Don’t Get Scammed: What to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Car

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 7, 2016

Buying a pre-owned car has its challenges. It’s hard to look for The One when there are so many choices to choose from and there are so many dangers lurking. Liking a car at first glance and jumping on board right away and buying it could spell disaster. Regrets come to those who don’t mind that the car has been to the mechanic hundreds of times and that its previous owners tried to make it swim. That’s throwing your money out of the window.

Sometimes there are a lot of cheap almost-too-good-to-be-true choices but every potential buyer must know how to filter through the ones which are worth paying for and the ones that should have been thrown straight into the junk yard instead. So to help you make the right choice, here are a few essential guidelines. Make sure you remember these by heart so you don’t make a decision that you’ll soon regret. Here goes!

First, make sure that the vehicle has a title. You don’t want to get in trouble with the law, right? So before buying a second-hand car, make sure that the car has complete documents. Also, make sure it has a CLEAN title. You do not want to end up owning a stolen vehicle from Paris, would you? Well, imagine getting tangled with the Feds and some secret mafia. We’re just exaggerating but I’m sure you get the whole point.

Also, try to get a salvage title especially if the car has been damaged and cost for damage is more than the car’s worth. So it’s better to make sure the seller makes it all clear that that vehicle is clean and has the necessary documents. Remember that after a while, some parts of the car may begin to fail and sometimes it doesn’t really show in the mileage.

An average American drives an estimated 13,476 miles per year, regardless of what insurance companies will say. For example, a 1996 car that has approximately 270,000 miles in it has a significantly higher mileage compared to a car with the same production year but with only 130,000 miles in it.

Taking note of the car’s weak points will also help you in your assessment. And there will be weak points; don’t be blind to them. It is also important that you do your research. What are the car’s specs, when was it built, where did it come from? Also check if it was a recalled model. What it was used for and what problems they encountered with it are very important in your assessment. You do not want to own a 1996 car that has a history of a bad thermostat.

While you’re enjoying your day in your not-so-new vehicle, the coolant suddenly starts to burst out from under the hood. While it’s a very embarrassing experience, there’s no one else to blame except you for not checking the car’s history. Also, if you’re buying a car that has been recalled in the past, do not forget to check with the dealerships before fixing it. They have a way of knowing using the car’s VIN if the recalled part has been fixed or not, and they’ll do it with no extra charge.

There are a few glitches that are okay but there are just some that you cannot just shrug off. As a buyer, you are entitled to check everything. By everything, we mean that you should make a tactile assessment of the brake rotors, check the pads, and look for rust and cracked dust boots as well as leaks.

Also, look inside the trunk and check for corrosion, look inside the engine bay for corrosion and if there are hoses with holes, make sure that all of its lights work, and avoid things like aftermarket alarms.

Bushings, tire tread, shocks, wheel studs, and chips and damages on the wheels should also be checked. And it won’t hurt to smell the interior of the car; if it smells funny, it’s time to walk. Also, check service receipts if the seller still has them. Lastly, always insist on driving the car yourself.

The seller might take you for a test drive with you in the passenger seat for you to get the feel, but it’s entirely different if you drive it yourself. But if the seller refuses to let you drive it, then this should be a red flag. Now, if you’re given the chance to drive, check on these basic things: alignment, acceleration, braking, steering and visibility. And also, always be aware of how the tires are behaving. You’ll know that the alignment is bad if the tires get an uneven tread because it will reflect on the behaviour of the car.

That’s it. Make sure you follow these tips for a hassle-free purchase. Remember, other than getting your money’s worth, it is always better to be thorough to save yourself from a ton of expenses and trouble later on.

Topics: sales

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