Everyone loves to save money and one of the best ways to save money is by purchasing a used car! It’s common knowledge that a brand new car loses a significant amount of value as soon as it drives off the dealers lot, so it makes sense to buy used. However, if you’re in the market for a used car, there are a few things you must check before you buy it because it could cost you more than expected later down the road.
Of course, the first thing you will essentially inspect without any thought to it is the car’s body. But this doesn’t mean a quick scan of the bumper and doors, it involves a little more scrutiny. Inspect every inch of the car and look for things like rust, dents and damage! Pay attention to the gaps on the body like the space between the front door and front fender because if they are misaligned or look off, the vehicle may have been in an accident which will raise a red flag.
Under The Hood
The reality of buying a used car is that you may need to perform some repairs right away; but, if you notice major flaws or problems before you buy it, you could negotiate with the dealer/seller to fix them before you take it home. At any rate, pop the hood of the vehicle and start checking the condition of the engine. What does the alternator look like … does the serpentine belt look ribbed and cracked … is anything leaking? Even if you aren’t a mechanic, you can judge the condition of the engine just by looks.
It is absolutely KEY to test drive the used vehicle before signing the purchasing paperwork! Once you immediately turn the car on, turn the radio off and listen to the engine. This means you should keep the hood open and make sure everything sounds the way it should. If any lights are illuminated on the dashboard, take note and proceed with caution. Ask the dealer/seller to identify the problems with a computer scan tool that will display special codes which pin point problems. But keep in mind, some computer codes that come up could easily be fixed with a turn of the gas cap. However, some codes may require you to find used auto parts to replace the malfunctioning components.
At any rate, take the vehicle for a spin and keep an eye on the tachometer (the RPM gauge). If you feel the car hesitating when you accelerate or if you notice the RPM stick stuttering, there could be an underlying problem with the engine. Sometimes this type of performance won’t even illuminate a check engine icon on the dashboard – so be very cautious.
But if the vehicle seems to be in good working order, you can consider taking the next step of purchasing it. And as a safeguard, you may want to have your mechanic take a look at it before you buy for an expert opinion on its’ condition.