What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Buying a car, whether new or used, is a commendable achievement. The process could also prove to be difficult, especially if you lack the necessary information. Since your money is on the line, it is in your best interest to make the best choice regarding acquiring an asset that might end up being a life companion. Once you venture into the market, you will encounter a lot of flowery sales pitches, half-truths, and lies from salespeople. It is essential to keep in mind that car sellers want to get rid of stock, and the only way they can do that is if you buy the car regardless of its condition. To avoid taking home a piece of metallic junk, this article will educate and inform you on what you should look at before closing the deal. This will help you to avoid potential mechanical, financial, legal, and other problems that may result from buying a poor quality vehicle.

Body Damage


Many people will judge you based on how good your car looks. Most of them only care about the visible part, and that is the body. As such, it is important to look around the vehicle for body damage, panel gaps, scratches, and dents. It is also important to note that some areas of the car take more damage than others do. A more in-depth look at such parts will reveal how much the car has been battered. Check for signs of body damage on the fenders, bumpers, grill, side skirts, lights, side mirrors, etc. If these parts are heavily damaged, walk away from the car because they show signs of poor maintenance and accidents. You do not have to walk away if the damage is minimal because it can be easily repaired. Minimal damages include the lack of luster on chrome parts, missing logo, small dents, etc. It is important, however, that you negotiate with the seller regarding who bears the cost of repairs.

Frame Corrosion


When buying a car, you need to be aware that a shiny paint job and dazzling extras on the car’s body could conceal serious faults. Frame corrosion is a common problem, especially among cars that were used in areas that experience heavy snow. While salt is a friend to your health, it is an enemy to your vehicle. The frame, being the bottom part is exposed to water, dust, air, and salt (in some cases). When you expose water and iron to air, it will rust. If you add salt to this chemical reaction, the result is as perilous as ignorance. Frame corrosion means your vehicle’s base structure is weak and could break at any moment. Trust me; you do not want this to happen to you since it renders your vehicle un-roadworthy. The resulting repair costs are almost equivalent to purchasing another car. As such, you have to check the underbelly of the vehicle for signs of corrosion. The best place to check is the brakes. If they have too much rust, check the frame twice.

Electric Systems


The electric systems control every aspect of the car from how the engine works, when the car changes gears, how much fuel the car consumes, to mundane bits like how fast your window winds up and down. Check whether each button in the car works as it should. Make sure also to inspect the vehicle for visible marks around the buttons. Such marks could give away shoddy repairs or abuse of the vehicle. Used cars usually have a plethora of minor electric faults that could frustrate you along the way. When the systems cease to work, for instance, you have to dig into your pocket to pay the repair costs. Another bit of the electric system is located under the hood in a small box known as the ECU (Electric Control Unit). This unit controls the engine, transmission, acceleration, braking, and other crucial aspects. Ask the seller to show you the unit and inspect it for signs of damaged wires around the ECU. Such damage acts as a pointer to the state of the vehicle.

Replaceable Parts


Wear and tear is a common phenomenon in cars. Used cars elicit a high rate of wear and tear. This means you have to check the vehicle and determine what level of wear and tear is acceptable to you. Examples of replaceable parts are windshield wipers, tires, brake pads, light bulbs, tires, and timing belts. These components need replacement after a fixed duration of time, usually measured in miles. However, parts like the tires, windshield wipers, and light bulbs are replaced at the discretion of the car owner, though many dealerships will maintain a minimum standard for outgoing vehicles. Ensure all the components work properly, and when in doubt, ask for help from a qualified mechanic. Since most of these parts are within your line of sight, take a good look at their condition since they will help you get a picture of the overall state of the car. Replaceable parts that are not adequately fixed or maintained indicate carelessness. They also invite you to inspect the vehicle further.

Signs of Tampering


It is easy to fall victim to unscrupulous dealers, especially when purchasing used cars. Sometimes, it is hard to tell if there are any signs of tampering with the vehicle. A sure way of determining whether the car has been tampered with is to check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). This number is located under the hood, on the chassis, and at the driver’s side doorjamb. All of these numbers should match. If they do not, or they show little marks on them, it is possible the vehicle was stolen, or someone tried to commit fraud using the car. The odometer is another way to check for signs of tampering. The odometer shows how much mileage the car has covered, thus forming the price basis for the car. Some sellers clock this dial backward so they can raise the price. Check for marks on the dashboard, especially around the instrument cluster. If possible, you can verify the mileage online.

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AutoInfo Staff