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Tyrekickers - where are you?

An increasing number of ads for used aircraft have a remark on “no tirekickers, please”.
I had a feeling I know the meaning, but made it clear. They define it as a person asking questions about a used car, who are never satisfied, and who finally walk away. O….kay ?!
Well, you know, that’s me. I am a TK. When I find an aircraft I maaaay like (I looked at many in my life, bought 3 of them) I ask questions. Would you cross half of Europe for a first inspection without doing so ? And what is the seller really trying to say when he says “no TK” ? That he is looking for an idiot who gets blown away by the low-res photos, forgets about logs, maintenance, life-limited items and all the rest and send money ante ? wham bam thank you my dear ? or that he can tell from the type of questions asked when the buyer isn’t a buyer ? like some deep shrink-like insight into to soul of a potential buyer ? and that he wants other “idiots” to stay away ?
A few days ago sb offers a nice (?) Vans on planecheck. Again same remark at the bottom, TKs stay away !! So I ask him about the meaning. He mumbles sth in his response, how upset he is about “useless” questions etc.etc. So I ask him about the plane. TSOH of the prop ? logs since when ? who did the maintenance etc. He says proudly that he did all the maintenance himself, next gets really excited about what kind of silly questions people can ask. Good planes are “for real”, you can see it, “no nonsense” – anything else ain’t matter. And why would sb want to know if the engine was ever overhauled since 1949 ?
Forgive me ?
Please don’t hold back. It’s personal, it’s attitude, it’s about a lot of money. And may be you’ve gotten upset about a buyer who dared to ask some questions and finally walked away. Any (friendly) comment welcome ;)

Last Edited by AJ at 22 Jul 14:51

If you’re a serious buyer I think you need to make that known and if the seller doesn’t respond, move on. Just because the guy has a plane you might like doesn’t mean you want to deal with him.

The problem for a seller is that there are many people who will ask a long series of detailed questions with no intent to buy the plane, ever, from day one. They do it for entertainment. If your time is limited you need to establish whether they are serious before spending too much time on them. Obviously you need to stay friendly in doing so, and friendly in cutting them off if they aren’t real buyers… the salesman’s art, and not everybody is good at it.

When I sold my prize winning Luscombe, which appeals to exactly the time rich and entertainment poor demographic described, I got in the habit of asking how much time in type the prospective buyer had, then depending on the answer letting them know that there is no comparison between landing a present day training plane and a Luscombe, or alternately asking why are you shopping for a Luscombe when you already have one? The answers tended to show who was and wasn’t serious, regardless of their prior experience. The buyer qualification ‘game’ is obviously different depending on type.

On the other hand there are also sellers who actually enjoy talking about planes with anyone who calls, and aren’t too worried about when the plane sells of how much time the talking takes. That’s fine too

Last Edited by Silvaire at 22 Jul 15:11

Certainly real buyers have to ask questions. However, I was once selling a car and the same guy kept calling. I was fine to answer the questions once, but it seemed like he was bored on the weekends and just wanted someone to talk to. He never came to see the car, and I eventually had to tell him to stop calling. I think this fits the definition of a tire kicker (although he didn’t actually kick the tires).

I have noticed that I generally like talking about aircraft, either when buying or selling (I have only owned shares). Hence the telephone calls/meetings are generally pleasurable. However, these interactions were genuine with intent to buy or sell. I don’t call people with airplanes for sale that I have been ‘dreaming’ about, with no intent to buy…. but I could see some people might do this, e.g. calling up another aviator to have a pleasant chat about an aircraft.

Another thing is test flights; I have given a few test flights to prospective buyers. Some of these did not proceed further; they might have been tire kickers, but I haven’t had so many to be irritated. The last group I was with charged the prospective buyer for the test flight (at the same rate we all paid per hour) which was to be credited back if they bought the share. I think this discourages people just talking themselves into a ride.

Sans aircraft at the moment :-(, United Kingdom

The classic ‘test flight tire kicker’ is a professional pilot who is on a layover. They are in my experience highly unlikely to buy after the test flight, they are just looking for something to do.

Approaching buying an aeroplane as an interrogation puts you on the back foot straight away. You would be better off going to see the aeroplane in person and bringing the seller a present. I still remember the German who bought us the little smoking ornamental gnome, and the Belgians who brought a box of chocs for my wife. We are constantly buying aeroplanes, it’s the same drill every time.

  • Agree on a price subject to an inspection
  • Send a deposit to secure the aircraft
  • Perform an inspection
  • Close the deal

As a seller, I don’t let anyone else sit in the left seat until it’s paid for. I’ve had too many people try and scare me. Some of them were examiners and other nobility from the aviation world. Nobody can perform a pre-purchase inspection without both price agreed and a deposit paid. I wouldn’t go too hard on the amateur sellers. Some of them guided by maintenance people who don’t even know their own job, let alone the job of selling an aeroplane. We’ve had aeroplanes we paid in full and the seller wouldn’t hand it over when it was paid for. We’ve been in hundreds of deals… but certainly haven’t seen it all.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EIBR, Ireland

I suggest there are no hard and fast rules. I actually would prefer a buyer who had informed questions, and who was taking the trouble to visit, look at log books. I don’t think it takes too much intuition to figure out which buyers are not genuine.

Oxford (EGTK)

To reduce the amount of chat, a serious seller should have a long email with all questions answered for non-serious buyer


  • If you want to see around, come when the seller is around and have as much time as you want, you may even fly
  • If you want to test fly, sure but put non refundable flight time fee (kicks hour chasers out of the way)
  • If you want to buy, bring 10% refundable deposit

The buyer will have lot of questions to the seller, while the seller only wants to know how much

Last Edited by Ibra at 22 Jul 16:24
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

As long as questions are meaningful and relevant, no serious seller would have a problem with them.
It’s all about making sure that the buyer is as serious as you are and to avoid too many “stupid questions” (and yes, there are stupid questions. Either questions that buyer can answer themselves because they are the same for every plane on this type or questions which are obviously completely irrelevant for any serious buying decision).

Asking questions back to the prospective buyer is a great way to figure out if they are serious: If you ask them about specific versions they are more or less interested in, you know quickly if they have familiarized themselves with the type (in a depth that is adequate when spending so much money…)


Nobody can perform a pre-purchase inspection without both price agreed and a deposit paid.

How would that work?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

How would that work?

You sign a contract allowing the PPI, on completion the buyer has a certain amount of time to accept or reject the aircraft. If they reject, the deposit is returned but they pay all costs. I also usually have that they can require me to rectify airworthiness defect from the PPI.

And a tyrekicker is a person who just wants to look around aircraft and has no real intention of buying one.

Last Edited by JasonC at 22 Jul 17:35
EGTK Oxford
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