Buying Used Car: Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle

As young adults, one of the biggest and most important purchases you will make is buying a used car. You may need some assistance from a parent or friend when in the market for a new vehicle. With some simple instructions, it will be much easier.

Buying Used Car: Beware of Seller’s Intentions

For starters, understand that no one has a crystal ball and can tell you how long a used car will last. The previous owner may tell you that the car is perfect in every way. Remember that the seller is attempting to sell the vehicle. There are many reasons why people sell a vehicle; they may want to upgrade or just need the money. The hope is they are not selling a car that has a problem, which may potentially be too costly to repair.

Beginner’s Guide to Buying Used Car: Vehicle Inspection Before Purchasing

After setting a budget and finding that one special vehicle, it is time to look it over. You may even want a professional at a local repair facility to do a car inspection. Most repair facilities will charge a small fee for this service. One advantage in doing this, is the repair facility can remove the tires and check the brakes, suspension, exhaust, oil leaks and general condition of the underside of the vehicle. This is a difficult task in someone’s driveway. There are, however, many things you can inspect which will help you decide whether going to a repair shop is worth a better look.

Beginners Need to Exercise Patience Before Buying Used Car
Do not settle for the first vehicle you look at. If you have a specific car in mind, look at other similar models to compare prices and condition. This is the time to exercise some patience. You will be better off not jumping into the first vehicle you look at.

Cleanliness and Condition of Used Car Needs to Be Considered Before Buying Vehicle

Stay away from a dirty vehicle. When I say this, I mean look at the cleanliness of the car. Is there mud caked on it everywhere? Does the interior look like someone lived in the car? Remember that dirt hides a lot of problems. It also tells you how the owner takes care of the car. If they don’t keep in good condition, are they changing the fluids at the recommended intervals? Keep this in mind and you will save some time. – Open the hood and take a look at the general condition of the engine compartment. Look for missing items. Does everything look complete under the hood? This may be an indication that the vehicle was in an accident in the past.

Take a look at the radiator. Does it look dry and clean?

Look over the engine, again is it dry? Are there signs of fluid leaking? Some oil leaks a relatively inexpensive to repair but others are very costly. For example, a rear main seal is a small inexpensive part, but requires that the engine or transmission be removed to repair.

Look over the hoses and belt(s). Do they look like the have been replaced recently? If so, that is a sign that the owner takes care of maintaining the vehicle.

Another important thing is to check all the fluids. Check and smell the transmission fluid. Does the fluid have a burnt smell? If you don’t know, get educated on the difference between normal and burnt transmission fluid. Most transmissions replacements range in price from $1,200 to 2,500 dollars. – Look under the vehicle. This may be more difficult on some models. Is it rusty? Is it damp from fluids leaking? This is where making arrangements with the owner will pay off.

Take the car to a repair facility — preferably one you trust to have them inspect the underside of the vehicle. The inspection should include looking over the front and rear suspension, exhaust, oil leaks, fuel leaks and an overall assessment of the condition.

Have a writing estimate of repairs needed. This may become a bargaining tool with the owner. You do not want to pay top dollar for a vehicle only to spend thousands of dollars on repairs. This isn’t something you want as a beginner or experienced individual buying a used car.

Evaluating Condition of Used Car Interior Before Buying

Now it is time to evaluate the condition of the body and interior.

Is the windshield cracked? Cracked windshields only get worse with time. Even a small crack will become larger.

How is the condition of the body panels? All cars may have some small dents and dings. It is the larger dents and dings that can be a problem.

Do the doors open and shut without more than normal resistance?

Are the headlamp and tail lamp assemblies free of cracks?

Is all the trim in place?

Looking at the interior, are all of the controls in place and functional?

Do the wipers and washers work?

Do the power window and seat functions work?

Do the heat and air conditioning work? Air conditioning in a vehicle is not inexpensive to repair.

Also take a look in the trunk. Pay attention if it is wet on the floor. This is an indication of a bad trunk compartment seal. It is not an expensive repair, but is there rot on the floor of the trunk? Also check for the same wet condition on the carpet in the interior. This may be a sign of a severe problem.

All of these items add up and can be expensive to repair or replace.

Other Things to Consider for Beginner Buying New Car
How do the tires look? Are they worn on the edges? Are steel belts exposes? Is there a sufficient amount of tread reaming? Is there any dry rot visible? Tires are generally between $300.00 and $500.00 to replace on most vehicles. A beginner needs to strongly consider this before purchasing a used car.

Remember to be patient take your time selecting the used vehicle you purchase. It is a big investment and it is easy to get stuck with a car that needs more repairs than it is worth.