Buying a used car could be a great deal, but it also carries some risks. The vehicle might have been seriously damaged in an accident or not properly maintained. So, to avoid purchasing a bucket, you should make sure to check a few things.
- Check the car body and interior – Walk around the vehicle and look for rust, dents or inconsistencies in frame alignment. Also, make sure that the wheels are vertically straight. On the other hand, the condition of the vehicle interior is another good indicator of how the vehicle was taken care of. Examine the interior for tears in upholstery, sun damage and general appearance. Also, make sure to check all the seat belts, the driver’s belt in particular.
- Service Records – When purchasing a used car, whether it is from a private party, dealer or friend, you should always ask for auto repair service records. It is critical that you verify if the vehicle was serviced regularly and if the car was subject to any particular problems at anytime, especially overheating issues. It is also imperative that you ask the seller if the timing belt has been replaced, as they can be extremely costly. Finally, you should determine if it’s been a city-driven car or freeway-driven car. City-driven cars suffer a lot of beating while freeway-driven cars tend to be in better condition.
- Show me the CARFAX – The CARFAX will provide you detailed information on ownership and title history, as well as additional background, which may include accidents and other issues. This will confirm the original sale date, if the car has been salvaged, involved in an accident or if there have been any recalls for that vehicle. You can order your CARFAX report online at carfax.com for just under $40. Or if you’re checking out more than one vehicle, you can get 5 CARFAX reports for just under $50.
- Call your mechanic – You should have a complete safety inspection done; let your mechanic know that you are thinking of purchasing a used car and ask for any insight that he/she might have. If the inspection reveals any problems, you will have leverage on the price negotiation. In the past years, we’ve noticed that the vehicle is often neglected. The seller is getting rid of their car and deems it pointless to invest money in a car they are selling. Always call your mechanic and ask him/her what they think about the car you are looking to purchase.