The used car market has very tempting offers. It is true that many believe that buying a used car is paying for someone else’s problems; unfortunately, some “professionals” of dubious morals have done a lot of damage to this sector. But, with these simple tricks, it will be difficult for you to be given “cat for hare”. Thus, once you have decided on a specific model and have located some candidates, follow these steps to get your decision right. Talk with the owner if possible and avoid any broker.
You have to try to be a little psychologist; talking to the seller we can find out if he is a careful person with the car or not, why he sells it, if the person is its first owner.
Points to check
The first thing to do is look at the exterior of the car; check for bumps. Scratches and small dents in parking should not discourage you when buying a car: they will serve as a weapon to negotiate the price, but they do not mean anything serious.
Look for asymmetries in the body. If a headlight is lower, if the bumper has more gap between it and the fin on one side than the other, or if the hood adjusts more on one side, it indicates that there is a badly repaired blow; that should put us on alert.
Check all the lights, lights, moldings. Be wary of the cars that equip the “tuning” type rear lamps, they are sometimes mounted after an accident, since they are cheaper than the original ones.
Open the hood and check the headlight mountings, front struts, and shock mounts. Keep playing the seven differences, if the weld on one of the struts is different from the one on the opposite, it may have been repaired.
Since you are in the engine compartment, check for oil leaks, if the mechanics are too clean or too dirty.
Ask the owner to start the car. Observe if the propeller rattles too much during the starting process: it could indicate that some motor support is broken.
With the engine running, ask the owner to turn the steering to one end and the other. If you hear a kind of growl, it may be due to a low power steering fluid level, indicating a leak in the assist system. If squeaks are heard, it is usually due to a poor or loose auxiliary belt.
With the steering to one side, check the condition of the drive axle covers and steering knuckles, the trapezoidal blocks, etc. Some cracked or broken tires indicate the real mileage of the car.
Examine the brake discs; if they have a shiny, embossed edge, they indicate high wear. If the car doesn’t have many miles and the discs are badly worn, it usually means that the driver is overusing the brake or driving too fast.
The trunk is also a place to investigate. If the carpet is very worn or dirty, the car usually runs heavily loaded. Raise the mat and look at the hole in the spare wheel. If there are humidity, oxides, etc. it can indicate that the boot does not close properly or that water enters through a rear light, which may be the consequence of a poorly repaired blow.
Check that you keep the jack and the typical tools (wheel wrench, anti-theft nut, jack, screwdriver) that come with the car.
In the cabin, look under the seats and rugs. If there are crystals, it could be due to an attempted robbery or an accident: ask the owner.
Check the operation of all the electrical systems of the car. Operate the windows, the seats with this regulation system, the air conditioning, the wipers and all the accessories that the unit in question mounts.
You shouldn’t be scared by the number on the dashboard. A well-kept car can go many thousands of kilometers without problems; Take a look at our feature story on scheduled vehicle obsolescence to check it out.
Look for inconsistencies. If you mark a few kilometers, but the steering wheel, gear knob and pedals have a lot of wear, be suspicious.
If the clutch pedal shows more pronounced wear on the left side, it may be that the driver usually carries his foot resting on that pedal. This will have left a mark on the clutch and is an expensive repair.
Now that the engine is warm, carefully remove the oil filler cap and check for smoke . Put your hand up and if a lot of pressure is generated, bad news. The engine is worn and causes the cylinder compression to pass into the crankcase and, through the ventilation, up to the rocker cover. Find another car.
Behind the wheel of the car
If all goes well up to here, the moment arrives to roll with the car. Ask the owner to drive him first: this way you can see if he is very abrupt, if he does not use the gear well, if he speeds up the gears too much.
When your turn comes, it will be easier to notice mechanical problems if you are careful behind the wheel. Hit the road and shift into the longest gear, accelerate smoothly from 1,200 rpm and check to see if the car is steadily gaining speed. If it gives little jerks, there may be a failure in engine management.
It lowers a couple of gears and revolutionizes the propeller, looking for strange noises in the high speed zone.
In an esplanade, turn the direction to the fullest, put first and begin to turn. Repeat the same to the other side. If when you are turning you hear a ” cla, cla, cla “, it is almost certain that it has a bad CV joint.
The gears should enter smoothly and without “scratching”.
Check that gently braking the car does not tend to go to one side or the other. If you do this and the wheel pressure is correct, you may have a problem with the brake caliper or a seized brake caliper.
