Buying a used car is a lot different than buying a new car. Usually you will not have a warranty and that can seem a little scary! We have all heard the nightmare stories from friends and family how they bought a used car and a few weeks down the line something major goes out that costs more than the car is worth. We have compiled 10 things you should consider doing before you buy a used car. This won’t cover everything but we think that they are the most important!
1.) Test drive the car. Never buy a car that you yourself haven’t driven. Used cars can have minor issues in steering and suspension that can cause the vehicle to operate differently than you are used to.
2.) Check the oil. Pop the hood and pull out the dip stick. I know it seems ridiculously easy and it is. See if the oil level is low or is a dark black color. The oil should be somewhat clear of a multitude of colors except for black. Check to see if there is any oil spots on the ground where the car was parked for some time.
3.) Check the exhaust. If there is black, blue or white smoke coming out you could have a major issue. White smoke could mean a blown head gasket as harmless as steam may look.
4.) Check all of the electrical switches inside the car and make sure they all operate correctly.
5.) Check under floor mats for stains and under any seat covers.
6.) Check the brakes. There are two important things to do when checking the brakes. First travel up to a highway speed and slow down slowly to see if there is any hopping or screeching sounds. Secondly you will want to travel up to about 10 miles an hour and depress the brake pedal hard to see if the anti-lock is working correctly.
7.) Check the transmission. See how the transmission shifts through all of the gears pay attention to jerking and thumping noises or feelings in the shifting process.
8.) Compare the VIN number on the title with the VIN number on the drivers side front door jamb. If possible compare the engine VIN number as well (see #10 below)
9.) Do a title search on the car to see if the story the seller is telling you matches the vehicles actual recorded history. We recommend CarFax.com there is a small fee but it is well worth the price paid, remember you are about to spend thousands of dollars on a car!
10.) If everything at this point passes with or without a detailed story from the seller, we recommend taking the car to a reputable mechanic and having them do a multi point inspection. Some oil changing companies offer this inspection for free and you can pay a little extra for a more in depth inspection.
I hope this list helps you when you are ready to buy your next used car! If you liked this post, please share!