Are you in the market for a used car? Perhaps you have an empty spot in your garage that needs a car for your family or one to use for work. Or maybe you’re looking for a sleek, sporty number to take out when you’re in the mood for a fun road trip! No matter the reason, there are a few things you need to be on the lookout for when evaluating a used car.
- Leaks: Check underneath the car to find any oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, or antifreeze leaks. Even if there is just a small, slow leak, it can indicate a worn-out component or damage.
- Misaligned Doors and/or Trunk: Make sure the car is parked on level ground so you can see if the doors are aligned along with the trunk. Misalignment can be a sign of a damaged frame.
- Shiny New Bolts: If you see brand-new bolts in the trunk or hood of a used car, they may be disguising recent repairs resulting from an accident.
- A Detailed History: Every car has a history, just as every person does. Never buy a used car without looking at its official history. CARFAX is an example of a company that can provide you with a detailed history of a used vehicle, including any accidents it’s been involved in as well as service and title information.
- The Sound of the Engine: Of course, you’re going to test drive any used car before buying it. This gives you the opportunity to listen to the engine. Does the car hesitate before starting? Is the engine excessively loud? Does the car shake? All of these things can be signs that you’re test-driving a car that needs a lot of work.
- The Presence of Rust: You may expect a used car to have a bit of rust just because it’s a little older. But the placement and amount of rust can mean the car has been sitting in water. Rust around the edges of doors, the edges of the trunk, or at the bottom edge of the car can be a sign the car has been parked in high water. Also, sniff around the interior of the car. Don’t worry about looking silly: You want to avoid a lemon at all costs! A musty odor can indicate mold from floodwaters.
- Cracked Hoses: Open the hood and look at the condition of the hoses and connections there. Do you see a lot of cracked rubber or rust around the connections? This is wear and tear that can result in a long list of repairs.
- The Hurry-Up Treatment: Whether you’re dealing with a salesperson in a dealership or an independent seller, never give in to the hurry-up treatment. This usually involves the salesperson mentioning that someone else is coming in soon to look at the car or making a passing comment that they don’t expect this car to be available for much longer. Never feel rushed into buying a used car, no matter how much the salesperson tries to convince you to make a quick decision. I firmly believe that every shopper should take their time so they feel at peace with their final decision.
Getting a used car checked out by a mechanic (someone not connected with the seller or dealership) can also provide you with valuable advice on whether to purchase a used car or move on down the road.
Thanks for reading. – Alan