Do you desperately need a new vehicle? If your current ride is on its last wheels, but you lack the funds to buy a new car, you might be able to find an affordable solution in the used car inventory at your local auto sales dealership.
The risk with buying a used car is that cars have literally hundreds of moving parts, a used car obviously has been driven before and has the potential to have any number of hidden problems. To save yourself the headache of buying a lemon, here are a few things you should always do before buying a used car:
- Take a test drive. This might be obvious. But you can get a good read on a vehicle by taking both on the freeway and through around local streets. On the local streets, you can test how smoothly the gears shift and how it feels taking sharp turns. On the freeway, pay attention to how well the car accelerates, and how the engine sounds when it’s working hard. Keep your ears open for any funny noises both around town and on the highway.
- Look for visible flaws. Even if slight imperfections aren’t a big deal breaker for you, any dings or flaws in the interior or exterior can give you negotiating power. If a unnoticeable flaw isn’t a huge worry for you, you can even scan the used car inventory for a car that has imperfections, that will reduce your costs if you’re on a tight budget.
- Check for leaks. Used cars that have been driven for any length of time are prone to leak. Although leaks are unavoidable, any used car lot worth their nickels is going to make sure any leaks in their used car inventory are not obvious. You can make sure your potential new set of wheels doesn’t leak by taking it for a test drive to get the fluid moving, and then letting it sit while idling for 30 seconds or so. When you move the vehicle, check the ground for any oil, coolant, or transmission fluid leakage.
- Research common problems with the make and model you’re considering. Often times, cars of the same model that are made around the same time have similar issues. Finding out what set of problems your new used car comes with before you dive in can help you avoid a nightmare. If they commonly have minor issues that you can live with, you can use it as a bargaining chip to get a better deal.
- Have your mechanic give it a once-over. If you feel convinced you’ve found the right car, take it by your mechanic’s shop before signing the dotted line. Your mechanic will be able to tell if there are small issues that a layman would miss that could turn into a huge issue later. Most mechanics don’t mind taking 10 or 15 minutes to provide their professional opinion, since they will be providing maintenance and repairs down the road.
Do you have any tips for first time used car buyers? What do you consider most the most essential thing to check before buying a used car? Leave us your input below.