5 Actions to Help Determine the Condition of Used Cars

Used cars make excellent starter vehicles for first time buyers. They are also an excellent option for those who just don’t have the finances for a new model. Buying a used automobile can actually turn out to be a really worthy investment, though you do need to do your own research once you’re at the dealers to ensure that you drive off the lot with a car that is in near-perfect operating condition.

The Test Drive

The test drive is your opportunity to get an initial feel for each vehicle you’re considering. See how it performs on local roads as well as on freeways. You should also keep your ears open for unusual engine noises, and perform a visual inspection to ensure that all the meters on the dashboard are working properly.

When you return to the dealers after the test drive, get out and look under the base for leaking fluids. Black fluid is often an indication of leaking oil. Pink fluid may indicate a transmission fluid leak. Green fluid means there’s a leak in the anti-freeze.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

If you’re versed at looking under the hood, then you shouldn’t have problems performing your own inspection. Alternatively, it may be helpful to hire a mechanic to conduct a pre-purchase inspection. All used cars should undergo some sort of inspection either by you or a certified mechanic.

History Report

Always obtain a history report of the vehicle you’re considering purchasing, which is available both at the dealers and online. A report will reveal whether the vehicle has been in past collisions. If the accident was the result of a minor fender bender, then you can pretty much let it slide. However, you do need to contemplate whether a car that has been in a serious collision is reliably operable.

Research the Price

Always look at the Blue Book value to determine what the car in good condition would be worth and compare that with the price the dealer is offering. Factors like mileage, previous accidents, and overall condition will dictate the final price. Obviously, if the asking price is way above its Blue Book value, then you should look elsewhere. Unless it’s a modified or vintage model, you should never pay more than what it’s worth.

Determining the VIN Number

When checking out used cars, be sure that the vehicle’s VIN number matches what is shown on records. There is a prevailing scam known as VIN cloning, in which a VIN from a stolen car is replaced with one that is legally registered. Buying a vehicle with a swapped VIN means you could be held liable for problems like accidents and parking tickets accrued on the vehicle that’s using your VIN. Most dealers carefully check their records to ensure that all automobiles in their inventory aren’t exploited in this manner. However, always exercise caution if purchasing a used vehicle from a private seller.

Researching used automobiles require more research than buying a new one. However, if you do your homework, you will more than likely find an excellent deal.