When you are buying a used car, you need to take time to inspect important parts of the car and associated documentation. Taking along an auto mechanic or someone who has more technical knowledge about cars will be an added advantage. The two of you will be able to discover things that just one person may not see. Here are a few tips and ideas that will enable you to do a proper inspection on a used car.
- Check Paperwork
Inspecting the documents and identification numbers of the car will help you to avoid buying a car involved in a major accident or a stolen vehicle. If it is a private sale, ensure that the seller owns the car. Compare the details on their driver’s license with the information on the car registration papers. Check the vehicle identification number (VIN), the engine number, number plates and date of manufacture. Make sure that they match what is written on the registration papers
- Examine the Body Parts
Take a close look at the exterior of the car, looking for colour differences or bubbles that indicate an accident or signs of corrosion. Make use of a magnet (a refrigerator magnet will do) and check for suspicious areas that contain body filler. At such areas, the magnet will drop off the body because it cannot stick to the filler. Check for windows or doors that do not close properly or panels that don’t fit well – the presence of these may indicate that the vehicle has been involved in an accident. Examine the tyres for adequate thread which should be at least 3mm. If you notice uneven wear on the tyres, it means that the vehicle has steering or suspension problems. Also, look beneath the vehicle for oil leaks.
- Look Under the Bonnet
Open the bonnet and pull out the dipstick. If you see milky or grey oil, it could be a sign of major engine problems. Take off the cap of the radiator and look briefly at the coolant. Normally, it should be clean and have a bright colour. If you see dirty or dull coloured coolant, it could indicate serious engine problems. Then, look carefully for signs of corrosion on the cooling fans, battery and its mounting platform.
- Check the Age of the Car
Use the information on the car’s documents and the vehicle inspection number to find out the exact age of the car. The car’s age will affect your ability to get a good auto loan to finance your purchase. Generally, the car should not be more than 4 to 5 years old if you want to get a loan from a reputable lender. Also, you should expect to pay about 2 percent or more above the average annual percentage rate APR since you are buying a used car.
- Give The Car a Test Ride
Test drive the car on quiet roads so you can focus carefully on the car and listen to its sounds without distractions from heavy traffic. Ensure that the car is properly insured before taking it for testing. Watch out for the engine’s sound while accelerating, decelerating and cruising either on flat roads or uphill. If the car is in top working condition, the gears must change smoothly as you accelerate or slow down.
Keep an eye on the dashboard and watch out for warning lights and signs of overheating. While driving on a straight road, release the steering wheel and see if it rolls to one side, indicating that it is poorly aligned. With a careful observation of the traffic behind you, place your foot on the brakes a couple of times. It should feel firm and the car must not pull to any side.
- Check the Interior
The interior components of the car also need careful inspection because that is where you will spend most of your time while driving. Examine the carpets, trim and upholstery for signs of wear. Ensure that the airbags and seat belts are still in good condition. Be sure that equipment and accessories like the central locking, power windows, air conditioning, windscreen wipers, and car radio are functioning properly. You may also ask for the car radio’s PIN if it has one.
Careful inspection of any used car will help you to avoid being ripped off by a private seller or dealer. You can use the tips offered here to ensure that you get the best deal anytime you want to buy a used car.