There comes a time when we all have to buy a used car, and it seems that every used car comes with baggage. That being said, you should always thoroughly inspect a used car that you intend to buy. There are 6 major aspects of a used car that are important to inspect, both inside and outside the car.
Before you get in the car, take a look at:
1. The Tires
New tires can be expensive, so you should check to make sure that there is no unusual wear and tear on the tires. Inquire to the seller when was the last time they replaced the tires. You can also double check this by looking at the miles to see if they match the wear on the tires. For example, if the car has low miles, but the tires are very worn down, it could indicate that the tires came from another car or the odometer is incorrect. Neither of these situations is ideal.
2. The Paint Job
The main thing you should be looking for is rust. Rust is fairly easy to spot if you look closely for it. Also look for waves or ripples in the paint, this should indicate that a paint job was done on the car. Another giveaway that a paint job was done is sticky residue from paint tape where the body panels meet. If there appears to be a paint job done, you should ask the owner why there was a paint job done. The car could have been in an accident.
3. Under the Hood
There are three things under the hood that you should be checking when buying a used car. First, check the engine to make sure that there are no cracks or leaks anywhere. Next, check all fluids in the car using by checking the dipsticks. You should also ask the seller when they last refilled their fluids/got an oil change. Finally, you should check that all of the hoses and belts are in good condition. This means making sure that there are no cracks in the rubber or that the hose is not too soft.
Get behind the wheel and take a look at:
4. The Dashboard
Check over the dashboard to make sure that no engine lights or other problematic lights come on. If there are lights flashing on the dashboard, ask the seller about them. Also check out the odometer. You shouldn’t buy a used car with too many miles, or you will end up putting even more money into fixing the car. However, if you are looking for a very cheap car and there is nothing initially wrong with the car, high miles on a car may not be of concern to you.
5. The Mechanics
Make sure all the “extras” in the car work. This means checking the lights, windshield wipers, the windshield wiper fluid, air conditioning, etc. works in the car. The brake lights and head lights are especially important to check, as they could be a safety hazard if not working properly. Air conditioning and heat may not be a priority for some buyers, but you may need these things to de-fog or de-frost your windshield during those cold Wisconsin mornings. The windshield wipers and windshield fluid is very important because they are a safety hazard if they do not work. It will be difficult to drive your car through a thunderstorm without them!
6. The Brakes
This is the most important aspect about the interior of the car to check. Ask the seller if you can test drive the car to test the brakes. Chances are if they say no to a test drive, you don’t want to be buying this car anyways. Check to make sure the regular brakes and the emergency brake works also. No, this doesn’t mean you can drift a car while on a test drive. Try parking on a hill and engage the emergency brake.
If you check all 6 of these things when buying a used car you should definitely still bring the car to a mechanic to check over the vehicle. Sometimes it takes an expert’s eye to catch something that may be wrong with the car. Take the car to a mechanic that you can trust. Happy used car shopping!
About the author: Lauren is an R&R Insurance intern learning about the insurance industry through sales and service experiences.