What To Look For When Buying Used Cars: A Quick Guide
In an era of gold-plated Bentleys and pearlescent Lamborghinis, we, the dwellers of the middle-class, prefer to be a bit thrifty. While everyone is out wasting money on all those unnecessary luxuries, we're here just admiring our rented or used cars.
And we're happier, to be honest. We don't need silver encrusted gear shifts or some top-of-the-class synthetic tires. We're happy with anything that works, but you won't deny that good details are important even for older vehicles. Check out our Tekonsha Brake Controller Review, if you're looking for accessories that will enhance the performance of your car. Used cars would be a menace without brake controllers, and we assure you that it'll be worth the read.
What if a car that you bought from a low-profile car dealer decides to break down mid-journey? Regardless of our status, no one likes to get scammed. Here is why we have prepared this handy guide to help you avoid such things.
Below is a list of 6 different pointers to keep in mind when out buying second-hand cars. So let’s dig in!
Pointer #1: Never Go Over-Budget
It should go without saying. We've seen so many people trying to buy things that they can’t afford that we just had to add this one to the list.
While we do dream of luxury cars and enormous condos, we should understand that every human has different capabilities and that financial health comes before anything we wish to have.
Although second-hand cars will be much cheaper than brand new ones, they obviously won't cost a dollar. The most you can save is maybe a hundred dollars, so be as frugal as possible. If you think a seller is overpricing the vehicle, leave it be. Bargaining usually ends up with both sides unwilling to flex due to their financial needs.
Just don't forget: cheap prices bring cheap quality. There's a reason why the brand new ones sell for more. Sometimes, the sellers might scam you and give you a product that will only last two seconds before it says hello to the city dump.
In general, look for cars that are cheaper and within your budget. If all cars are above your limit, try to save up for it, but always prioritize your necessities over your desires.
Pointer #2: Examine The Body
Who needs a good functioning car that doesn't look like it has just come from RuPaul's Drag Race? While we do prefer to prioritize performance over looks, we also like to have a decent car that will at least get us a few half-hearted comments.
Examine the paint job carefully. Often, the finish can be peeled off or scratched in some places. Usually, you can make do with one or two scratches, but you should also ask for a discount concerning the bad condition of the car.
The trunk needs to be intact. It needs to be easy-to-open and easy-to-close. Make sure that it doesn't lag or need too much effort. Also, ensure that the lock is sealed shut, as you don't want all your goods falling out in the middle of the highway.
Apart from that, look for any signs of rusting or bacterial/fungal influence. Usually, worn out cars can get infected by microbes that cause all sorts of chemical reactions. A rusted car is a useless car. Not only does it degrade quality, but also puts your lives at risk and harms the ones around you.
In general, remember to make sure the car is in almost-mint condition, and if not, get a discount, or buy another model.
Pointer #3: The Tyres Say It All
Of course, you'd expect some wear and tear. But the majority of the tire should be intact and perfectly functioning. Tires are the most important aspect of a car. While it may seem that any tire will suit, it is a fact that a tire is just like a shoe size: it doesn't fit everyone.
Make sure the tires fit the vehicle just perfectly. They shouldn't be too big nor too small. In general, look for feathering, i.e., misalignment. A feathered car is a sign of a worn out suspension or steering, and it can say a lot about the car's performance.
Other than that, look at the tread wear. Tread wear is the fancy name for those markings and ridges on a car's tire. They help in establishing a grip, channeling water and mud, and in ensuring minimal fuel consumption. The tread pattern should be just perfect for your needs and shouldn't be too worn out.
The sidewall markings are quite significant. They help you evaluate whether the tire is right for this particular car. Also, check the weight limit and the speed rating index. Those two can be very important when assessing a tire's functionality.
Pointer #4: Down in the Hood
What goes on beyond the hood has always mesmerized us. And no, we're not talking about your local gangsters. We're talking about the giant piece of metal that coats your car’s engine and integral parts. The hood holds everything from the 6-cylinder engine to the transmission dipstick, and even the air conditioning unit.
First, inspect the engine. Find out about the type of engine from the seller. A V Engine is best for high performance or sports cars. Typical Inline Engine can be found in all sorts of automobiles, whereas Straight and Bozer varieties are best found in Porsches and BMWs.
The engine should not have any leaks or damages. A damaged engine will not only ruin performance but might even pose threats to the people inside the car. Look for dark caramel colored stains or breaks and cracks.
Check the most for any signs of damage or drying. A healthy belt is necessary to get the maximum out of your vehicle. Check the timing belt to ensure that it is intact and won't come loose.
Next, check the transmission dipstick. The color of the fluid should be red or pink, and it shouldn't smell or look burnt or worn out. The fluid can be dark for older cars, but it should be just in perfect condition. Also, make sure that the fluid is full.
Be very picky when it comes to performance parts. These can be the most expensive to replace. You don't want to spend hundreds on a used car only to spend hundreds more on a good car.
To walk on the safe side, you should do free vin check and look over the car history.
Pointer #5: Reputation Precedes Me
While we can never really tell you which seller is the most authentic, we can give you a hint. Sellers who have the best reputation are most credible, and if you've heard of them from a friend who had a great experience, you should give them a try.
However be careful; some sellers may pay others to give them a good review or to spread false advertisement. Double check your sources and ensure that anyone who recommends the seller to you is either a trusted friend or an authentic customer.
Other than that, always check the seller's products and offers yourself. Even if everyone says they're good, see the real deal for yourself. In the end, no one can tell you what's good for you better than yourself.
Pointer #6: The Extra Mile
We’ve all seen "Matilda," and if you paid close attention, you’d have noticed how easily her father reversed the odometer and scammed all of his buyers. While it may be a bit hard to assess odometer fraud, it wouldn't harm to be a bit picky. You might also be saving yourself tons of expensive repairs in the future.
Odometer display the car's "mileage," or in simpler terms, how many miles the car has run. Some sellers may replace or reverse the meter. The easiest way to check is to look for an asterisk (*) on the meter screen. Some manufacturers program their meters to show that symbol in case of suspected fraud or deceit. If there is an asterisk, forget about this car.
Another important pointer to keep in mind is to always look for any missing or tampered screws near or on the dashboard. This would indicate that someone has fiddled with the original components of the car.
Sometimes avoiding scams and frauds is a real challenge, but it certainly is possible. This guide may be able to help you choose more wisely, but the final decision is entirely your call.
So stay safe, and don’t forget to be content with what you have!
Leo works as a writer and esitor for one of the best companies of custom car pars. He provides such goods as he interior and exterior custom accessories, automotive lighting and auto body parts. He tries to position herself as a thought leader in the car world.