Buying a used car can have many benefits when done correctly. A used car is a great way to avoid the depreciation that happens with a new vehicle. Plus the cost of a used vehicle is hard to beat. Unfortunately, no one wants to get stuck with a lemon or end up paying more than it’s worth. A great used car has minimal wear and tear, so it’s essential to know what to look for before purchase.
While we recommend having the vehicle inspected by a professional prior to purchase, these tips can help you weed out potential lemons or issues during the purchase process.
WALK AROUND INSPECTION
- Do a walk around and look for variations in pain color and finish. If you see slight differences in the paint color or finish type, it’s a sign the vehicle may have been in an accident.
- During the inspection, look for paint that has bubbled up. This is a sign of rust under the paint. This is most common at the bottom of the wheel wells and at the corner of doors and trunks. You can also see this around the edge of the rear window in many cars. This rust is like an iceberg – what you see is just a small part of a bigger issue.
- Walk around the vehicle and check to see if you can get a good look through the wheels. Rust can develop on rotors, calipers and drums while a vehicle sits there, but there should not be excessive amounts of heavy scaling.
BASIC INTERIOR WARNING SIGNS
- Look at the headliner of the vehicle. Are there water stains? Look where the rear window meets the headliner and rear seat. Do you see stains at the edges? This could be from a previous leak in the window seal. Are there water stains in the carpet along the edge of the doors or under the dash especially on the passenger side? These are all signs of water intrusion.
- Check under all the seats. If you see air fresheners hidden under the seat that means there is an underlying smell of mold, smoke, pets, or some other cause.
- Look between the seats and in areas that are hard to see and often overlooked by detailers. This might give you an idea of how the vehicle was kept by its previous owner. You might even learn the cause of the smell they are trying to hide.
- Turn the ignition to the on position and make sure the warning lights all come on. Many people don’t know this, but every warning light should come on so you can confirm the bulb is working prior to driving.
- If you don’t see a check engine, ABS, battery, or oil light, it could be a sign of tampering, or the bulb is burned out (very rare). You want to verify the systems are working and there is not an issue prior to purchasing.
- Start the car and turn on the A/C and the heat. Move the vent location to all settings and check for smells.
UNDER THE HOOD
- While under the hood, look for obvious signs of staining on the side or back of the engine compartment. If it looks like there is a rusty film or oily, it could be a sign of previous or even current issues.
- If the compartment is extremely clean or has Armor All spread over the interior, which is a potential sign of hiding something. It is a tactic to make other rubber components look newer than they are.
USED CAR INSPECTIONS
Evaluating a new car can be tricky. Perhaps you understand the need to give the car a once over but don’t feel confident about your abilities in rooting out any potential flaws. Don’t fret. Just bring the car into our shop and your friends at Scott Sherman Auto Care will do a thorough inspection for you to assist in determining the vehicle’s condition and value.