New vehicle prices continue to rise, and the quick depreciation rate of new cars has many consumers looking to purchase used vehicles. Investing in a used car can be a sensible option, if you do your research and learn how to spot potential problems you can save yourself from expensive repairs down the road. Here are five things you should look for when shopping for your next vehicle to help you avoid purchasing a lemon.
When looking at used cars, the tires can tell you a lot about the vehicle. To ensure you receive the best deals on a used car, it is important to check everything, starting with the tires. Check the tread wear on each tire. The wear should be even across the width of the tread. If the tread is worn unevenly along the circumference of the tire, it could indicate a problem with the steering, brakes, or suspension, according to the experts at Kelley Blue Book.
Since you’ll be spending the most time in the inside of the car, it is essential to check the interior for damage. Sniff the interior when you first open the door. If it smells moldy, musty, or like mildew, it could indicate a water leak. Check the upholstery for rips and excessive wear. Try all the seat adjustments to make sure they work correctly. Check the instruments and controls as well as the sound system. Check for signs of rust in the spare-tire well.
Examine the body of the car. Look for scratches, dents, and rust. Look at the lines of the doors and fenders, if any of the panels look misaligned or if there are significant gaps, it could indicate a shoddy repair job. Check the wheel wells, the door bottoms, and the rocker panels beneath the doors for rust. Rust anywhere on the vehicle could be a strong indication that there will be trouble later on, according to the experts at Allstate. Be sure to examine the glass for cracks or chips, and confirm the lights are working.
Look under the hood and examine all the engine related components. Be wary if there is oil splattered about or on the pavement under the engine compartment and check the battery for corrosion. Squeeze the various rubber hoses for firmness. They should be supple and not dry or cracked. Check the levels and color of all the fluids and look for leaks. Examine the battery and check the electrolyte levels. A low level could indicate that the battery is working too hard.
Under the Vehicle
Check under the vehicle to see if there are old puddles of gasoline, coolant, oil, or transmission fluid. Check the tailpipe for residue. If it is greasy and black, it means burnt oil. If you can get under the vehicle, check for oil drips, and green or red fluid. If you see this, it’s not a good sign.
When you are looking to purchase a used car, doing a simple inspection can save you the headache of costly repairs down the road. If you can, take the vehicle to an independent mechanic and have them do a thorough inspection of the car. Don’t risk purchasing an lemon, do a little upfront inspection work before signing on the dotted line.