Once you’ve decided you want to buy a car, it’s time to get more specific. If you’re reading this article, you’ve already settled the all-important issue of whether you should buy a new or a used car. Cars are not cheap, so opting for a used car is a great way to get a quality vehicle without the hefty price tag.
However, there are still risks, regardless if you’re buying from a dealership or directly from the owner. The main problems with shopping for used cars is that it’s difficult to know if what you’re getting is as advertised and whether the car really is worth its price tag. So, how can you know for sure that you’re not being taken for a ride? The short answer is that there no way you can be absolutely sure, but getting a trouble-free quality used vehicle has less to do with luck and more to do with good research and learning how to spot problems.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most important things you should look out for when buying a used car. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, there are two main rules you should keep in mind: don’t buy based on emotions and always be prepared to walk away. No matter what the seller says, if you’re not looking for some super rare model, you’ll always be able to find a car that is just as good or better, so there’s no need to let yourself be pressured into deciding on the spot.
Buying From a Used Car Dealer
Buying from a used car dealership tends to be a safer option since you get a warranty for at least a few months. To find a car dealership, you can simply google according to your location. For example, you search for “car dealerships in independence mo” and then read through the reviews.
Keep in mind that any dealership has overhead expenses, so it’s likely that you will pay more than if you bought from the owner directly. On the plus side, if you have problems with your car, they’ll be easier to find for help.
Make sure you read the fine print on your warranty, so you know exactly what it covers.
If you’re buying your car from a private seller, you need to be more extra careful. First of all, there are a lot of dealers that pretend to be private sellers. When you call them, say you want to know more about “the car for sale” and don’t give any additional information. If they need more information to be able to identify it, it probably means they’re selling multiple cars.
It’s also not a good idea to buy from someone that only gives you a mobile number because this will make it very hard to get in touch with them if you have problems with the car. It’s better to insist on a visit to their house so you can inspect the car and see if the address is the same as on the registration document.
If you find an ad for a car you’re interested in, before you make any calls or go see it, you’ll want to know if you’re being charged a fair price. That’s something you can easily do online by looking for the same make, model, and year and comparing prices. Prices will fluctuate depending on the condition and mileage, but you should still be able to get an idea of the car’s market value.
You can also use online tools to find a particular car’s history, such as checking the VIN or Vehicle Identification number using a VIN decoder chart like the one provided by the NHTSA. This will let you know if there are any recalls on the car you’re interested in.
You can also look up the vehicle’s history to see if there are any previous accidents, title problems and check the ownership history.
Check the Car’s Exterior and Interior
When you get a chance to see the car, you’ll first want to get a good look at the exterior so you can check for dents, scratches, and rust. You should also verify if the body panels line up. If they’re uneven, this might mean that the car was in an accident and it wasn’t repaired well. Open and close the doors, hood, and trunk of the car to see how easily they move.
You should also check the doors, hood, and trunk for paint overspray and see if the car’s color matches everywhere. If you notice overspray, that part of the car was probably damaged and then repaired and repainted.
The condition of the car’s interior is likewise an indication of whether the mileage advertised is real. For instance, a car that is supposed to have a mileage of 20,00 should have an interior that looks almost new. If the steering wheel, seat bases, and side bolsters look tired and worn, that might suggest the seller is hiding something.
You’ll also want to check the upholstery for rips and tears and look for sagging roof lining or holes drilled in the dashboard. More importantly, check if the lights and ventilation system work, as well as electric features like the central locking, windows, and sunroof.
Pay attention to the smell of the interior. If it smells musty, you may want to check for leaks and water damage.
Since the engine is the heart of the car, you’ll want to check its condition. One of the easiest problems you can spot is leaks. Look under the engine for sludge. This is formed from road dirt sticking to the oil from a leak. Check for other leaks as well. Green, pink or yellow fluid usually means coolant leaks, and reddish-brown means that the gearbox or the power steering fluid is leaking. The fluid from the gearbox tends to be thick, while the power steering fluid is thinner. If you notice these leaks, you can either fix it yourself but negotiate a discount or ask the seller to fix it. If they’re not willing to negotiate, you can always walk away.
These are only a few of the things you should check. You should also pay attention to the oil, head gasket, exhaust smoke, gearbox, and clutch. Never buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and it’s always better to have a mechanic take a look at it as well since they might notice things you missed and give you an inspection report you can use to negotiate the price.