Buying a used car can be a great way to get on the road, and cut some numbers off the price tag of the car that you want. However, if you don’t know how to check a used car, it opens to hidden damage and potential expenses down the track. Especially when you buy a used car for sale by the owner. So what are things that you should check before buying a used car?
To avoid making a bad deal, we make a checklist below to outlines what to look for when shopping for a used car through a private seller or dealer. The list will help you buy a great used car if you take the time to do your own search and learn how to check it for faults.
You need as much information as you can find for the car. First search for a“VIN” report to verify if the car has been in an accident, on liens, or written off. Know from the current owner of the car, and question anything that causes you concern. Also, do your own research to checkup things you concern about or if there are any recalls on the model.
The Test Drive
Taking a test drive is a very important part of how to evaluate a used car. Plan your route and put the car through the paces to test its maneuverability, braking, acceleration, and suspension.
The first thing on your test drive should be to examine the brakes. What you need to do is press the brakes hard enough to decelerate quickly, but not hard enough to cause the car to slide. You should not hear any strange noises or feel any vibration from the brakes.
The second thing you should check is slight trepidation. Accelerate the car up to 75 mph if possible, see if there is a problem that would have been indicated in the wear pattern on the front tires.
Finally, the last thing is to make a 90-degree turn to check if there are clunking sounds while this is done at a low speed. You should not hear any strange noises, otherwise, it would indicate that joints need to be changed.
Check the Exterior
- Rust or paint damage
You should inspect the paint job of the vehicle and take notes of any dents, paint damage, and rust. Take a walk around the car and keep an eye out for any rusty spots or paint damage. Localized small rust patches can be fixed easily but if there are places where the metal is totally rusted through, you might want to reconsider the purchase. Also, make sure that you look at the sides of the car to see if they look wavy. This indicates that the car has had a paint job done.
You need to inspect the frame of the car. While you’re walking around the vehicle, check if the car sitting level on the ground. Pay close attention to the bumpers, you should look inside the trunk and hood. Inspect the bolts for scratch marks that would indicate replacement fenders, new bolts or warping that could indicate a recent accident.
The tires of the vehicle will also need to be checked. The tire tread should be worn evenly and all four should match. Uneven tread or extra wear on a few of the tires indicates poor alignment, which could be a symptom of steering, suspension or frame issues. A bad alignment can be caused by steering components, potholes, or frame damage.
Check the Inside
- Under the hood
The engine is the most important part of any vehicle. You also should be able to see a sticker with the VIN number under the hood of the car. You should question the owner or the salesperson if it isn’t there, since VIN sticker placement depends on the manufacturer.
The first thing you should look for under the hood of the car is dents, rust, and damage. They can be signs that the vehicle you are considering had an accident or was poorly taken care of.
Next, you will inspect the engine for fluid leaks, corrosion, and cracked hoses and belts. Look for dark brown oil stains that would indicate a leaky gasket. You should first make sure the brake fluid reservoir is not leaking. Then you may need to check the hoses and belts to ensure that they don’t have any cracks. The radiator hoses should be felt to make sure that they aren’t soft. Then you need to remove the oil filler cap to make sure that it doesn’t have a foam residue on the inside. If it does, you should walk away immediately. The last thing you need to check is the timing belt. Since it is the costliest belt in the engine to replace.
To figure out if the car you’re looking at has high or low mileage, divide the mileage on the odometer by the vehicle’s age. In general, the average car will rack up to about 20,000 km per year. Note that a car with high mileage has more wear and tear on its mechanical components. But a ten-year-old car with low mileage is also not going to be a good thing.
Inside the car, the first thing you would check for is tears, stains, or other damage to the leather or upholstery. You will also need to check the Interior electronics. Open the radio, make sure that the air conditioner in the vehicle is working well, and press some buttons and check the stereo and the other electronic components are working properly.
If you think you’ve found the used car of your dreams and decide to make the purchase. You should take it to a professional mechanic for an inspection. A mechanic can do a full inspection and determine if the vehicle has any underlying issues or areas that might become an issue in the future. The service is definitely worthy since it could save you from buying a car with potential costs down the track.
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