If you don’t find anything strange with these checks, chances are you’re in your next car. Adjust the price and go ahead!
To make a smart purchase , especially when it comes to buying a used car, you need to do your homework well and protect your investment. So we share these 13 questions you must ask about the previous life of a used car.
- 1. How many kilometers does it have?
If you are looking for a low mileage vehicle, finding out that the car has 85,000 miles (136,793.9 kilometers) on the odometer will help you remove that vehicle from your list. Mileage is a key factor in used car transactions, be sure to ask this question first of all.
- 2. Why is the vehicle for sale?
Many used car buyers fail to ask an obvious question: why are you selling this vehicle? Maybe the seller needs the money, is trying to get rid of a second car, wants to buy a new or newer car, is moving out of state, got a company vehicle, and doesn’t need to own another, are some of the reasons or different reasons they can give.
To get a good idea of what the real reason is, start a small ice-breaking talk and open the way to promote dialogue about the possible transaction. It’s easy to do this while walking around the vehicle for visual inspection or sitting in the driver’s seat taking a look inside.
- 3. How much are you asking for the car?
Any price negotiation has to start somewhere, so the best way to get this process going is to ask openly what the seller is asking for the car. If it is too high, it is the end of the talk. If the sale price is in a reasonable range, you can go to the next question.
- 4. What are you willing to give up to sell the car?
If the seller seems willing to negotiate , that’s a good sign. There may be items that need to be changed or fixed; such as the need to replace four tires, which is another expense that the seller must consider and lower the sale price.
- 5. Where did you buy the vehicle?
You should absolutely not notice any doubts in the seller’s voice when you ask them this question. The answer will be very informative, not only for the city and the state in which the purchase was made, but also for knowing which person sold it.
- Was it a distributor?
- Was he the original owner of the car ?
- Was it from an auction?
- Was it in a state where flooding or hurricanes are common?
- Was it a police chase vehicle or taxi in your previous life?
- Was it a rental car or an off-lease car?
Here are some questions you can ask to learn how the seller obtained the vehicle.
- 6. Do you have the invoice in hand?
There’s no point in spending your time with a salesperson who has to go through a thousand things to get the bill. If he or she has the document in hand, the whole process will be much easier. It only depends on how much you want that vehicle and how long you are willing to wait for the delivery of the documents. Having the papers in order also protect you against scams.
- 7. How long for a test drive can I take?
No seller in their right mind would deny a potential buyer a test drive, but how long are they willing to let you be behind the wheel? If they say less than 30 minutes, it’s probably a time you want to increase.
There may be some weird sound or problem that only comes up after a certain amount of time on the road. On the other hand, don’t expect to have the car for an hour or more. You’re likely to make the seller very nervous, and you can’t blame him for that. He doesn’t know you, either.
- 8. Can I see the car maintenance records?
This is a great selling point for smart sellers. If they are able to produce accurate and regular maintenance records for the vehicle, you will be more convinced that the car was well maintained. Another way to get to this is to ask the seller what type of oil is used in the car. If you change the oil yourself, you will know the answer. If you
He says he has to check his records, chances are he has the data, which is another good sign. If you don’t know and don’t have records, that’s not a good sign.
- 9. Would you mind if I bring my mechanic (or another independent professional) to inspect the vehicle?
No one wants to buy unforeseen difficulties. An honest seller should have no problem allowing the car to be professionally inspected by an independent entity, mechanic, or other. If the seller resists, they may have something to hide, in which case you should leave soon.
- 10. Is it the original color of the car?
Finding out if a vehicle has been repainted will tell you a lot about its history. A rare color is certainly not from the factory, but a new paint job could be the result of an accident, negligent driving, or careless maintenance, or it could be all three.
- 11. Has the car suffered an accident?
Don’t be shy about asking this question. You will be able to verify the answer with a vehicle history report, but why not ask the seller for it? If yes, ask to see repair records to make sure the car was repaired by a reputable mechanic and / or a repair shop. If you want nothing to do with a car that has been in an accident, now is the time to go.
- 12. Are there recent fines or notices on that vehicle?
Although they are not so uncommon, it is important that you make sure that the warnings or infractions about the vehicle you are seeing have been handled correctly. If the seller doesn’t know, stay away from that car. You could have unattended fines or surcharges that could put the unit at risk.
- 13. Check the serial number
There is nothing wrong with asking the seller to show you the serial number. Find out if you do not have any reports or problems and if it corresponds to the vehicle they are showing you.