There comes a point in almost every motorists life where he or she is going to look into buying a used car weather if you’re a teenager whose getting ready to go to college and looking to buy a cheap set of wheels or an old lady whose only going to use it for going shopping or visiting family every other week. Here are the top 5 tips to make sure you get the best bang for your buck and not end up with something that goes wrong every time you go near it.
#5 A thorough Inspection of the Exterior
Take a good long walk around the exterior looking for any sort of scratches or anomalies in the paint. During the course of a cars life it may pick up various scratches from long journeys on the motorway or being thrashed around the bumpy roads of Pakistan. It is a good way to tell if the mileage registered on the instrument cluster is accurate and has not been tampered with. If it feels like the cars mileage is a bit too optimistic, focus on the areas of the car such as the front bumper, the grille and the wing/side mirrors to look for any tell tale signs of fatigue or numerous scratches that indicate the car has done a lot of miles. If you spot this then there is a good chance that the millage might have had a little haircut at some point. Also try and spot any areas around the car where the paint does not seam to match with the rest of the car. This can be an indication that the car might have had some bodywork done in its life possibly from some sort of accident. Make sure to ask the owner about this. If the car you’re buying also has a sunroof then look at the metal surrounding its edges usually if a car has been in a major accident tell tale sings of fatigue and irregularities such as bumps and edges on the surface can show this and such damage usually cannot be repaired by your typical body-shop workers.
#4 Check the Suspension and Tyres
Tyres are a key factor when buying a used car as they tend to wear quickly and irregularly if they have not been taken care of properly or are just getting old. The first thing to do is to check weather all four of the tyres are the same make and don’t forget the spare. Next turn the steering wheel on full lock and inspect the condition of the tyres by running the palm of your hand over the surface of the tyre. You’re going to want to make sure that all areas of the tyre are at the exact same height without any irregularities and wearing evenly. Uneven wear indicates worn suspension parts, and make sure there is plenty of tread on the tyre by sticking either your finger or a coin into the tread. And if it is 3 mm deep or above, then they are in good condition. You are also going to want to make sure that the tyres aren’t really more than four or five years old. The way to check for a tyres manufacturing date is to look for a long serial number starting with the words “DOT” in the end will be a 4 digit code. The first two letters tell you the week of the year and the last two digits tell you the year of manufacturing.
The best way to test a car’s suspension system is to take it out on the open road for a test drive ideally somewhere bumpy where it will give the suspension a good workout. Keep an ear out for any sort of knocks or rattles which can relate to wheel bearing problems. When the car is stationary give the suspension a good shake for about ten seconds and then suddenly let go. If the car becomes still after 1-2 bounces, the shocks are in good condition however if it keeps on bouncing before coming to a rest then the shocks might need replacement. Test this out on the front and the back of the car as suspension problems can cost a good penny when they need to be sorted out.
#3 Check all Electrical systems and Interior
It is not uncommon for aging cars to suffer from various electrical malfunctions, such as broken power windows, sunroofs, side stalks etc. So you’re going to want to check every single electrical component from the battery to the small light placed in the trunk of the car. If the car has power steering, make sure that there is little to no play in the steering and ensure it’s responsive. Test if the brakes are able to bring the car to a stop in reasonable amount of distance and there is no sound of squeaking or any rattling as faulty brakes can be very dangerous and replacing things such as disc pads can cost a great deal. Make sure the gearbox is running smoothly if you’re picking a manual if you’re having a hard time changing gears the clutch might just need replacement.
When focusing on the interior take some time to check whether the panel gaps around the door and boot are perfectly equidistant. If any panel sticks slightly out of the bodywork then the seal around the door will not seal properly which could let wind noise as well as water inside the car irregular panel gaps are an indication that the car might have been in a fender bender or two at some point in its life and was not repaired properly. When inspecting the seats make sure there are no strange smells coming from the seats. If the seats have seat covers, inspect the original seat material to see if they are still in good condition and don’t have any rips or signs of extreme wear. Expect to find dirt, and most probably crumbs in the car which is not that big of a deal but look closer for any smudges around the interior that appear as if they may be very difficult to remove. Don’t forget the trunk either. Check for signs of any water leakage into the boot.
#2 Inspect the Engine Bay
Do a cold start of the engine and rev it a few times and listen for any rattles or bangs. If you get any of these, they are signs of excessive wear on parts or other mechanical problems. Pop open the hood and start looking for any signs of rust or metal fatigue on any of the parts. Check if the battery is still in working order and not leaking, and search for any signs of dirty oil leaks on the engine block or sides of valve cover, it could be caused by a leak in the gasket. Look underneath the car to find any sort of oil or coolant leak. Inspect all the hoses and belts. They should not have any cracks as repairs for belts alone can be very costly. Double check all the fluids such as the brake fluid and oil. If the oil level is low or dirty then that could mean that the car could suffer from some very serious problems in the very near future. Remove the oil filler cap and inspect it very carefully if there are signs of black residue or dirt. This is a sign of poor maintenance and could become a costly repair.
#1 Dont let millage put you off
Many people these days assume that the more millage a car has the shorter it’s remaining lifespan is, but that simply isn’t true. If a car has been taken care of properly and serviced at regular intervals in its life then it is going to be much more reliable and will have a longer lifespan than a car with fewer miles on the clock that hasn’t been take care of properly. So walk into this with your eyes open and don’t let mileage numbers put you off if the previous owner is able to produce a genuine service history of the car for most of its life then it is going to be a reliable car that will serve you well for a couple of years.