Shopping for a used car isn’t as easy as heading into a dealership, pointing at a car, and then signing all of the necessary paperwork. Rather, it requires a fair bit of research and commitment by a prospective buyer. Unless you want to risk purchasing a lemon, it’s important for customers to complete several essential steps as they’re shopping for a used car.
Below, we’ve explored several important (albeit, forgettable) steps of the used-car-buying process that shouldn’t be ignored under any circumstances. While these random tasks may be minor inconveniences, they could ultimately play a huge role in preventing any issues and inconveniences from occurring in the long run…
Don’t Forget to: Inspect… Inside and Out
Sure, we’re sure you already know that you should be giving a targeted used car a full inspection before you commit to a purchase. However, most customers just give a quick look at the exterior, assuring that there aren’t any scratches or dents. Unfortunately, those minor blemishes could prove to be the least of your issues, as there are a number of additional cosmetic problems that could have a long-lasting impact on your target.
When you’re giving an inspection of the outside of the vehicle, you’ll want to assure that all of the mechanical components are intact and in good condition. These are arguably the most important aspects of your ride, and you’ll want to be guaranteed that these parts are in good working order before putting down any money. You’ll also want to make sure that there aren’t any leaks coming from the bottom of the ride. This will be especially easy to notice after you’ve moved the car; if there’s a small puddle where the vehicle used to be parked, there’s undeniably some kind of leak.
The interior inspection is arguably more important than the exterior review. Primarily, customers should be keeping a particular eye on any water damage. These vehicles occasionally flood (pun intended) dealership lots, with some untrustworthy sellers putting these rides on the market despite their previous issues. Water damage can be especially devastating to a vehicle, so it’s best to avoid any car that have previously endured this ordeal. A major telling sign is inconsistent upholstery, as previous owners may have tried to mask the cosmetic water damage.
Customers should also observe the cleanliness of the interior, especially if they’re pursuing a vehicle from a private seller. Often, a car’s interior condition is synonymous with the car’s mechanical condition. If the driver couldn’t take the time to assure that their interior was taken care of, how can you be so sure that they also took care of the engine and mechanical components?
Don’t Forget to: Test Drive
Another way to identify any potential problems with a targeted used vehicle is giving the car a test drive. This little excursion is certainly useful as you’re trying to determine if the vehicle is even a proper fit. However, a test drive may also showcase any worrisome problems that are lingering under the hood.
For instance, a test drive may reveal an odd sound that appears when you test the vehicle too hard. You may also notice some odd shaking or vibrations coming from the vehicle, or perhaps the steering isn’t optimal. Either way, this would be your only opportunity to call out these indiscretions. If you’re lucky, the dealership may be willing to fix these mechanical problems for free. At the very least, you should attempt to negotiate any inevitable repair fees out of the asking price for the car.
Don’t Forget to: Send Car to a Mechanic
Ultimately, there’s only so much you can do as a customer. Unless you’re an automotive expert, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to identify the small, practically unidentifiable mechanical problems that may be lingering under the hood. The only people who can truly be relied on to identify these issues is a professional mechanic.
Assuming the dealership is okay with the request, you should be sending you targeted vehicle to a private mechanic for a thorough inspection. This unbiased individual will be able to provide you with an expert’s opinion regarding the car’s quality, and they may be able to identify any potential problems that could develop over time. At the very least, this information would be invaluable in your pursuit of a working used ride.
Don’t Forget to: Do Your Research
In order to complete one of the most important aspects of the inspection process, you won’t even have to be looking at the vehicle in-person. Rather, you’ll simply need a computer and some essential information.
For starters, you should be reading everything you can about your targeted nameplate. Reviews will provide you with unbiased insight into the vehicle, while guides can clue you into any specific specs or amenities. While this information may not influence your final decision, the details can still be important as you’re attempting to judge the offerings.
Most importantly, you’ll want to do some research on the specific vehicle. If you have access to the car’s VIN and vehicle history report, you can receive clarity on any warning signs or previous issues. If you’re looking to avoid any mechanical headaches while you own a specific ride, it’s essential that you get background information on your potential target.
Don’t Forget to: Take Your Time
There will always be some urgency when you’re searching for a used car, but it’s important to remember that the customer truly controls the negotiations. Sure, the dealership may be selling the ride, but they ultimately want you to purchase the vehicle. You have the ability to walk away during your pursuit, essentially putting the power into your hands.
Therefore, since you do have a bit of leverage, you shouldn’t be committing to any purchase that you don’t feel good about. Rather, take your time during your pursuit. Explore all of your potential targets, assuring that you’re opting for the best possible financial deal. Shop around and spend that extra bit of time during your pursuit… it will pay off in the end.