Buying a pre-owned car, just like buying a new car, can be a great experience when you’ve done your research and are confident that the car you are buying will meet your needs and you can feel comfortable about it. There are seven vital things to check before you buy a pre-owned car that you determine once you’ve decided on the make and model that you want. Research before getting to that checking point can involve looking at Consumer Reports data regarding the safest, most durable, highest mileage, best comfort or other criteria that you have determined to meet your needs and desires. These guidelines are for use once you think you’ve found the car you want.
Explore the Title. Whether you are purchasing the auto from a dealer or an individual, it’s a good idea to see when the car has changed owners. If it has changed hands more than twice in a three year period, you may want to ask whether there were problems with the mechanics of the car or if it was in an accident. This information usually be on the title itself, so ask the owner or dealer representative to show you the title before buying.
Check the Service History. A car that has records of regular oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations and regular “check-ups” to determine its drivability will show that it has been well taken care of and should wear for many more years on the road. When buying from a dealer, purchasing a Certified Pre Owned (CPO) vehicle will assure you that it has had a service check and any repairs recently.
Check to see if the car has been in an accident. An accident can affect more than the outward appearance of a car that has been in a wreck. The interior workings of the motor, screws and bolts and even electrical equipment can be jostled and may not show outward wear until an unexpected occasion. Body shops can do an excellent job matching paint and repairing bumpers, but sometimes by careful examination you can see where the work has taken place. Just Ask.
Check to see that the vital parts are in working order with a test drive. Brakes, steering, tires and a running engine are important working points when you purchase a pre-owned car, but other considerations you’ll want to check are the blinkers, windshield wipers, bright lights, electric windows, locks and even the radio. Go with someone if possible, and have them put on the blinkers and bright lights and check the outside lights on the car.
Check for any engine fluid leakage. By opening the hood of the car, before starting the car and even while it is still running, you may be able to see any leaking water, oil, brake fluid or other fluids dripping out. In addition, go around to the back of the car to make sure that any smoke coming out is not a bluish gray, as this indicates that the engine parts are worn and may need replacing soon.
Check to see how the car has been used. Low mileage may make a car more valuable, but because autos are built to last 100,000 miles or more, a mileage reading of 50,000 miles is not a bad thing. When you can find out how the car was used – commuting for long Vitalflow distances each day, work travel throughout a state or region, or just in-town travel, you will be able to determine how much wear was wrought on the car. If the mileage is low yet there is excessive wear on the driver’s seat and floor, you may want to confirm that the odometer has not been tampered with.
Check to make sure you are paying a fair price. A resource called the Kelly Blue Book has been around for 80 years and can provide guidance for what you should be paying for your used car. It will probably not be able to give you a completely accurate picture of the car you have chosen because wear, mileage and other factors may be different for each model featured, but will help form a range of what it is worth. Buying a CPO from a dealership may be the best way to purchase at an accurate price of what the car is worth.