Call it a used car or a pre-loved vehicle. Either way, cars in their second act are making a mark in the automotive world. More and more people are purchasing pre-owned vehicles with the knowledge that they combine affordability with luxury. This trend is so strong that used vehicles have become the preferred option for drivers all across the country. While the prospect of purchasing a used car is promising, finding the right used car can be something more than just luck. Don’t forget to conduct the following checks while you complete your mission of bringing home a pre-owned vehicle.
What to Check Prior to Buying a Used Car
Exterior and Interior Inspection
It is important to remember that looks can be deceiving. The car you are looking at may have just received a fresh coat of paint or wax before rolling out onto the lot. Because of this, it is crucial that you look closely for scratches and dents. Check the status of the bodywork and inspect the wheels closely for signs of curbing. If possible, inspect the vehicle in daylight as opposed to darkness, rain, or other conditions that may hinder clear vision. While small scratches and dents can be fixed fairly frugally, they can also be used to negotiate the price of your car.
It is also necessary to look for large panel gaps that indicate shabby post-accident-repairs. Pop the hood and check all the fluid levels – oil, power steering, and brake fluid. Low levels of these fluids may imply neglected maintenance by the previous owner. You can even check for oil leaks while you are examining areas under the hood.
Take the Vehicle for a Test Drive
Never purchase a vehicle without taking it for a test drive first. Pay attention to the sound of the engine. Any rattling should be considered as a red flag for future engine troubles. Check the responsiveness of the brakes by accelerating the car and braking. The brakes must be silent as well. Brake problems may indicate low levels of brake fluid or excessive wear and tear on the brake pads. The engine must also have a smooth transmission.
Check the Tailpipe
Well-maintained gas vehicles have extremely light black or almost clear exhaust gases that are emitted from the tailpipe. Diesel vehicles, on the other hand, emit slightly darker shades of black gases. Blue color indicates the burning of engine oil while dark black implies the engine is running rich. White-colored smoke is a rare phenomenon that suggests a coolant leak in the combustion chamber.
Check for Proper Functioning of the Accessories
Once you’ve checked the condition of the engine, you can move on to test the luxuries. Check everything inside the car from the radio to the sunroof to the air conditioning mechanisms and more. If the car is equipped with a computer, consider using a diagnostic machine to check errors. After this step is complete, go on to verify the signals, headlights, and brake lights for proper functioning.
Don’t Forget the Paperwork
Compare your contract with what you discover from the VIN chart. Make a special note of the engine number and dedicate some time to research the previous owners. Is your car on sale legally? Was it ever stolen? Apart from the seller, avoid opting for a third-party to deliver your vehicle.
Excellent observation skills and careful research can help you lock down a used car that is perfect for your lifestyle. Understanding what to look for before making your purchase will help save you money and time on trips to the dealership for years to come.