Lance recovered. map

Approaching the Death Zone at 26,000 Feet Above Sea Level

Looking down Lhotse Face

The following day, Lance and his group made their way toward Camp 3. This brought them to a 40-60° incline about a mile long called the Lhotse Face. The team decided to rest the night and tackle that incline in the morning. As Lance and the group made their way across the yellow band, a strip of limestone, and over the Geneva Spur  the next day, they neared the Death Zone. With an altitude of roughly 26,000 feet above sea level, humans can no longer acclimatize to low oxygen levels and must use supplemental oxygen. In the Death Zone, humans can only survive for a few days due to decreased oxygen and low atmospheric pressure. It can take 12 hours to hike only one mile in this zone. Lance ate less, slept less, and his mind became fuzzier and fuzzier.

The Final Push to the Mount Everest Summit

Following a few hours of rest at Camp 4, it was time for the final push to the summit. Lance was all set, “ready for the most physically challenging day of my life.” They reached the South Summit and crossed the narrow Cornice traverse. At some spots, the path was only as wide as Lance’s boot, with over a mile drop-off on either side—certainly not for the faint of heart!


Next, the climbers faced Hillary Step, a 39-foot rock wall. Nowadays, climbers have the assistance of ropes to guide them, but when Everest’s first mountaineers, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, reached this point, they only had each other… and their trusty ice picks. Once over Hillary Step, the adrenaline started pumping. Everest’s summit was within reach, less than an hour climb. At 8:50 a.m. on May 21, 2009, Lance reached the summit. After years of dreaming and preparing, he stood above the clouds—literally on top of the world! He soaked in the views, snapped a few pictures, and most importantly, paid tribute to his father. Lance had been carrying a portion of his father’s ashes to spread at the summit. His father was an important part of Lance’s inspiration to climb Mount Everest, and Lance wanted to honor him in this special way. So he sprinkled his ashes before descending.

Making the Descent

After basking in his success so far, Lance prepared mentally for the descent down the mountain. To him, “Success was not just reaching the summit but rather reaching the summit and getting down safely.” Most fatalities on Everest occur during the descent, so Lance knew he had to stay focused. Two days after standing on top of the world, Lance and his team arrived safely at base camp. They rested, celebrated, and began their journey home.

Wisconsin cheesehead at summit of Mount Everest

The Best Part of the Trip

Despite the huge accomplishment of reaching Everest’s summit, Lance’s highlight came  when his plane touched down in Appleton, Wisconsin, and he hugged his family for the first time in over two months. Someone once asked him how he could leave his kids for that long. He responded, “I left FOR my kids.” Lance wanted to show them that if you have a dream, believe in it, and work toward it—it can come true.

About Lance Fox

Lance is a veterinarian, who resides near New London, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids. He founded Healthy Yak, an organization that promotes health and welfare for yaks and other animals in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal, near Mount Everest. Lance wrote a book, No Place but UP!, that documents his Mount Everest experience. He was also featured on Discovery Channel’s Everest Beyond the Limit. Lance has spoken to over 20,000 people about his journey on Everest. We are grateful he chose to speak at Rawhide.

Donate a Car This July to Support Rawhide

Summer can be a time for families to make plans, hit the open road, and have a great time together. Since many children are off of school, many families across the country take the initiative to spend more time together – be it by taking day trips, extended vacations, or weekend getaways. The month of July is a big one for road trips and outings to see family, especially around the Fourth of July – the biggest celebration of our nation’s freedom. One of the most important things to consider when planning one such getaway is the mode of transportation that will be used to get there and back… and in some cases, this can mean a lot of preparation.

Vehicle Safety

The summer months (extreme heat, more use, constantly running the A/C, idling) can be quite trying on any vehicle, especially an older one. For just this reason, many car manufacturers offer wonderful discounts on new vehicles during the warmer months, which can entice people to consider swapping their older vehicle out for something new – and less likely to need maintenance. In addition to saving time and trouble, this practice can also save money in the long run, giving you and your family more funds to spend on “fun” things. Purchasing a new vehicle will not only help you avoid potential car troubles and worries during a time which you should be having fun and focusing on family – it can give you an incentive to donate.

Car donation, really?

While your older vehicle may not fetch a great deal as a trade in, it can still make a great donation vehicle to charities like Rawhide, which will use the vehicles for one of many purposes. Some of the vehicles can be immediately sold or loaned to families in need, others may need to be repaired before they can be used, and still others may only be good for parts – no matter what the condition of your vehicle, it will be accepted and welcomed by these charities. When you choose to donate a car, you’re doing more than giving away your old vehicle, you’re providing a family or a young man in need with the opportunity to succeed in life.

