Car Buyers Advisory Service, a new consumer consulting firm, has recently opened at 1008 N. Randolph St. in Arlington. The company is "designed to assist a used car buyer in making an objective evaluation of the car under consideration," according to founder Charles E. Bean.

"This is a period when high interest rates are forcing more consumers into the uncertainties of the used car market," Bean said. "Our advisory service has no ties to dealers, and serves as the exclusive agent of its clients." About 200,000 used cars change hands in the metropolitan area each year, he noted.

Assisting Bean in the firm is senior staff member Noel K. Dawson, former head of the District's vehicle inspection, registration and enforcement programs. Dawson is in charge of "selection of mechanics and the establishment of standards for their use," Bean said. Car Buyers Advisory Service (CBAS) does not shop for its clients, but it will provide information on current prices for specific automobiles. After a client has located a suitable used car, CBAS sends a certified mechanic to inspect and test drive the vehicle on various road surfaces and terrains. Using a 50-point comprehensive check list to evaluate the potential purchase, the mechanic suggests a target price. Other services include the provision of available consumer literature pertaining to test results, repair records and recall histories for specific cars and registration cross-checks to determine if the car in question has ever been used commercially or been involved in a major accident.

The service costs $50 inside the Beltway, and $60 outside. Testing usually takes about an hour, and CBAS needs two hours notice to respond to a client call. If the CBAS evaluation scrubs a potential purchase, additional inspections cost just $20. Annual membership in CBAS, a separate service costing $30, entitles a member to four repair inspections. Annual members need not have used CBAS to locate their car.