Although I would have loved to buy a brand new car, I couldn’t afford one. Hence, I had to take my quest to buy a secondhand car. I was a little apprehensive, as I heard horror stories from family and friends and did not want to end up with a car that cost more money to keep it running. My desire was to buy a used car with minimal wear and tear and one that is mechanically sound.
Why is it Important to Check a Used Car?
Don’t let the low price be the deciding factor when buying a secondhand car. If the car has mechanical faults, you will be spending a lot of money getting your vehicle roadworthy. Furthermore, if the problems are minor, you can use them to your advantage to negotiate with the seller. That is why it is advisable to get a qualified mechanic to check and inspect the car thoroughly.
Besides ensuring the seller had a Safety Certificate for the vehicle, I put the car through a pre-purchase inspection. I even got my friends at Mr. Cool, the automotive air-conditioning specialists in Brisbane, to inspect the air-conditioning of the vehicle I was interested in buying. This is why I got a good secondhand car that was roadworthy and did not put a strain on my bank account.
Inspecting and Evaluating a Secondhand Car
It is important to first allocate a budget for the car. Once you know how much you can spend, you can narrow down your search. I also spent time deciding the make and model I wanted to purchase. This helped me research common problems that the make and model has and as a result, I knew what to keep an eye out for.
I also advise you to inspect the car during the day. Choose a time when there is ample sunlight and be sure to carry a torch to get to those hard-to-see nooks and crannies and interiors.
With the mechanic, I began evaluating and checking the car thoroughly. These were the things I looked for.
Rust:Not only does rust spoil the aesthetics of the car, it is also pretty expensive to fix. Tomorrow, when you want to sell the car, you will find rust causing its value to fall. So check the chassis, floor of the car, wheels, exhaust and muffler for signs of rust or recent repair. If you have a mechanic with you, he will be able to tell you whether the car is affected by rust.
Tyres:The state of the tyres can tell you a lot about the car. If the tyres have excessive wear, it means you would have to replace them. If the wear is uneven, find out whether the car was involved in an accident. Uneven wear of the tyres can also occur when the wheels are not aligned properly.
Mileage:Check the mileage on the odometre. If the mileage is low and the tyres are worn out, something is fishy and you should get mechanic to check it out. Also, if the mileage is low, but the tyres look new, you should find out why the vehicle has new tyres. You don’t want a car that has clocked a lot of mileage, as it will not give you dependable and reliable service for too long.
Engine:Visually inspect the engine. It should be clean, with no signs of leaks. Check the level of the oil as well as the appearance of the oil. If the stick comes away looking dirty, the car is not being maintained by the owner. Also, open the radiator and check the color of the coolant. Do you see a film of oil on the surface? If yes, it means you will have to replace the gasket which is quite expensive. Does the coolant have a green or rust color? It should be green in color. Check the fan belts on the underside. There should be no sign of wear and tear.
Test Drive: After checking under the bonnet and visually inspecting the vehicle, it is time to take it for a drive. This will give you an idea how easily the engine starts, whether the drive is smooth and whether you can hear some strange sounds while driving. So, use the test drive to check the air-conditioning, heating, wipers and other accessories inside the car.
Make sure you also ask your mechanic for his opinion. If there are minor repairs, negotiate the selling price. If the car requires major repairs, you should think of checking out another model or make.