What you Need to Consider Before Buying a Used Car

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Everyone gets excited at the prospect of buying a new car. You’ve spent ages saving your money and will soon be rewarded with something that will prove to be very useful. However, there are things to consider when buying a car with some miles on the clock, so that you don’t suffer a disaster.

I talked to several experts and put together these tips for what you need to consider before buying a used car.

  1. A good piece of advice is to avoid large lots and salesmen. These ‘coyotes’ and their large lots are looking to sell cars no matter what state they’re in. They aren’t about to tell you everything that is wrong with the car. They will often lie to you about the car, or how easy it is to fix it if you notice a fault yourself. It’s easy to spot one of these people. They typically approach you as soon as you arrive and ask if you’re looking to buy or sell. If you don’t seem interested in a car they’ll try to sell you a different one. That’s why my recommendation is that you go to an agency or an individual. Find an agency that comes with the endorsement of an organisation like AAA.
  1. Put together a solid budget and stick to it to avoid potential financial trouble in the future. You should take the time to think about the car you want and the price ranges for that kind of car. Don’t forget to consider any adjustments or problems that could arise. All too often people find themselves spending all the money they’ve saved on the car, not considering that they may need to purchase spare parts for the car or have it serviced. These costs can increase exponentially when purchasing a discontinued model. The car you’re interested in may be nice, but it quickly becomes a headache if you need to get it tuned.
  1. It takes more than one day to buy a used car. You should never rush, even if you think you’ve found the car you’ve always dreamed of owning. Avoid making a rash decision and putting down a deposit. Always make a second appointment, even if the documents for the vehicle are all in order. Think about it again when you’ve got a cool head at home, and check the legal status of the vehicle. You can be presented with a sheet for a car that doesn’t include a report of theft, but these reports can take up to 24 hours to appear in the sheets. You should also check online to make sure the car doesn’t present a risk of traffic fines, along with any other checks and tenure payments.
  1. When looking at a car, you need to assess the body. If you like how the car looks from the outside, then take a look at the rest of the car. One easy way to tell if a car has been mistreated is to check the quality of the paint job and see if it’s been damaged. Check to see if there is a different tonality anywhere in the vehicle, areas with cracked paint, and rough finishes that show the car was repaired; and poorly at that.
  1. People are under the false impression that if you pass a magnet through the plate, it can detect where someone has used paste to repair the car. The idea is that the magnet sticks to the metal, but won’t stick to a paste filling. This idea is completely false, as the magnet still sticks to metal even if paste has been used. The only place a magnet wouldn’t stick is an area of major damage, and these are obvious from their appearance.
  1. Check to make sure that the car isn’t crossed. Look at the spaces between the sides of the dashboard. If these are different then the car has a repaired coup, which was straightened out. Don’t forget to check under the fenders and ensure there’s nothing wrong with the frame, and where the suspension and shock absorbers are attached.
  1. If the vehicle is older than 10 years old you need to consider corrosion damage. A corroded car is a car where the trunk, door frames, and glass have begun to crack. The damage allows water to leak into the car. Look at the bottom of door brackets and posts, under a carpet in the trunk, and along the areas surrounding the engine drain. Make sure there are no oxidation points in these places. If the drain is plugged, then liquid will naturally seep into the cabin at the point closest to the pedals. Evidence of this problem includes a hardened carpet or a difference in the tone of the carpet.
  1. Never buy a used car without giving it a mechanical check. There are some problems that you can look for yourself, even without being a car expert. When you turn on your car, it sends water vapor through the exhaust normally, but it’s a bad sign if there are still exhaust fumes after the car has heated up. If white smoke is coming out of the exhaust after the car has heated up, then you could need to change the gaskets and seals, or replace the engine rings. If you see black smoke it means that the car isn’t burning fuel properly because it hasn’t been tuned, or the sensors and nozzles are plugged. Blue smoke is the worst kind of smoke to see, and is a sign that the engine needs to be lowered.
  1. Take a look under the vehicle. If you can see any fluid, such as water, antifreeze, or oil, dripping then it means the car needs an overhaul. It can also be a sign of damaged hoses or gaskets, or a leaky gasket that needs to be taken care of immediately.
  1. When you change the gears in your car, the acceleration should settle. If it doesn’t then you could need to have it tuned or change the sensors; a problem only a trained mechanic can diagnose for certain. If you drive an automatic car, you should start it up, let it warm up, and then turn on the fans. That way the gearbox also warms up and you can make sure it isn’t thrashing or kicking as it moves between speeds.

Keep the above tips for buying a used car in mind and you’ll be sure to have a good experience and get your hands on a fantastic used car.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.