Before you purchase a new vehicle and look at financing a car online, you need to make sure that it is safe to drive and in good condition. Here’s a guide on how to inspect a used car before you take it for a test drive.
Let’s start with a quick checklist of what NOT to do when looking for a used vehicle:
- Don’t just walk around looking at the outside of the vehicle as you will miss important details that might end up costing you a lot of money.
- Don’t leave things like checking under the car for rust spots, checking the brakes or doing a test drive just before you make an offer as you may not be able to negotiate if you need any further work done on the vehicle.
Here is a quick checklist to go through when you inspect a used car:
- Check the outside of the vehicle for scratches and dents. If there are many, ask for a price reduction or walk away from the deal as it’s probably not worth it.
- Checking under the vehicle for rust spots or dents on the body can give you a clue about how well it was taken care of by previous owners. Check in particular the frame of the vehicle for heavy rust spots or if it’s been repaired. This shows that the previous owner(s) didn’t take good care of the car so you should either expect higher repair costs in future or get a price reduction if there are other problems like bad brakes, knackered tyres etc.
- Examine all tyres to make sure that they’re in good condition and have enough tread on them. If you’re planning to use the car for long distance travel, make sure that the tyres are sufficiently inflated as under inflation can lead to overheating and blowouts.
- Turn on the air conditioning or heater to test if it works well. Air conditioners should not be noisy or leaking and heaters should warm up quickly and evenly.
- Check all lights on the vehicle (including headlights, indicators, brake lights etc.) and make sure they work properly. If they don’t, ask for a price reduction or walk away from the deal as you’ll need to spend money getting them fixed.
- Test drive the vehicle to check engine performance. Engine should not be noisy or stuttering and should have a smooth acceleration without hesitations.
- Look for any oil or coolant leaks underneath the vehicle caused by loose hoses, damaged gaskets etc.
- Test the brakes by coming to a stop in an empty parking lot and using your foot to stomp them hard several times: they should hold firmly with no screeching or vibration.
- Test the gearbox by driving slowly and using both the brakes and clutch several times: shifting should be smooth and easy with no problems when pulling up or down on the gears.
- Check all electrical systems like radio, lights, air con etc. Make sure that they all work properly and are not too old or damaged as it would be a waste of money to buy the car only to spend more money on getting electrical problems fixed.
- Check all mirrors, windows and locks thoroughly for any problems with them. If they don’t work properly or easily, ask for price reduction or walk away from the deal as you’ll need to get them fixed in future.
The inspection of a used car is extremely important to make sure that you’re getting what you pay for, can help you figure out how much to spend on a car and that you won’t run into any problems later down the track. By running through this checklist you can be more confident you’re buying a better quality vehicle.