Buying anything used is never an easy endeavor, and buying a used automobile is no exception. This task gets even more difficult with such a huge choice and price gap on the used car market. If your goal is to save money, don’t despair and think you don’t have a chance to drive a car in good condition that will serve you for years. However, if you are vacillating between prioritizing price over car specs, it’s important to know what to look for in your future car and what to ask the previous owner. In this article, we are going to through some of the most important aspects of buying a used car.
Before narrowing your search while buying a used car, figure out what car parts would be cheap to replace, and what parts should be in good condition for as long as possible. Not surprisingly, the most essential parts are also the most expensive ones — and those are the engine and cylinders. No car owner wants to replace them at any point and neither do you — the price point for these parts may reach $10,000. The transmission would be another costly replacement, as replacing it may cost you as much as $4,000. On the other hand, if a used car is perfect but there’s a good discount because of a faulty air conditioner compressor, it won’t be cost you a fortune to replace it.
2. Do your research
Today there is a multitude of ways to go through a vehicle’s history. Start by getting as much information as possible from the previous owner and searching the car by its VIN (vehicle identification number). Usually, paid services will help you find the most info about a vehicle. Don’t skip this step as it will show you if there were any accidents involving the car, if the car is under a lien, and if there were any recalls on this model.
3. Make sure the issues are out of the frame
The car frame is one of the most important constituents of your car which can also tell you if a car has recently been in an accident. Go around the vehicle and check if the car is standing level on the ground and there is nothing suspicious hanging from the undercarriage. Also, try to see if the car doors close properly — if you have to slam them to close, and even after that you notice gaps, it may indicate that the frame is bent after an accident. A damaged frame is a serious safety risk: with a heavily bent frame, the car no longer drives straight and you may have to steer harder to direct your car. A slightly bent frame also carries a risk: it may cause uneven wear on tires, shocks, and suspension. Make sure those problems are out of the frame until you proceed with your purchase.
4. Check the paint job
While light scratches and paint chips are easy to fix, the rust underneath the paint is what you should really look for. Again, if a rusty spot is small, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. However, you should know the types of rust and how unfixable it might be. Light rust on the underside of the car shouldn’t cause much concern, but if the metal is rusted through and risks approaching a wheel well, for example, you might want to reconsider your choice. The list of unfixable rust spots also includes thin car parts, like body panels or the exhaust pipe. Any of these parts may even have holes, which is a safety risk both for you and other drivers. Frame rust is also risky as it threatens the integrity of a car.
5. Don’t let the interior electronics push your buttons
Air conditioning and heating are vital features for any vehicle to have, so press some buttons and make sure those are working properly. Working radio is a small feature that we may not give great importance to, but we always notice if it’s missing during a long drive, so you might want to check it as well. Fixing your car’s interior electronics is always an option, but it’s always a good idea to check how much service a vehicle needs.
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