The number of consumers looking for used cars is on a constant rise. The reasons behind this may be mass production of new models and the high price tag of new cars.
One thing is certain, everyone wants to go home and park a trouble-free vehicle, but getting one of those has nothing to do with random luck. Getting a reliable used car requires extensive research and the mindset of a detective.
This is why I have compiled this list of things you need to know before making a purchase. By following these tips, you will minimize the chances of having to pay for extra expenses down the road.
Research Like a Pro
Research is basically the one thing that could set you off in the right direction. You should start with a broad approach and then narrow it down to inspecting the few remaining options.
To successfully reduce the risk of ending up with a car that will drain your pockets, you have to start by identifying the models with a great reliability record. This is the moment when search engines should become your best friend. Search for “used car reliability”, “best used cars” and “worst used cars”.
If you are interested in a specific car, search for common troubles related to that model. This will help you determine which car component to inspect when you get the chance to test-drive and inspect a car. In some models it can be the suspension system in others you will have to check for safety features.
Locating the Used Cars for Sale
After you have narrowed down your options you should start locating used cars for sale in your area. There are many websites built for this purpose that allow users to search through cars by using many different factors. Such as, the mileage on the car’s odometer, price and features. After you write down the locations and price range you are ready to go and inspect the cars.
Inspect the Car
This is the critical stage of entire process and it should govern your purchasing decision. Buying a car from a close friend or family member is one thing, but getting it from a complete stranger is something completely different. There are two red flags that should raise an alarm:
- The odometer being rolled back
- The car you are looking at has a salvage title put there by the insurance company (declared total loss)
In case there are no red flags, you may proceed with having it inspected by a mechanic. In most cases you won’t have any problems with a dealership or a private-party seller to have this done. If you are dealing with a private-party seller, ask him/her why he/she decided to sell it. In case they already have a recent mechanic report, insist on taking the car to an independent one of your own choosing.
If you don’t have the time or the money to spend on an independent mechanic, make sure to get familiar with the official DMV’s Used Car Work Sheet and cover the bases as much as you can.
Give it a Test-Drive
If you haven’t already gotten a chance to drive that car model, this is the best chance for you to find out if that model is the one that suits you best. Also, a test-drive is the only way to check out the condition the car is in.
Besides having a look at the car’s service records, here are some other things you can check while you are at it:
- Is it comfortable to seat in the front seat/back seat? Is the position of the seats adjustable? Are all the handles and buttons working? Don’t forget to check the front passenger seat.
- Check the dashboard for any lit lights. If there are any, make sure to have that checked before you purchase the car.
- How does it feel when you have a seat? Is it comfy? Do you smell any gas, or burning oil?
- Check out the brakes. Is there a squeaky noise when you hit the brakes?
- How does the engine sound in idle mode? Are there any weird noises?
As you can see it’s not that hard to pick the right used car for yourself. Spend a bit of time examining the car before you buy it as an investment. The more things you cross of the list, the greater the chances are that you won’t end up with a vehicle that keeps causing you trouble and breaking down.