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Buying a Used Car Guide
December 17, 2020● 4 minute read●
Buying a brand new car can be an expensive undertaking, but thankfully you have the alternative of getting a used car. A second-hand car isn’t bad; if you know what you’re looking for, you can get great value for your money. So before you head out to the dealer, here are some useful checklists and tips to ensure you get the best value for your money.
The engine is arguably the most crucial part of a car, so that’s the first thing on our checklist. Oil leaks can be a nuisance, so look under the hood for brown or black spots that might indicate fluid is escaping somewhere. Make sure other parts like the head gasket and dipstick are also intact. Fixing an engine can be costly, and you’re better off looking for an alternative than buying a car with a handicapped engine.
Of course, your inspection isn’t complete without turning on the engine. Does it come on immediately, or do you need to jump-start the battery? How about the exhaust? A little smoke isn’t a problem, but too much is a cause for concern.
Tip: Something that’s great to have in mind while checking the engine is fuel consumption. If you’re a stickler for saving the environment, ask about the emissions rating as well.
Manual and automatic cars have different gearboxes, but a good one works smoothly regardless of its type. When checking the engine, it’s essential you check the gearbox fluid, but don’t stop at only that. Check how smoothly and swiftly the gear glides. Pay close attention because it’s a red flag if it makes too much noise. If you’re purchasing a manual car, make sure the vehicle begins moving at the clutch’s midpoint release.
Tip: Before you even head to the dealer, you should know what you want. The transmission of the car and the terrain you travel on are essential factors to keep in mind. Also, decide how much you’re willing to spend, so you don’t waste your time looking at cars out of your price range.
The exterior of the car
It would be best to visually inspect the car right off the bat once the dealer shows it to you. But you also have to take time to check the entire bodywork specifically. Check the front and rear bumps to ensure they are sturdy. If the car looks like it needs a paint job, ask yourself if you’re willing to pay for one, especially considering the price. Search for signs of dent or rust on the panels as well.
Don’t forget to check the tires either. Make sure all four show no signs of slashes or cuts. Excessive tire wear could get you a few dollars off the price if you notice it on time.
Tip: Now might be a good time to ask questions about the car’s security. Find out if there are any unusual features on the vehicle that make it harder to steal or vandalize. It could be a good reason to pay extra or opt for another option.
The car’s interior
Fixing up a car’s interior can also be costly, so if you can save money on one that is in good condition, that would be awesome. See if the seats are intact or if they have any rips or burns, and how extensive they are. What’ the start of the dashboard? Is it stained, or are there holes in it? The roof lining on older cars tend to sag, and you can get some money off if you’re unhappy with the car’s condition.
Check if the internal equipment is functional too. Does the AC cool as expected? Is the radio working? Other parts you want to consider are the window controls, the car’s lock, the indicators on the dashboard, etc.
Tip: Consider the car’s mileage. It gives you an idea of the car’s history. Having the mileage in mind is an excellent way to set your expectations for the car’s interior. If it has a mileage of under 30,000 kilometres, it shouldn’t show signs of excessive wear.
Test drive performance
After thoroughly inspecting the inside and outside of the car, you should take the car out for a quick spin to feel how it works on the road. Not all dealers give this option, but most of them are more than happy to let you, especially if you’re already showing promises of purchasing. Listen closely for sounds as you change gear, increase speed, or make turns. The steering shouldn’t be too hard to turn or return, and the brake should work correctly.
Tip: Don’t feel pressured to buy a car after taking it for a test run. If you’re unhappy with the way it feels, you shouldn’t make a deal. Be upfront about what the problem is and why you’re unsure about closing the deal. Only walk away when you’re happy with the car and terms of purchase.
The final note on our checklist is the documentation of the car. A car without any documentation is a red flag; the last thing you want is to find out you purchased a stolen vehicle, especially when you’re not buying from a reputable dealer. Besides, it’s not only for legality purposes; the documents also help you crosscheck the mileage and car’s history.
Tip: It’s a good idea to ensure the car is also debt-free at the time of purchase. If you’re buying from a private owner, the national Personal Property Securities (PPSR) should have it in their register.
That draws our checklist and tips on how to buy a used car to a close. A lot goes into inspecting a vehicle, and if you’re worried that you can’t do it efficiently on your own, there’s a way to get around that. You can hire an independent car inspector. We hope you found this guide helpful and that you’re satisfied with all your future purchases.
Written by Jacaranda Team