Purchasing a used car is an ideal option if you want to get a good quality vehicle without the high price tag of getting it new. While a used vehicle is a sensible choice, you need to ensure that you make good decisions throughout the entire process. There are several things you need to look for when purchasing a used car. Here are 7 of the most important things you need to evaluate when it comes to purchasing a used vehicle.
1) Inspect The Car’s Exterior
One of the more evident things you need to do is to evaluate the exterior portions of the car. You should check for dents, scratches and rust. While you may not need to worry about certain things such as scratches or small dings, dents that cover a large area of the car and rust is a cause for concern.
It is also recommended that you check to see if the body panels are lined up evenly. This is because uneven body panels indicate a poor repair job or accident. You should also check to see how easily the hood, trunk and door, opens and closes.
2) Inspect The Car’s Interior
When it comes to the vehicle’s interior, Kelley Blue Book suggests that you should look for instances of paint overspray by checking the trunk, doors and hood to make sure that the colour matches each part of the vehicle. If you notice mismatched paint or overspray, this indicates that the vehicle was repaired or repainted.
The most important thing you need to check in the car’s interior portion are signs of water damage or leaks. Therefore, determine if the car smells musty and check the carpet, floor mats, and seats for unusual wear and tear signs.
3) Check For Signs Of Leakage
Most mechanics would agree that the last thing you would want to do is purchase a vehicle that leaks fluids. This is because a vehicle that leaks fluid essentially tells you that it needs to be repaired immediately. Therefore, individuals interested in purchasing a used vehicle should check under the vehicle to see if any fluid is leaking. Black fluid is indicative of an oil leak. Meanwhile, yellow, pink and green fluids indicate that the antifreeze is leaking. Red fluids indicate that there’s a leak in the power steering fluid or the transmission.
4) Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Many people never consider the possibility of looking up the Vehicle Identification Number of the vehicle. However, it can be particularly revealing. By using a VIN decoder chart, you can determine if the used vehicle’s VIN matches what is actually in the vehicle records and titles. You can use numerous VIN decoders online, such as the one that’s provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
VINs can also be used to determine if there are any previous or current recalls on the car. Meaning, by looking up the VIN, you can see if the vehicle needs to be repaired due to a safety recall. You may not find an abundance of information on older models, and international vehicles may not be listed in the database.
5) Window Sticker
Most people overlook the window sticker that’s placed on used cars that are sold at a dealership. The Federal Trade Commissions stipulates that dealers must post specific pieces of information on each window sticker, such as whether the vehicle is being sold with a warranty or “as is”. And, it should display the percentage a dealer is obligated to pay if you have to repair the vehicle in a certain amount of time after purchasing it.
6) Check The Engine
Most of us only know how to add oil and antifreeze when playing with the engine. But just because you’re not a mechanic or car insurance expert, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell if an engine is faulty. You can check several things to determine the health of the engine. Some of the things you can be on the lookout for include:
- The smell of burnt oil.
- The smell of burnt antifreeze.
- Signs of poor quality repair jobs such as “duck tape”.
- Race modifications.
- Oil level.
- Black carbon deposits and sludge under the oil cap.
7) Service Records
In some cases, you may not be able to get a particular vehicle’s service record. This is especially the case for older models. Service records can provide insight into how well the vehicle was maintained. If you do get access to the vehicle’s service records, you should look for mileage and oil change records. Depending on the manufacturer, they may have recommended that the owner change the oil every 2,750 – 10,000 miles.
You can check to see if the previous owner adhered to the manufacturer’s recommendation. This is so important because if the vehicle was driven between oil changes for much longer than the manufacturer recommended, the engine could be worn on the inside.