Finding a used car in good condition is not a matter of luck. First, take the time to do a thorough research on the model of vehicle you are interested in. With this guide, learn how to easily spot potential problems and determine the reliability of a used vehicle. This will save you costly and grueling repairs. The following tips are here to help you avoid buying a wreck, and help you find a car with good value for money.
In this comprehensive guide, we detail step by step how to check a used car before buying.
Buying a car can be an overwhelming experience. Buying a used car then requires extra vigilance and preparation. By analyzing various physical and mechanical categories before buying your next used car, you will ensure that you cover all the most sensitive aspects and get the best price.
- This inspection guide is divided into five parts:
- Inspect the exterior
- Inspect the tires
- Inspect the engine and transmission
- Inspect the interior
- Inspect the steering and suspension
Why check a used car before buying?
No matter who you buy from, always examine the vehicle thoroughly. If possible, take it to a mechanic for a full inspection. Or even better: have a specialist accompany you!
Put on your oldest clothes, and don’t hesitate to get your hands dirty. Get into the towers, apply the brakes! You will learn a lot just by using your eyes, ears and nose.
If you are unsure, bring a friend for help. If possible, carry out your inspection in broad daylight, in dry weather. Indeed, lots illuminated by the spotlights can give cars a shiny appearance and hide possible body defects. Before attacking the inspection, make sure the car is parked on a flat surface, and that it has been stationary for at least an hour.
Find out about the different car models!
To limit the risk of unpleasant surprises, identify reliable models before starting your search. Here is a complete list of sites that will allow you to find out about a car.
So you will be prepared! If the car model you are interested in is known for certain faults or problems, you will only have to pay close attention to these components during the inspection.
On the other hand, find out the average price of the car you are interested in. Look at the cost range for cars that are in great condition and for cars that are in poor condition. This way you will begin your search well prepared and informed. Having a good idea of the price fluctuation depending on the condition of the vehicle, its options or even its age will give you the confidence to start negotiations!
Now let’s move on to the Complete Guide to Pre-Buying a Used Car Inspection.
If possible, find where the car is usually parked. Check this area for old pools of gasoline , oil , coolant , or transmission fluid . On the other hand, the clear water flowing under the car on a hot day is probably condensed water from the air conditioner. Nothing serious !
Look for residue in the exhaust pipe . If it’s black and greasy, it’s burnt oil. The tailpipe burr should be dry and dark gray in color. The presence of a lot of rust can be a sign that you need to change the exhaust system.
Make sure the vehicle is on level ground and kneel down. If the vehicle is high enough, you may be able to do some basic checks underneath. Once under the vehicle, take note of anything hanging or loose under the car. This is also a good time to inspect the underbody of the car for rust.
Rust is caused by salt. This may be because the car is close to salty air. It is also common in some metropolitan areas during cold weather. A rusty car is very expensive to repair, so it is best to avoid any rusty car.
Spread an old blanket on the floor and look under the engine with a flashlight. If you see oil drips , oil leaks, green or red fluid on the engine or on the pavement under the car, that’s not a good sign.
On a front wheel drive car , examine the constant velocity universal joint boots inside the front wheels. They are round, black, rubber bellows on the ends of the axle shafts. If the boots are split and there is a grease leak, assume the car has faulty CV joints. This is another expensive repair.
Structural elements with creases and large dents in the floor or fuel tank all indicate a past accident. The welding on the frame suggests that a damaged section may have been replaced or cut out to carry out repair work. A fresh undercoat can hide recent structural repairs.
Check each body panel and the roof for scratches, dents and rust. Paint color and finish should be uniform and free from ripples.