For most car buyers, used cars are a practical option when it’s time to upgrade or replace their old vehicle. While most major dealerships and used car specialty stores like CarMax have trustworthy used vehicle programs, buyers should still take certain precautions to avoid a used car disaster!
1. Do Your Research
If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Research the seller, the specific make and model, and compare prices with other reputable sellers before you respond to any listing. It’s always easier to just avoid a sketchy sales situation than it is to back out midway through.
2. Inspect the Vehicle
No matter what the salesperson says, it’s always important that you give any used car a thorough visual inspection to ensure that what you’re being told about the car is accurate. Here’s what to look for:
A. Check underneath the car. Look below the car to make sure that nothing is dangling or loose.
B. Make sure the tires are aligned. Poorly aligned tires are a sign of a worn steering/suspension system. For quick visual identification, look for signs of feathering on the tires.
C. Ensure the frame has not been damaged. Replaced fenders and bumpers are not baggage you want to come along with your used vehicle. Check the saddle connecting the front fenders for scratch marks along the bolt heads.
D. Look under the hood. Even if you’re not a mechanic, taking a peek under the hood can be extremely beneficial if you know what to look for. Immediately keep an eye out for any dents, rust or other visible damage. From there, check the engine and the belts for any visible cracking, leaks or corrosion.
E. Check the oil filter. If there is any foamy residue inside the oil filter cap, avoid this vehicle.
F. Look at the tail pipe. If you see black, greasy residue, that could be a sign that the engine is burning oil.
G. Check the paint. Even on a used car, the paint job should be uniform, look carefully to ensure consistency. An inconsistent paint job could be a sign that there’s more to the car’s story than you are being told.
3. Request a Vehicle History Report
Even if a car looks good, there is still a chance that the vehicle might come with some baggage that the dealer isn’t telling you about. Request a report from an organization like CarFax while you’re at the dealer, or use the vehicle’s VIN number to pull your own report on vehiclehistory.com.
New or Used, Trust the Pros at Colony One to Keep Your Car Running its Best
The ASE Certified Master Technicians at Colony One have the expertise and professionalism necessary to keep your used car in great shape. From routine maintenance, pre-purchase vehicle inspections, or new parts and more, our team can help you get the most out of nearly any vehicle, new or used.