Buying a vehicle doesn’t have to be a hassle! Finding the pre-owned vehicle of your dreams can be an easy process if you know what to look for. Inspecting a used car with a careful evaluation will help you steer clear of hidden problems. Keep reading to find out what to look for when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle!
Do Your Homework
Proper research of the make and model and the vehicle itself can prevent unnecessary issues from popping up. Identifying models that are reliable before you begin shopping is vital. Consumer Reports’ annual subscriber survey provides exclusive real-world reliability information that can help you narrow your selections. If the vehicle you’re interested in is known to have certain trouble areas, you know to pay special attention to those during an inspection.
Always look over the vehicle extensively and, if possible, take it to a mechanic for a complete examination. It is also helpful if you do your inspection in broad daylight on a dry day, as floodlighted lots can make cars look shiny and hide body imperfections. The car should be parked on a level surface and shouldn’t have been driven for at least an hour before your inspection.
Check each body panel and the roof, looking for scratches, dents, and rust. Examine the lines of the fenders and doors. Minor cosmetic flaws and light scratches are nothing to fuss over, but rust is. Check the outer body for blistered paint or rust. Also inspect the wheel wells, the rocker panels beneath the doors, and the door bottoms. Bring a flashlight to look inside the wheel wells for rust.
The quality of the interior is important because you will be spending most of your time on the inside of your vehicle. A musty, moldy, or mildewy smell could indicate water leaks. Remove the floor mats and check for wet spots on the carpet. Try out all the seats even though you may not plan to sit in the back of your vehicle. Upholstery shouldn’t be ripped or worn, particularly in a car with low mileage. Turn the ignition switch without starting the engine. All the warning lights—including the “Check Engine” light—should illuminate for a few seconds and go off when the car starts. Note if the engine is hard to start when cold and if it idles smoothly.
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