How do I donate?

The donation process is made as simple as possible, especially by charitable organizations like Rawhide in Wisconsin. A quick visit to the website will provide all of the information you need to begin the donation process, which is meant to be convenient for everyone involved. While you may feel as if the process will be time consuming and difficult, this isn’t the case, as you’ll find out with a bit of research. Additionally, the car donation process is more than just a tax deduction; each time someone donates a vehicle, they are donating an opportunity – and if that doesn’t make you feel good, then it’s hard to say what will. Buying a new car shouldn’t be done just so that you can donate the old one, but if you’re looking for that push to convince you that it’s time to buy a new vehicle, donating and making a difference this summer in the lives of those that can truly use it is as good a reason as any.  Help to celebrate your own freedom this year by giving someone else the opportunity to do the same – behind the wheel of a donated vehicle.

Donate Car Now | Don’t Wait Till Year’s End

If you’ve already made the decision to donate your vehicle to Rawhide, but are considering waiting until closer to the end of the year to do so, what are you waiting for? Sure, you have until December 31 to get this year’s tax deduction, but if that’s the only reason you’re waiting, you might want to think about why donating sooner – during the warmer months – is a better alternative.

Donate Car Now

Don’t wait until winter, Donate Car Now


While charities like Rawhide accept all vehicles whether or not they are running or able to be driven, there are consequences of waiting until the winter months to make your donation. For starters, the more it costs to come get the vehicle – be it through  a tow or pickup – the more funds are being diverted from the charity’s mission itself. Sure, getting the vehicle will be worth it, but as Wisconsin’s weather is always unpredictable, there could be additional costs incurred during a winter pick up like having to dig the car out from a snowbank – which has happened in the past! Donating sooner will also save you the costs of winterizing a vehicle you don’t plan on keeping – and it can even save you from having to renew license plate tags if your birthday falls within the specified time frame.



The sooner you donate, the sooner the vehicles can be put to use

Understandably, many of the vehicles that get donated need some work before they can be put to use by families and individuals. Some of these repairs are as simple as replacing wiper blades and changing the oil, but others can take some time. Since many people wait until closer to the end of the year to donate, things can get backed up, causing the turnaround time for reuse of these vehicles to become longer – meaning that it may take time for someone new to get use out of the vehicle. For this reason, it is common to see charitable organizations start their “donate car” campaigns in earnest while the weather is still nice; this gives people time to make repairs, find needy recipients, and take stock of what they have. While getting a new car for the holidays during the holiday season may seem like a great thing, having the vehicles before the holidays can give people time to get things together – find jobs, go to school, get back and forth between errands – before the time comes, which will help them be more prepared.

In addition to helping others be more prepared for the holidays, donating a car before the seasons change can help you, too. While the ease of the process itself doesn’t change, it can be much less stressful to know that all of the paperwork will be in order on time, the vehicle will be gone – out of the garage or driveway before the snow hits – and that you wont have to worry about scheduling a pickup around all of your holiday shopping, preparation and travel plans. The end of the year comes quickly, and once it hits, things seem to keep going without pause. If you’ve already decided to donate your car, why wait any longer? Do yourself as well as the intended charity a favor, and schedule the vehicle’s pick up or drop off today… don’t wait!



Climbing Mount Everest – An Expedition to Top of the World Part 1

Imagine achieving a lifelong dream. Would you feel on top of the world? Lance Fox did on both counts as he stood on the summit of Mount Everest. As a resident of nearby New London, Wisconsin, Lance was thrilled to share his experience with students at Rawhide’s Starr Academy. He told the guys, “If you have a dream and you believe in it—anything’s possible.” He is living proof.

The Dawn of a Dream

Lance’s dream came to light in November 1997. His son was born prematurely, which meant a longer hospital stay. To pass the time, Lance picked up a book entitled Everest: Mountain without Mercy and was profoundly inspired. The captivating idea of climbing to the top of the world yielded a dream and a goal of climbing Mount Everest. He thought of his new son who entered the world too early and of his father who lost a battle with cancer 11 years prior. Life was short. A few years later, Lance signed on to climb Mount Everest. He had a year to train. Pedal to the metal, he was all in.

Preparing for Climbing Mount Everest

Central Wisconsin’s terrain is flat compared to the Himalayan mountain range in South Asia, home of Mount Everest. Nevertheless, Lance needed to train, so he got creative. He stepped into his down snow suit, strapped on his climbing boots, weighed down his backpack with water jugs, and headed over to Mosquito Hill. At a mere 960 feet above sea level, it’s no comparison to the 29,000-foot Everest, but Lance made it work. He climbed up and down the hill as many times as his schedule allowed, especially when the forecast included a snowstorm.

