10 Things to Check before You Buy a Used Car

Like many people, you probably understand the benefits of purchasing a used vehicle in comparison to purchasing one that is brand-new. Not only is it going to cost you a lot less when you drive it off of the lot, it is also going to depreciate a lot less quickly as well. Of course, that is really only scratching the surface of the benefits of purchasing used and some people are so convinced of the fact that used is the way to go that they would never consider purchasing anything else.

Although it certainly is true that purchasing a used car is a wise decision, it doesn’t mean that you should jump in with both feet and not test the waters first. It is still a substantial investment, so make sure you look closely and make a decision that you are not going to regret at a later time. With so many different options available for used cars on the market, there is no reason for you to have one that is considered a lemon. Here are 10 things to look for when buying a used car that will help you to be happy with your purchase.

  1. Check for leaks – One of the most important things you can do when purchasing a used automobile is to look for leaks. If there are any fluid leaks under the hood or even worse, under the car, it is a clear sign that something has gone wrong. Although it may be nothing, it could also be a sign that there is an expensive repair bill on the way.

The best way to check for leaks is to take it for a test drive. Pull it over to a clean area of the road and let it run for a minimum of 30 seconds. Back the car up and inspect the ground for any fluids. If the fluid is black, it is probably oil. Green fluid means it is leaking antifreeze. If it is leaking pink fluid, that is the transmission.

  1. Don’t skip the test drive – The test drive should not be a simple matter of taking it around the block and seeing how it operates when doing left-hand turns. You should take it on a long test drive that includes a variety of road conditions. Take it on the highway, drive it through town and if you live in a part of the world where there are mountains, try taking it up the slope.
  2. Use all your senses – When taking the car on a test drive, don’t simply judge by how it reacts when you push on the gas pedal or the break. Use your senses of sight, sound, smell and touch to check the car out every way possible including the demon eye headlights. If you hear something, smell something or see something that doesn’t seem right, it is probably a good indication that there is something wrong.
  3. Consider the price – It doesn’t matter what car lot you are checking, there is always going to be some type of room for negotiation. If it isn’t negotiating the price of the automobile they are selling, it may be your trade-in. You can look at the Kelly Blue Book online and check some dealer prices from your smartphone. It will give you an indication of what you should be spending.
  4. Take along a mechanic – We all have a friend that is “good with cars” and they may be able to help you make the right purchasing decision. It’s time to cash in a favor and take them with you to give the car a once-over. They will often be able to discover issues that you would’ve missed. It can save you a lot of hassle down the road.
  5. Understand the VIN – The Vin code is something that should be checked out before you make your purchase. Verify that it is the same with the records and the title. There is sometimes an issue with VIN cloning and it is an illegal scam. Always check the number to ensure that you are buying a used car that is properly registered.
  6. Take your time – One of the worst things you can do is to purchase a used car and then regret it. There is such a thing as buyers remorse and it is especially a problem when you’re making a large purchase. If you wait too long and you miss the opportunity to purchase that car, there will be another one that comes along after it.
  7. Check out the history – It may cost a little money, but you can order a CARFAX to learn about the history of the vehicle. The comprehensive report will pull information, including if it had been in an accident, has any title issues and will give you an ownership history.
  8. Consider going certified – If you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle, it is giving you an additional layer of quality assurance. These vehicles may even come with extended warranties that will help you to sleep at night.
  9. Do some reading – Before you purchase any used vehicle, take some time to read up on the make and model for that year. You may find that there are plenty of reviews online, some good some bad. It can give you an indication if you are headed for trouble or if you are looking at smooth sailing. It is also a good idea to see if there have been any recalls on the vehicle as well.

These are just a few of the many different considerations when purchasing a used vehicle. We all need a car, truck or van to get us from one point to another and when they are running well, life is good. Don’t make a mistake by jumping into a purchase that you are going to regret shortly after you sign the check. Take your time and make the best purchase decision of your life. It is something that you will appreciate, each and every time you turn the key.

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