When shopping for used cars, it can be hard to tell which is best for you at first glance. Ideally, you’d be able to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle, but not everyone has the time or money for that. Sometimes you may be on your own.
To help with that, here are some of the most important things to look for when inspecting used cars.
Checking the Exterior
When you inspect a used car on a lot, you can start by checking the exterior for obvious damages or problems. Look for excessive rust or holes and waves in the body – these could indicate structural damage that can’t be fixed easily.
Look for paint color differences or parts like bumpers and doors that don’t match the rest of the body. This suggests repairs that could have occurred because of damage from a wreck or mistreatment of the vehicle.
Also, take note of any paint chips, dents, cracked glass, or other cosmetic damages. While they could be minor, these damages are still necessary to take note of.
Checking the Interior
Now that you’ve checked the exterior, it’s time to see the inside. First, take a look under the hood. If you can, check fluid levels like oil and coolant. Take a look at them – if the oil is foamy or the coolant is a color other than green or orange, this can indicate engine issues.
Now get in the drivers’ side and check things out there. Look for interior damages the same way you did the exterior.
Knowing the History and Taking a Test Drive
If used cars pass the interior and exterior visual inspection stage, move on to a complete history check and test drive.
Make sure to get a copy of the vehicle history and check it against what you’ve seen. Ask for repair and maintenance receipts if they’re available.
When you test drive, turn on the car and sit for a minute. Check for lights on the dashboard and fiddle with all the technology to make sure it works as expected. Run the A/C and heat for a few minutes each. If these things all go smoothly, drive around the block.
While driving, take note of how the vehicle takes turns or goes over bumps. Listen to the engine for strange noises, take note of the steering, and pump the brakes to check how well they work. Bring any concerns to the seller’s attention.
Deciding When to Move on and When to Buy
Now that you’ve assessed used cars, it’s time to decide which to buy and which to leave on the lot. Ask yourself: are you alright with a fixer-upper? Do cosmetic issues matter to you? Is it worth it to purchase a used car with problems if it means it’s cheaper? What makes one used car better than another for you?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can choose the best used vehicle for you! So don’t be afraid to go out and inspect the used cars at your local dealership.
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