Purchasing a used car is a smart financial decision. It will save you money, and you will get a value-tested, reliable ride for the years to come. Nonetheless, people buy and sell close to 40 million cars each year in the US. That can make it a daunting process. There are hundreds of things to check and test before you purchase a pre-owned vehicle.
Here is a checklist of items you must verify before closing the deal –
- Check the exterior for scratches, rust spots, dents, and hurried paint jobs.
- Always check the trunk to verify the state of maintenance and care.
- Check the car on level ground. The tires should match. Bad alignment of the tires can mean worn suspension components and steering.
- Check the saddle for repair jobs. Bolted or welded ones denote frame damage.
- Make sure there is no rusting of the undercarriage and the exhaust system.
- You need to open the hood and check for damage. There can be rusting, and denting. Look for VIN. Visit vicbaileyvw.com to learn how to check the VIN for various older models.
- The radiator hose should not have holes, and it should be firm.
- Take the oil filter cap out. If it has foam residue inside, walk away from the deal. Foam signifies leakage in the head gasket.
- The fluid on the transmission dipstick should always be red or reddish pink.
- Move to the interior. Check the condition of the seats, the upholstery, and dash. They should not have rips, stains, and tears.
- Always check the status of the air conditioning and the seat heaters. Check if the coolant is R134.
- Find out the car mileage from the odometer. Mileage indicates how much the previous owner has used the car. So, a very old model with fewer miles is not a good indication of the car’s health.
- Check the headlights, parking sensors, cameras, and the stereo system. You should verify the status of every add-on in the car.
- Always take the car out for a test drive before signing a deal. Going on the road with a new ride will give you the firsthand experience of control, the status of the brakes, control of the steering and the noises the car makes on the road.
While brokering a deal, mention the potential repair costs. It always helps to have an experienced mechanic on your side to help you get an estimate of the repair work necessary post-purchase. In case, the secondhand car has a warranty period you might not have to worry as much about repair and maintenance costs.
Always remember that the display price is an estimate and you can negotiate a better deal by relying on logic. Never go by the sticker price, unless you are buying from a friend or a family member you trust. If not, quote a price according to your discussions with the mechanic and as per your observations of the status of the car.