Buying a car is always an important and somewhat confusing decision. It is, after all, a big purchase and there are a lot of factors to consider. Whether you’re heading to the dealership or buying from a private seller, arming yourself with knowledge will help you make the most informed decision and avoid many of the pitfalls that some buyers fall into.
This is especially important when it comes to buying a used car. Even though they are considerably less expensive to buy than a new car, the fact that they have been previously owned and may be several years old already makes it more likely that you may have to deal with some issues down the line. To avoid some of the complications associated with used cars, here are some tips we advise you to follow.
- One of the things you need to check when buying a used car is the car’s history. It is essential that you learn whether the car you are interested in has been in an accident, what kind of damage it sustained if it suffered flood damage, and so on. To do so, ask for the car’s vehicle identification number and run a vehicle history report through Carfax or Autocheck. The report will give you the information that you need, assuming that the incidents were reported. The report will also reveal if a car’s odometer has been rolled back, or if it has a salvage title, meaning the insurance company declared it a total loss.
- When you’re buying a used car, one of your concerns should be to get your money’s worth. Some of the essential factors in the value of a vehicle are its inside and outside condition. So you need to check the interior upholstery carefully and make sure there is no significant damage to the interior. Some wear and tear are to be expected in a used car, so don’t be put off if the interior isn’t as pristine as you would find in a new car. But be wary of signs of rust or other serious wear and tear, as this could indicate the car has not been adequately maintained. You should also check the exterior carefully for any signs of repairs. That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy a car that has been in a minor fender-bender, but you’ll want to make sure the exterior was repaired professionally and that the results are barely visible to the eye. Always open the hood and take a good look at the engine and parts. Dirty and rusted parts can be a strong indication that there may be trouble down the road.
- One of the drawbacks of buying a used car is the fact that they don’t usually come with a warranty. However, some makes give very extensive warranties, and so, if the used car you are interested in is just a couple of years old or has a low mileage, it might still be covered. In that case, you should follow the advice of Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor Edmunds.com, and check if any warranty is left on the car that could be transferred to you. In any case, it is crucial that you have the used car you just bought checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. You also need to have it checked frequently after that to prevent any mechanical problems down the line. This will make your life a lot easier.
- You need to get to know your car. The owner’s manual is kind of like your car’s bible, and you should consult it to learn the ins and outs of your new vehicle. The manual will tell you what kind of fuel the car takes, what all the different buttons do, what type of motor oil you should use, what level to keep the tires inflated to. It is also your first guide in tackling any potential minor issues with the vehicle. So don’t forget to take a look at the manual whenever you have any doubts about your vehicle.
Also, as with any big purchase, make sure you keep all the relevant paperwork (receipts, warranties, etc.) in a safe place, in case you need them.
Buying a used car is not without its risks, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off doing it. If you follow these simple pieces of advice, you will be able to avoid and tackle many of the problems commonly associated with used cars. You will see that, with the help of this advice and your own common-sense, there are a lot more benefits than drawbacks in buying a used car.