The fact that a vehicle has had one or two prior owners does not have to say anything about its quality and condition. Technological advancements over the past few years means that cars are lasting longer and longer. The average age of a vehicle on the road is 10 years. All of that means that it is very easy to stroll into a used car dealership and walk away with a used car that is essentially as good as new. With all of that considered though, there are still a few checks and precautions you need to make before committing to the purchase. This checklist will give you a little food for thought on how you can be sure that the used car you buy is in a good condition.
Check the Car Thoroughly Prior to Purchase
You don’t want to have to call out for roadside assistance immediately after buying your brand-new car! The good news is that you have legal rights to get rid of the new lemon in your life (without burning a hole in your wallet). More than that though, it’s important that you know precisely what you are checking for. Several used car purchase checklists exist online and are well worth reviewing. Don’t just check the outside and the general appearance of the car, be sure to check underneath the hood for leakages and potential problems. You should also check inside the car to make sure that the lights, the radiator, the stereo and all of the various features function properly. Last but not least, check around the wheels and underneath the car to ensure that there is no rust damage.
Read Reviews of the Dealership
Before making an appointment with a used car dealership, do a little background research. Most used car dealerships are reputable and reliable but it’s good to double check first. At the end of the day, the individuals working at these places are still salesmen so you need to check that the dealer you are considering does not have a reputation for offloading questionable vehicles.
Read Reviews of the Vehicle
Perhaps you have a car or a brand in mind that you would like to purchase. It is equally important to do some background research on the vehicle brand and model as it is to check the dealership. Perhaps your favorite brand has deteriorated in quality standards over the past few years. It’s important to know about this type of thing before it is too late and the car is already sitting in your garage. Are there any known faults with the type of vehicle you are considering? Are replacement parts easy to find should you have problems? Consider every possible scenario.
Take it for a Test Drive
There is only so much insight that you can obtain into the car’s condition while it is stationary. Sure, everything may look okay on the surface level but you will never really be sure of that until you get behind the wheel of the car and take it for a quick spin around the block. Your test drive is your opportunity to see how comfortable you would feel with driving this car on a daily basis. It is also a time when it is important for you to listen out for any potential problems with the car. If the car shakes, vibrates, or makes any strange sounds while you are driving then it could be a sign of a serious steering and suspension issue. Test the braking mechanisms and the car’s ability to turn and accelerate to make sure that everything seems okay.
Consult a Professional Mechanic
It is advisable that you check used cars thoroughly before making a purchase. That said, not everyone is completely clued up about automotive parts and tests. If your initial sighting of a vehicle doesn’t set off any alarm bells then it is worth consulting a professional mechanic before you sign on the dotted line and make a purchase. A professional mechanic can conduct a comprehensive check of the vehicle and will know precisely what to look for. Instead of finding yourself rolling around under the car body with a flashlight looking for rust, or lifting up the hood with no clue what you are doing, a professional is worth the small investment.
Assess the Service History of the Car
If it’s available, the service history of the car is a good way to see how the vehicle was treated by its past owners. It also gives an insight to any prior known problems with the car. A service history with long gaps between services, or a car with no history of being serviced is cause for alarm. Such occurrences doesn’t mean that you should write off the idea of buying the car completely, but should definitely be a trigger for you to conduct more tests.
Take a Friend with You for Assistance
While you are checking the car on your first encounter with it, you want to be thorough in your tinkering. This means testing things such as the lights which you simply cannot check alone. Have a friend stand outside the vehicle and confirm if the lights are working while you work the buttons inside the car. Your friend will also be able to give you a valuable second opinion, and act as an extra pair of eyes to look out for things that you may not have noticed yourself.