There is a whole host of things to think about when you are planning on buying a pre-owned car. If you are methodical and take the time to consider your purchase, you could end up saving a lot of time and effort, not to mention money!
The first thing you should do is to have a comprehensive poke around the car. Get down on your hands and knees if you have to get a better look. Rather than worry about muddy jeans, you should be thinking about whether there is a leak in the fuel line or an infestation of rust underneath. If you are concerned about anything at all, scratches and dents alike let the sales staff know. It could result in the cost coming down for you. Check for odd looking spaces in between panels, as they may hint at some issues underneath like a bad repair job or undisclosed accident damage.
|Photo from Flicker|
Paint jobs are expected to be even in colour all across the car. If that is not the case, you could be looking at another indicator of a quick fix that could cost you in the long run. Pay special attention to areas where the paint seems to be bubbled up. This is a sure sign of rust, one of the used car buyers mortal foes.
When you are driving along the road in your new dream machine, you don’t want to be rear ended because your brake lights weren’t working. Bring a friend if you have any free that day, and have them engage all of the external lights on the car, one by one. Move around the outside of the car and keep your eye on each light so you know that it is doing exactly what it is supposed to.
Next, you should inspect the car’s tyres. The first thing to do is to confirm that there is an acceptable amount of tread on show. One quick and easy way to confirm this is by using a 20p piece. And I don’t mean you can pay the seller to look for you, desperate for that shiny coin you hold in your hands. Push the coin into the tyre’s grooves. If the outer rim of the coin is covered, the tyre is fine, in the eyes of the law at least. Next, run your hand over the width of the tyre and see if the wear is even across the surface. If it isn’t, you could be looking at significant suspension problems. This is no fun for anyone, least of all you.
With the suspension in mind, we come to our final external check. Walk to each four corners of the car and push them down. If they spring back up, then you have decent suspension. But if they sag and don’t return to the original position, there is something seriously wrong.
Once you get inside the car, make a note of its mileage so you can compare it with the figure written on the paperwork that comes with it. It is important to judge whether or not the wear on the car’s interior seems to fit with the number of miles it is alleged to have done. When the odometer claims a low number of miles, but the gear lever and steering wheel are worn, it could be time to start asking questions.
When you are in the driving seat, be certain that absolutely everything works.
It is advisable that you should ensure all electric windows and mirrors work properly, and if the car comes with a GPS system, see if it knows where it is. When assessing ventilation, test whether or not it blows both cold and hot and, if there are any steering wheel controls, play with them.
Most importantly of all, always look at the boot. If the seller said there was a spare wheel, now is the time to find out. If it is present, confirm that it is in decent condition.
In summary, you should always give as thorough an inspection as you possibly can. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed and take your time. Look underneath the car for things aren’t normally visible. Look and feel your way around the car and test the suspension. Check the paint for signs of rust. Check all the lights around the car individually before you get into the car. Look at the interior condition as a rough guide to whether the car is as new as has been stated. Go through all of the electronics and try out the things that you feel are necessary. Only hand over your hard-earned cash when you are fully satisfied that every important function is present and correct.