Mosquito Hill in New London, WI

The 960-foot rise of Mosquito Hill in New London, WI was his training ground for climbing Mount Everest

When the Wisconsin winter wind picked up, creating big snow drifts, he took a ladder and set it parallel to the ground across two drifts. This practice eventually paid off at one of the toughest parts of climbing Mount Everest—crossing the glacier crevasses. Lance was ready for the real thing.

Finally, after a year of physical training and mental preparation, Lance said emotional goodbyes to his family and friends and boarded the plane to Nepal. He touched down two days later in Kathmandu and met his teammates for the first time—28 people from all over the world.

A Risky Landing in the Himalayas

Lance and his team spent a few days in Kathmandu before boarding a small plane to one of the most dangerous airports in the world — Tenzing-Hillary Airport, named after the first two individuals known to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. The airport’s short runway contributes to its risk. Plus, obstacles at either end of the runway don’t allow for much error—on one edge, a 2,000-foot cliff and on the other, a stone wall. “If I had any hair,” Lance recalls “it’d be standing on end during the landing.”

Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Himalayas

Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Himalayas

At this point, Lance’s team was 9,400 feet above sea level. They waved good-bye to the plane, the last motor vehicle they would see or ride in for the next 2 months. They were ready to begin the 9-day trek to Everest Base Camp.

Getting Acclimated or “Catching One’s Breath”

Lance’s team had a 40-mile journey ahead of them—just to the Mount Everest base camp! They spread the trip over 9 days to allow for acclimatization, the process of adjusting one’s body to a higher elevation. Lance explained that a full breath at the summit of Mount Everest brings in only a quarter the amount of oxygen we get at sea level. So it’s important to increase elevation gradually in order for the body to adjust.

On the trek to base camp, Lance caught his first glimpse of Mount Everest. He could hardly believe it. This was finally happening.

The team arrived at base camp, roughly 17,000 feet above sea level, yet about 2 vertical miles below Mount Everest’s summit. They rested, regrouped, planned, and continued the acclimatization process. Over the next few weeks, Lance and his team climbed Lobuche, a mountain that stands 9,000 feet below Everest. They ascended the mountain twice, spending the night at the top during the second jaunt.

As they climbed Lobuche, their team leader, Russell Brice, remained at the base camp and coached them purposely from a lower elevation. The human thinking process can get fuzzy when oxygen levels fall well below the normal level, increasing the risk of faulty decisions. So the team leader remains at the lower elevation to guide them in decisions. Russell watched them through a telescope and, kept in contact with them using two-way radios throughout the entire expedition to ensure their safety.

Lobuche Peak near Mount Everest

Lobuche, a mountain that stands 9,000 feet below Everest

After two trips up Lobuche, Lance and his team were finally prepared for the real thing. They still had a long journey ahead of them—ascending AND descending Mount Everest safely. Lance did not take the expedition lightly. Everest demands caution and intellect from the very beginning. He felt ready.

Read part 2 of Lance’s journey!

We continue Lance’s story of fulfilling his incredible dream of climbing Mount Everest.

About Lance Fox

Lance is a veterinarian, who resides near New London, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids. He founded Healthy Yak, an organization that promotes health and welfare for yaks and other animals in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal, near Mount Everest.

Lance wrote a book, No Place but UP!, that documents his Mount Everest experience. He was also featured on Discovery Channel’s Everest Beyond the Limit. Lance has spoken to over 20,000 people about his journey on Everest. We are grateful he chose to speak at Rawhide.


How At-Risk Youth Benefit From Your Car Donations

Children are the future, and it is important to allow young people – young men, especially – the chance to grow and develop among their peers. Our Wisconsin-based organization prides itself on taking at-risk youth from the surrounding communities and enhancing their lives through hands-on experiences and activities. Many of the changes that participants go through during their time working with the organization will remain close to their hearts for the duration of their lives, forever improving their outlook on the future. Your car donations prove to be more than just a deduction.

Camps Offered

Two of our most beneficial and popular camps include both the Winter and Summer Adventure Camp. These week-long programs are designed to provide the at-risk youth with opportunities that they would otherwise not have. These camps are more than fun; they also provide learning experiences that can even count toward school credit. In order to earn this credit, participants – the young men attending the camps – must complete all assigned activities, as well as show character development; an trait that is increasingly necessary for survival and success in today’s world.

