For the first time car-owners, buying a used car can be profitable than buying a new one. New cars come with a high price tag and the depreciation is also high nowadays. Hence, for many car users buying a used car seems a viable option since that allows the driver to drive without thinking much about the depreciation or wear and tear costs. Buying a used car can be tricky and many a time vendors use various ways to cover up the flaws. To make sure that one gets a standard vehicle at a negotiable price, there are some guidelines that must be adhered to. Checking the exterior as well as the interior thoroughly is necessary-
- The car’s form or shape must be checked to see if there is any sagging on the body or deep dents on the sides.
- The car should look clean and one must check for any new paint patches which might have been done to cover up rust or dents.
- The trunk of the car should be clear and there should not be any hole.
- The tires should be properly aligned and they should be evenly worn out. Bad alignment of the
- can cause some parts to be more worn out than the rest.
- The front fenders and top of the radiator should be checked thoroughly. The bolt heads should be checked since the presence of scratches indicates that fenders might have been changed (probably after a crash).
- If possible the car should be raised and exhaust systems should be checked. Any black spots on the pipes may indicate leakage. If the exhaust pipes are greasy it may indicate some hidden troubles.
Checking the engine
- Any dent, scratch or rust under the hood indicates that the car was not properly taken care of. Every fender must have a vehicle identification number (VIN).
- The radiator hoses should be firm with no cracks.
- The engine block should ideally be free of any brown stains. Such stains indicate a leak in the gasket which could become a trouble in the future. The brake fluid should be checked and also the reservoir should not be leaking. The belts must look new or without any crack. Replacing a belt may be costly, depending upon which one snaps.
- The filter cap must be removed to check for any foam residue inside. If that happens, then the car definitely has a leaking gasket.
- While pulling out the transmission dipstick, the fluid should be pink or red but it should never smell burnt. It is better to have this test while the engine is running.
- The timing belt is perhaps most important in the engine. If the car is fitted with a steel timing chain then it will last for 60-1000 thousand miles.
Apart from these guidelines, one must also check the car seats, upholstery and the functioning of the windows. The AC, music system etc. should also be thoroughly checked. The odometer will reflect the correct age of the car. Cars age by both time and mileage so even if a car has run fewer miles but is ten years old, it might not be a good option to invest in. On an average, a car runs between 10,000km to 24,000 km in a year, depending upon the previous owner, of course.
The litmus test of the car involves taking a test drive. This actually shows how good the brakes are and how smooth the gear shift can be. Also, it will show any flaw the car has; one must also keep an ear to the different sounds which may indicate the overall health of the car.
If one does not feel confident enough to drive they can always hire a mechanic or bring along a friend who knows about cars. A mechanic will be a better judge of the car and can also advise if the used car will be worth every penny!