You have found a beautiful used car at a reasonable price. It is important to take your time with major purchases like this one. Before you sign the blank line, make sure you go through this checklist to ensure you get a reliable vehicle that is not an expensive nightmare.
You should inspect the body carefully for any dents, scratches or rusty spots, as well as areas where the paint isn’t matching up. It is best to do this in daylight so you can see any problems. If you don’t fix your bodywork quickly and thoroughly, it can cause more serious problems down the road. Don’t rush this aspect of your inspection.
Inspect the interior for signs of wear and safety features like seat belts or airbags. If you notice that the interior of your car is not well maintained, it could be hiding mechanical or cosmetic problems.
Below the Hood
Examine the underside of your car for any loose wires or hoses. It doesn’t take an expert mechanic or a skilled mechanic to identify many problems. If your common sense tells you something is wrong, don’t ignore it.
Oil and other Fluids
Check the oil and other fluids while the hood is open. You should also inspect the underside of your car for signs of leakage. Low fluid levels and active leaks are signs that your car has not received the proper care.
Take note of the mileage to determine if it is fair in comparison to the vehicle’s age. A high mileage vehicle doesn’t necessarily indicate a damaged engine or transmission. However, it should indicate a decrease in cost.
You should always request a copy the service history, regardless of how low or high the mileage. Be cautious if the dealer is unable to provide this.
Verify the VIN
Before you make any purchase of an auto, it is wise to check the vehicle identification number (or VIN). The VIN can be found where the dashboard meets with the windshield on either the driver’s side or the post on the driver’s door.
Verify that the number on your vehicle’s paperwork matches the one you have entered. A VIN check is also recommended (free online service). This will allow you to see the most important issues in the car’s past.
Take a test drive
If all seems fine, test drive in realistic conditions. You don’t have to just drive around your neighborhood. Include some driving on the highway and in cities. This will allow you to gauge how your car performs in everyday road conditions.
You should not take the test drive if it doesn’t feel right. If you aren’t happy with the test drive, don’t let a salesperson push you to buy.
Used cars are an incredible bargain. But, it’s fair that not all vehicles look as good as they seem. Auto dealers today aren’t as dishonest as they appear to be. It’s still a good idea to do your research before you sign the contract.