You want to buy a used car because it’s cheaper. That’s okay, but are you sure that the car is in the right condition? If it’s your first car, then you need more information than what you have just heard.
To get a trouble-free vehicle on the road needs you to consider a few factors. They may need you to take your time, but it’s worth it. Here, we will reflect on the things to check to determine the potential defects.
That’s how you can reduce the headaches that come with repairs after the purchase. You will also be able to make an informed buying decision.
Check on the Car’s Details Online
After visiting the seller, one of the things you should request is the VIN. This is the Vehicle Identification Number that will tell you more about the automobile. It’s essential when doing your homework, and it can generate untold reports about the car on sale.
Once you have the VIN, there are websites like VinPit and the rest that can help you generate the data and decode the characters. The given number is unique to that car, and the site will tell you what it carries and if it’s legit.
It’s a good habit to identify the model and the make details, and that is what a VIN will help you achieve. First, locate the VIN in the car and ensure that it matches with what is recorded in the registration details.
Areas that you can look for include the driver’s door or the passenger side and under the windshield on the driver’s side. Where it’s located depends on the car, especially knowing that we have VINs embedded in fingerprint sensors.
That tells you another area to look at is the car’s electronic system. Once you confirm the characters, proceed to use VinPit to look up and decode them. It will later generate a report that shows you the manufacturer details, the model, transmission, fuel to use, and if the VIN is fake or legit.
You can also get more reports which involve the car’s warranty, insurance, accidents, damages, market value, and previous owners. With such information, you will know most of the car’s particulars and if it fits buying or not.
Inspecting the Car
It’s the next thing to do after looking up the VIN. You need to perform a thorough check on the car and, if possible, involve a mechanic. Dress in an apron or get old jeans and a t-shirt for the day.
As you do the inspection, ensure that the weather is fine in the sense that it’s not raining or snowing. The area used for inspection should be dry and flat. For the car, it’s a good idea to perform the inspection before driving the car. It should be off for at least an hour in case it has been in use.
Once you verify the above, these are the areas you need to check to ensure that the car is in proper condition.
1. The Exterior
Start with the roofing going all the way down to check for scratches, rust, and dents. Also, look at the doors and fenders to see if anything is not aligned properly or large gaps. It could be a factory assembly problem or cheap repair.
For the body, is there any filler on it? Place a magnet there to see if it sticks or not. Magnets don’t work on the body fillers, and that’s why you need to carry one for detection. If the car has a few scratches, that may not be a problem, but you should be wary of the rust.
Look beneath the door on the rocker panels, take note of blistered paint and other areas prone to rust. Lastly, on the doors, open and then let it go to see the behavior. If the hinges don’t seem to hold, record that as another problem.
There should be no cracks on the glass. A few mishaps are okay, and you can use that to bargain, but a crack on the windshield, for example, is not good since it will lead to costly repairs. The car’s suspension should be fine, too, and you can test that by bouncing the car on each corner.
Lastly, you can check on the lights and the tires. The former should be working, while for the latter, you can rate using the mileage. If the car has low mileage with new tires, that’s dangerous since the mileage may have been rolled over.
Wear and tear should be even on the tires, but that depends on how aggressive the driver is. If the tires haven’t been rotated, there should be more tear on the front wheels.
2. The Interior
The interior matters, of course, just like the outer view. What you should check on first is the odor. A moldy smell means there are water leaks in the car. Check out the ashtray and lighter positions for smoking evidence.
For the seats, they should be in proper condition, and you can start verifying that with the look and sitting on them. Try the seat adjustments to see if they are working properly. The worst-case scenario is having worn-out seats.
You can verify the pedals and the control instruments, such as the ignition lights, the heater, and the air conditioner. Is there a sound system? It should also be perfect, and you can verify that by turning on the FM radio, use the CD player or connect your phone via Bluetooth.
3. The Engine
This is the part that defines the car. First, check on the general condition and don’t worry about the dust. What you should be worried about is if there is oil all over. The hose belts should have a rubber feel which should be firm. That is opposed to hardness and cracked resemblance.
The engine oil in use should be dark brown and not black. If it looks like honey, then the seller may have just changed it. The radiator should be in good condition, and you can notice that if it’s greenish or orange. If there are green stains on the outer part, that’s a sign of possible leaks.
Still, on the engine, check if the battery is working as it should. There are maintenance-free batteries these days where a green indicator will show you that it’s in proper condition. If you see black or yellow, the battery is dying or not working at all.
Check for the electrolyte in the battery if it has filler caps. If it’s low, it means that the battery has been in use for quite a long time. If your mechanic is around, you can ask for a load test on the battery.
4. Underneath the Vehicle
This is the last part to check before buying the vehicle. First, look at the area where the car is parked and check if there are any leaks. It could be water, oil, gasoline, or the transmission fluid. If there is clear water, don’t worry about that since it could be from the air conditioner.
Check the tailpipe to see if there is a dark smudge or some grease. The former is okay since that is expected of a car, but the latter is not. If you see some rust, you can bear with that but if it’s too much, know there will be a new exhaust system to consider after some time.
Take your time to look under the vehicle for oil drips or any other leaks. If you see any signs, that’s not good for your repair costs.
You now have all the vitals you need to check on a used car before proceeding with the transaction process. You can start by getting the VIN, which will guide you towards checking in the car.
After that, proceed with the checks we have discussed above to know if that’s the car you would like to own or not.