What to Look For When Buying a Used Car: 6 Tips to Take With You When Car Shopping

2019-09-09 By Legend Auto Sales Blog

Car shopping can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially when getting a used car, but it doesn’t have to be!

Wondering what to look for when buying a used car? We have 6 tips to take with you when car shopping for your next used vehicle!

What to Look For When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can be a great way to upgrade your vehicle without having the hefty price tag of a new car. There are some things that you can do to make sure you make the best choice in choosing the right car for you. 

1. Inspect the Interior and Exterior Thoroughly

When checking the exterior of the vehicle, look for rust, dents, scratches and also bigger issues such as panels not lining up evenly. Uneven panels may be a sign that the vehicle was in an accident and was repaired poorly.

Also, open all the doors, hood and trunk to ensure that they open and close easily and that the paint matches the rest of the body of the car. If you find paint over-spray inside the doors, trunk or hood, this is another sign that the vehicle was in an accident. 

Next, look at the engine by checking the hoses and belts for cracking and any dark stains around the engine block. Check the brake and power steering fluid levels, and the color on the transmission fluid which should be pink or red. Check the oil level and inside the cap; any foam residue might indicate leaking or worse a blown gasket. 

When inspecting the interior, check the seats for wear and tear on the upholstery and sit in all the seats. If the car smells musty, it may be a sign that there is a leak or may have had water damage from being flooded. 

Test all the systems like windshield wipers, turn signals, radio, automatic locks and windows, and adjust the seats. Also, check that the odometer matches what the seller has on file. 

2. Test Drive

Next, you will be ready to take a test drive. Before turning the engine over, turn the key to the accessory position and make sure that all the warning lights on the dashboard light up. If they don’t, this may be an indication that there is an electrical problem and you will want to have that inspected. 

Once you start the car, pay attention to any tapping or clicking you may hear while the motor is running, or if it takes a while to start up, makes weird noises or shakes, these are all warning signs that there is an issue. 

Test drive the vehicle for about thirty minutes and try and take it on different roads and speeds to ensure that the transmission shifts well and that there aren’t any weird noises coming from the engine or brakes. 

Make sure that the car stays straight and doesn’t pull to one side if it does it may need an alignment before leaving the dealership. 

3. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Before buying a used car, it’s a good idea to have an independent mechanic, not one from the dealership, do an inspection. This is a great way to get an unbiased opinion about the condition of the car before committing to it. 

The inspection may uncover some issues that are fixable and you can negotiate the price of the repairs into the sales price, or you may discover that the car is not worth the investment if there are major repairs needed. 

4. Research What a Fair Purchase Price Should Be

Once you are ready to begin negotiating a price you should make sure you are being charged a fair price according to other prices of the same make and model of the vehicle. 

Take into consideration the condition and mileage the vehicle is in when you are doing your review and you should be able to get a good idea of whether you are getting a good deal or not. 

5. Get The Vehicle History Report

You can request the history of the vehicle, such as its service history or any previous accidents by ordering it online using the VIN or the license plate number. 

Sometimes the dealership will also provide the vehicle history, so be sure to ask ahead of time, this can save you having to pay the report fee. 

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

Anytime you are negotiating a deal a good strategy is to walk away if you aren’t getting the deal you want. If the seller has rebuked your price and is pushing back your best move is to walk away. Not only does this show that you are willing to lose risk losing the car if the price isn’t right, but it also gives the salesman time to discuss it with his manager and reconsider the figure. 

If you have done your homework and know that the price you are asking for is a fair value for the vehicle then it’s a good move to leave the sales office and wait to see if they call you with a better offer or move on to a different opportunity. 

Do not feel rushed into making the purchase and don’t give the dealership the upper hand by telling them you have to have the vehicle today. 

Are You Ready to Visit the Dealership?

Now that you know what to look for when buying a used car, are you ready to go to the dealership and buy a used car that meets your needs and expectations?

Please visit our website and contact us with any questions!

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