To prevent yourself from having the headache of owning a poorly running used car, use the following tips. And of course, keep a close on the price sticker; if it is far below fair market value, it is probably because someone is desperate to get that clunker off of their hands and into someone else’s. Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Here is what you need to know.
Tip One: Stains and Puddles from Leaks
Peer at the ground underneath the car. If you see any stains or fresh leaks, it is a good indicator that something is wrong with the car. Rust colored stains are a sign of radiator leakage, purple puddles of liquid are due to transmission leakage, and black or brown stains and puddles are either from leaking transmission fluid or oil.
Tip Two: Know Why They Are Selling
If you are purchasing a used car from a private seller, always ask them the reason behind them selling their car. While they may need to get rid of it for an emergency requiring cash or they are ready to upgrade their ride, there is always the possibility that they know their car is junk and they do not want to bother putting the time and money into fixing it.
Tip Three: Rebuilt Vehicles
Examine the car’s seams and make sure all gaps line up from top to bottom. Any gap that appears uneven may be due to accident damage; this also holds true for small dents. All car panels should match in terms of paint color. If the car’s owner has had a custom paint job or he has installed a body kit, there may be hidden damage to the chassis. Other areas to observe are plastic parts, mirrors, lights, and engine bay edges that have been sprayed.
Tip Four: Disclosed Issues
Request that the car’s owner discloses any known problems and defects. If your inspection uncovers more problems that what was originally disclosed, who knows what else he or she is hiding; it may not be the right car for you.
Tip Five: Repair Records
Ask that the seller include all maintenance, oil change, and tune-up records. If he can not supply them, he has probably not had them regularly taken care of.
Tip Six: Car Inspection
Before purchasing the car, ask your mechanic to give it a once over.
Tip Seven: Flood Damage
Cars should have a salvage title and not be sold by any private person or dealership; however, the selling of flood damaged vehicles is an all too common practice. Signs of flood damage may included built up rust on the jack, crowbar, spare tire, door hinges, and the seat’s metal holdings found underneath each seat. If you come across a vehicle that looks alarmingly like one that has suffered flood damage, walk away and move on to the next car and seller.
Tip Eight: Bring a Friend
Bring along a friend who can act as your advocate as well as give you an objective opinion about this huge purchasing decision.