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It’s easy to walk into a brand new car dealership and buy a car. Once you have done your homework and got your financing approved and all the other research that comes with it. You choose, then you buy with no worries. Brand new car means warranty and less worries about breakdowns.
But what if you cannot afford a brand new car. Then your options are Certified preowned or used car with no warranty. No worries. This Post is designed to give you a few pointers on what to look at when buying that used car that you need without having to bring your own mechanic. One great place to start your search is at Cars.com where there is always lots of listing at all types of prices. You do not have to use the individual dealers websites where all you can compare is their own stock. Once your comparison is done and you have narrowed your choices, now you make arrangements to go see the car.
Things to look for and to keep in mind: Get the cars history report to check for damage. Also, keep in mind where the car came from and recent weather disasters. If there was a recent flood, you would need to be mindful about where the car you are looking to buy comes from. Also keep in mind, used cars from the north will tend to have more undercarriage (underside) rust than a car that comes from the south. The reason: Salt is spread on roads up north where it snows and salt corrodes the metal under the car.
Cars now a days have VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on stickers on a lot of the original body panels. Check for those stickers, if you do not see them, you know the car has been involved in an accident serious enough to require panel replacement. Also verify it is the same VIN number as the car, sometimes body shops use used replacement parts that already have the VIN sticker and they do not remove them.
Bring a flashlight and do not be afraid to look under the vehicle for leaks. Anything that looks oily or sticky usually indicates a leak. Also, while you are conducting your inspection, turn the car on and leave it running. Why you ask? Well, if a car has an issue with overheating, check engine light that might have been cleared for whatever reason, A/C not cooling properly, all these issues are more likely to surface during this time or during your road test because now the engine is nice and warm.
Before you go on your road test. Look at your tires. Dealers like to shine them to make them look pretty, look past that and look at the riding surface, the part that actually touches the road. Are the grooves deep ( Tread Depth) or shallow. If shallow, you more likely will need tires soon. Keep that in mind when negotiating your price. Also a lot of the newer vehicles have wide gaps on the wheels, look between and see the condition of the brake pads and rotors. After checking all that and before your road test, look and test all your lights, wipers, horn, and seat belts for safety reasons.
While doing your road test, the person trying to sell you the car will more than likely be there in the passenger or one of the rear seats. It is ok to talk to them, but also pay attention to different noises that car can make. Anything that sounds too loud or to sharp is not a good indication. Also pay attention on how the steering wheel is doing, is it straight, is the car pulling to one side or the other. Keep an eye on the Dash, there should be no warning lights on. Also keep an eye on your gauges.
When you get back to the dealer after your road test, open the hood one last time and check for leaks again at the top and under the vehicle. If this vehicle is turning out to be the one you want, then the last thing you want to do which most people forget is to check the trunk, is the spare tire there, what about the jack and tools needed to change the tire. Also, remember to pull down on some of the rear carpeting there and check for those VIN stickers. Make sure there are no leaks, all doors open and close easily, windows go up and down, locks all work good and check the accessories, radio, sunroof, etc.
Congratulations, you bought a used car. Now you need to make sure that if you have a child in a car seat you properly and securely installed it, head back to where you started your search, Cars.com/Car Seat Safety Check to make sure you did it right and your child is safe.
Want to share your experience about buying a used car, let us know. Did this information Help?