Camp Activities

For many young men, it is easy to blend in and follow the crowd, but Rawhide’s camp experiences provide the future leaders of the community with the chance to step outside of their comfort zone and learn new skills that will help them during their life journeys. In the summer, typical outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, rock climbing and canoeing are intertwined with skill and character development like team work, honesty, integrity, problem solving and self confidence… just a few of the things they may not be able to experience at home or in their daily lives. Winter camp experiences offer the same benefit, although the outdoor activities are swapped out for sled riding, snow tubing, hockey, ice fishing and the most unique – snow volleyball. All of the activities offered focus on personal development, and teaching invaluable skills that will be required for a successful life.

While these camps may seem like the typical experiences for youngsters, the truth is that your car donations support activities that are offered are meant to specifically help those deemed “at-risk” learn to better themselves. The term “better” doesn’t simply refer to their behavior outwardly, but also the way that they feel and think about themselves. Not every young man is lucky enough to grow up surrounded by positive influences, but the week spent at camp will ensure that these boys see how great life can be – and what it feels like to be surrounded with positivity and praise, along with others who are in the same situation.

Car Donations Make These Camps Possible

Rawhide‘s continued ability to help relies on support from the community in the form of charitable donations – car donations, monetary support, and volunteering. All of these donations are necessary for the organization to continue functioning, and providing these formative, valuable events for the surrounding community. The formative years of a young man’s life set the tone for his behaviors as an adult, and Rawhide’s goal is to demonstrate the benefits of actively participating in a community setting – making friends, having fun, and learning about themselves in the process.

Meet the Face Behind Rawhide eBay Customer Service

If you’ve purchased a vehicle from Rawhide’s eBay store, chances are you’ve spoken on the phone with Patty. She is the voice & face behind Rawhide eBay Customer Service. Patty feels it’s no accident that she’s at Rawhide and recently shared her story with us.

Change Was in the Air

Patty’s life was at a crossroads. She recently left a company she worked with for ten years because it was no longer the right fit for her. She wasn’t sure what the next chapter would entail, and as uncertainty filled her life, she considered her options. After waiting and praying on it, an idea popped into her head: Rawhide Boys Ranch.

What’s Rawhide All About?

Patty knew OF Rawhide but knew little ABOUT Rawhide. It wasn’t until she and a group of friends visited the ranch that she had a better understanding of our mission and success with helping troubled youth. Patty’s curiosity was peaked after the visit, so she went to Rawhide’s website to see if there were any job openings. She couldn’t believe her eyes—there was an opening for customer service! She completed the online application, clicked submit, and before she knew it, she was in her second interview and soon after she was sitting in her new office at Rawhide!

5 of Patty’s Favorite Things about Rawhide

Patty has been working as a customer service representative for Rawhide for over a year. In that time she’s realized all the experience she gained at different jobs acted as building blocks, preparing her for Rawhide. Those experiences helped her understand five of her favorite things about working at Rawhide:

  1. Working with like-minded people
  2. Continuous learning
  3. Continuous pursuit of her passion for customer service
  4. Working for a higher purpose
  5. Hearing buyer stories

These were things Patty always dreamed of having in a workplace. She believes that she is meant to be working at Rawhide.

An eBay Purchase is Worth 1,000 Words

Patty’s favorite aspect of her job is interacting with customers in completing their eBay purchases. This lets her hear the incredible stories of what brings the buyer to Rawhide. Patty has heard stories of endless searches to find a rare item, long trips to pick up a find, or opportunities to be reunited with a vehicle that was previously in someone’s life.

One eBay customer traveled over 1,000 miles to Rawhide to pick up a motorcycle he dreamed of giving to his son.

Another gentleman found his father’s old 1955 Pontiac on our eBay site and grabbed it up.

A search for a vintage Woody Brown catamaran also ended at Rawhide. The buyer had been searching for this particular boat for a long time and once he made the purchase, he traveled from San Diego to Rawhide, brought the catamaran home, fixed it up, and now sails it on the Pacific Ocean.

Another eBay customer built one boat a year and donated each creation to a different organization. After he purchased a boat from Rawhide and came to the ranch to pick it up, he became so impressed with everything happening on the ranch he chose to donate a personally crafted boat each year to Rawhide!

Tell Patty Your Story

These stores are what make Patty’s job great. If you are searching for a unique item, visit our eBay site. There are plenty of great finds, and we often have rare boats and collectible vehicles. The item that brings you to Rawhide might be a click away. You might even get to meet Patty face-to-face!