Buying a used vehicle can be stressful. Most drivers don’t have the training to spot all potential issues, but they can still take a few simple steps to ensure that they’re not buying a lemon. Read on to find out about four essential things to check before buying a new car.
Check the Mileage
The mileage will be registered on the dashboard odometer. Average drivers put between 10,000 and 15,000 miles on their cars each year, so expect older used vehicles to have higher odometer readings. Low mileage isn’t necessarily an indication that the vehicle is in great condition, but it’s a good way to open up a conversation about the vehicle’s primary uses. A car used to drive to the store and get groceries once a week, for example, will have less wear and tear on it than one used to make multiple cross-country trips.
If the car has a lot of miles on it, don’t automatically count it out. High-mileage vehicles that were well maintained may still be worth the money, and it’s often possible for buyers to negotiate a lower price. Buyers on a budget can also go to webuyexotics.com to learn how to sell their existing sports cars to raise money for a new vehicle.
Look for Leaks
Check underneath the car for fluid leaks. Black fluid usually indicates an oil leak, while a reddish fluid is usually coming from either the transmission or the power steering. Yellow, green, or pink fluid could be a sign that the car is leaking antifreeze.
Leaks are a clear sign that the car will need repairs. Oil and transmission fluid leaks are more concerning to most buyers than antifreeze leaks, but drivers who live in states that perform comprehensive vehicle inspections should note that any leaking fluid could cause their new cars to fail. Avoid cars with oil and transmission leaks, as it will be expensive to replace or repair a transmission or engine.
Check for Frame Damage
While some minor exterior damage like dents or scratched paint can usually be repaired easily and affordably at a body shop, any amount of frame damage should be considered a serious red flag. Even if the damage was repaired by a professional, it will substantially reduce the car’s expected lifespan. Check the undercarriage where it connects to the front and rear fenders and the bolt heads at the top of the fenders. If there are signs of welding or added bolts, look elsewhere for a new car.
Ask for a Service History
Sellers should be willing to provide a service history for their vehicles, and drivers should verify it using a company like CarFax. This detailed record should include relevant information like how often the oil has been changed, whether any main components have been replaced and whether the car has required substantial repairs following an accident. If the seller claims to have done work on the car at home, ask to see receipts for replacement parts to verify the repairs.
The Bottom Line
The four key points discussed above don’t cover everything that could be wrong with a used car. They do, however, offer buyers some insight into what to look for to avoid purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t have much life left in it or will need substantial repairs. If possible, buyers should have independent mechanic inspect a vehicle to verify it is worth buying.