When viewing a used vehicle you’re interested in, you should do all of the following:
- Perform an external walk around of the vehicle, checking for condition of paint, sheet metal, glass, trim and tires. Be sure to ask the seller when the tires were last replaced!
- Check under the hood, do all the wires and spark plugs appear recent? Are battery terminals clean and tight? You should also look at oil and fluid levels and make sure that belts and hoses are in good condition, not frayed or cracked.
- Check the interior and condition of the dashboard as well as seats, carpets and mats. Since you’re buying used, some degree of wear is expected, but be on the look out for any areas of extensive wear or damage.
- Start the car, the engine should start within 2-5 seconds and not make any unusual noises. With the car running, use this opportunity to check exterior lights, windshield wipers and locks. Ensure that the gauges on the dash can all be read normally and appear accurate.
- During the test drive, be sure to note any discrepancies in handling, accelerating or braking.
Once you’ve gone through this list, any faults you can identify will fall into one of these three categories: a) cosmetic faults you can live with (and are reflected in the price); b) problems which need to be fixed either by the seller or by you shortly after purchase (again, with a negotiated price); and c) issues so major that you walk away from the deal. Do your research, take your time, don’t make hasty decisions, and you will find that pre-owned vehicle that you can enjoy for years to come!
Contributors: Richard Reina from CARiD