Saturday, June 15, 2024

Things to look for when buying a used car

June 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Car Maintenance

Buying a used car isn’t something many of us do that often and is something that has to be taken seriously, after all it is your hard earned money you are spending and cars aren’t cheap. Buying a used car or second hand car is very different to buying a brand new car from a main dealership; used cars hold a history that is impossible to know the complete story about. With this in mind, make sure you have yourself a check list when going to view your dream car and importantly make sure you have done your full research about that particular make and model and the history of the vehicle its self.

Once you have decided what car you would like to purchase and know it is the right for you, do your market research to get an understanding of how much this car will cost you for the age that it is and the number of miles it has done. Have your money ready so you do not end up spending more than you need to. The most important thing to do before you even make the phone call to the trader or owner of the vehicle you have found is to carry out a check on the vehicle. MyCarCheck App can be purchased on your mobile where you can enter the registration number of the vehicle and then check the History of the vehicle, Valuation, mileage and all the cars relevant information for a small cost. Or you can have a full HPI check done on the vehicle which is always worth paying for you’re really certain it is the right car for you at the right price. There is nothing worse than buying a vehicle that has been stolen or written off in the past and the selling did not make you aware of this.

If the car passes the test then make the appointment to view it. If you are asked to leave a deposit over the phone to hold the car before you arrive then do not do this. This is a very well known scam that believe it or not some people fall for. When looking at the car take note of how the salesmen or in most cases the owner of the vehicle is. Are they friendly and welcoming? Do they look at you in the eyes when talking to you? Any salesman who wants to make a quick sale and doesn’t have any respect for the vehicle or your money will want a quick sell and will be quick and short to respond to questions. If they are patient and willing to answer every question you have and not push you on time then this is a good sign.

Ask to see the paperwork of the vehicle. Be sure to do this before you even start looking around the car itself. You could fall in love with a car that has been falsely advertised. Make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches what is on the car.

Now for looking around the car itself. Be sure that you have a friend with you with car knowledge and knowhow; taking a mechanic is always recommended. Having a second set of eyes and eyes to ask questions that you may have missed and to be a witness to what may be said or promised about the car is always a great thing to have. Their other job is to sit in the back and listen for any knocks or funny noises that you may not hear when out on the test drive.

Before looking inside the vehicle walk around the outside and look for the key points you should always look at first. Things like tyre ware. If the tyres are slightly worn, is it worn evenly around the wheel? If not this is a key sign that the tracking is not right on the vehicle indicating that it could have been in an accident or simply been miss driven. Take a glance at the break pad. Ask when the car was previously serviced and compare it with the wear of the break disks/pads. Next look at the check the doors all open and close smoothly and that seals are not damaged nor have any paint on them. Paint is a sign of repair or worse it has had a re spray. Look along the side of the car, can you see ripples or waves in the panels? Uneven gaps between two panels? How about dirt nibs in the paint itself? These points are key things to try and look for as this indicates that car has had repair work done for some reason that the salesman has neglected to tell you about.

Now look inside the car, a car that has done a lot of miles is bound to have worn patches and sags on the seats and the carpets. Take a good look at the upholstery, can you see stains or cigarette burns? These kinds of things can be useful when bargaining down the price. Have a look at the windscreen, any chips or cracks? Now look at all electrical items, CD player, windows, Mirrors, heating, AC, seats if they are electric. Make sure it all works and that you fully understand what everything does before going on the test drive.

Now start the engine once you are happy with the interior. Do all of the lights bar the handbrake light go out when you start it up? This is what you want to happen. Check the exhaust is not blowing and is not smoking. Before pulling away always reverse first and make sure it does into gear without being forced. Now check wipers including windscreen washer and lights and working. Get your friend to have a look around the car. Take the car for a good 15-20 minute drive until it is hot. Listen for any rattles, creaks in the suspension and check other necessary things like does the steering wheel have any play or if the car pulls off in a certain direction when you carefully let go of the wheel. Keep testing the brakes, you should not need to force the pedal or for it to travel very far to the floor and firmly pressed.

When you finish your test drive, check under the bonnet for any leaks from the radiator or for any oil anywhere. The oil cap and dip stick should have clean oil with no mayonnaise looking gunk anywhere. Check this while the engine is cold too.

Don’t be afraid to haggle on the price and most importantly don’t be rushed on your decision. Remember all the salesman cares about is your money not friendship. Don’t be afraid to say you’ll go away and think about it. At this point the salesman might just budge on price if you have tried to haggle. And if he doesn’t and you have concerns then it isn’t that car for you. Always trust your gut instincts.

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