How to Inspect a Used Car
Buying a used car can be a fun, yet challenging, endeavor. As consumers, we should aim for the best possible deal on a reliable vehicle that won’t rack up additional costs as soon as we get behind the wheel. Here are three ways to inspect a used car to help ensure its quality before buying.
Even if you’re somewhat inexperienced with cars and auto repairs, it’s important to do a basic inspection of the car. Some of the things you should check to make sure the vehicle is in good condition:
- Check the tire treads for excessive wear
- Check the headlights and floorboards for signs of moisture, which could indicate if the car has been in a flood
- Look closely at the paint job for signs someone may have painted over rust
- Drive the car with the radio off and listen for any strange sounds
If you proceed to buy the vehicle after your self-check, you could still protect against serious problems that may arise by getting an extended warranty.
Ask the Pros & Trusted Friends
To determine the quality of a used car, you should consider hiring a trusted mechanic who can conduct a thorough examination of the vehicle. Trusted mechanics may find things you didn’t notice such as structural issues or engine problems. They could raise questions you may not have thought to ask, and identify whether the car is driving the way it should. The cost of having a professional check the vehicle could end up saving you a great deal of money in the long run.
It’s also a good idea to bring a trusted friend or family member with you during the inspection and buying process. Someone who’s not invested in the outcome could be more objective than you under the circumstances, alerting you to an issue you may have missed or preventing you from making an impulsive decision.
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Check the Records
All cars have a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that can help you determine the car’s history. Online services, such as Carfax, use the VIN to provide you with a detailed report of the car’s records. These records could tell you whether a vehicle has been totaled or how many times it has been in a collision. Only after checking the records, assuming your other inspections pass muster, should you then consider how you will finance the purchase.