How to Identify and Avoid Damage in a Used Car
Used car buying certainly has its risks. You can trust the vehicles you’d be considering from a reliable, certified dealership. However, there may be instances where you’ll have to buy from a private seller. In these scenarios, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re not purchasing a lemon… a car that may look good on the outside but actually has several major, underlying issues.
Luckily, there are several protections now in case you do happen to purchase a lemon. As FindLaw.com notes, many states will consider a car a lemon if it has “a “substantial defect”, covered by warranty, that occurs within a certain time after purchase, and continue to have the defect after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts.”
Of course, it’s better off to avoid these particular vehicles in the first place. If you’ve been shopping for used cars in Lexington, Kentucky don’t fall into a trap and get stuck with a dud. Continue reading to learn how you can determine whether a used car is a lemon…
Do Some Research
Whenever you’re purchasing a used car, even if it’s from a reliable dealership, you should be investigating the history of that particular vehicle. You can easily dig up a history report from a number of websites, and that will clue you in as to whether or not that specific car has seen considerable noteworthy damage. Consumer Reports also suggests checking on a car’s reliability record, which will help give you a better idea of whether a particular model is dependable.
Of course, you may also luck out with a warranty. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) forces all used call sellers to attach a “Buyer’s Guide” sticker to their vehicle. This will inform the driver as to whether the car is sold “as is” or if there’s actually a warranty attached to the ride. An “as is” car is literally sold as is, meaning the dealer isn’t providing any protections if the vehicle ultimately decides to stop working.
Look Around the Car
We would hope that you wouldn’t simply spot a car and make the purchase on a spot. You’ll want to investigate every little nook and cranny in that targeted vehicle.
While dents and little scrapes may be unsightly, they don’t do much to impact how the vehicle operates. You’re looking for any indications of prior body damage, which may also hint at several underlying mechanical problems. The engineers of these cars are meticulous about the styling of their products, so you’re not going to find any inconsistent paints or unfitting panels. You’re going to want to check every little corner of that exterior, especially corners. These tiny areas were certainly reveal any new paint jobs or body work. If you spot these discrepancies, you may be eying a vehicle that has seen some drastic issues.
Following your inspection of the exterior, you’re going to want to also give a look at the interior. Similar to the exterior, minor blemishes can generally be disregarded. Of course, you may also be seeing more significant damage. If any of the upholstery seems to be melted or frayed, the car has likely been involved in a frontal impact accident. Consumer Reports also cleverly notes to take a look at the condition of the pedals, steering wheel, and driver’s seat. If these aspects show considerable wear, you might be investigating a vehicle that has compiled significantly more miles than advertised.
Of course, flood damage is one of the most common issues on the used car market, as these types of issues can easily be covered up with some interior work. However, there is probably some irreparable problems under the hood, and these issues won’t be as evident following your initial inspection.
Investigate the Mechanics
Of course, you’re going to also want to check out what’s going on underneath the car’s hood. Even if the vehicle is up there on years, you still shouldn’t see much rust. The vehicle’s engine should still look relatively untouched, and all accompanying belts and hoses should be unworn.
Assure that all of the fluids look as they should, and you’ll want to make sure that none of the mechanics are leaking any fluid. The dipstick should indicate that the levels are between the “full” and “add” marks, and the color should be a deep brown (but certainly not black or gritty). Meanwhile, the transmission fluid should be a red or light brown.
Drive The Car
This is rather obvious, isn’t it? Believe it or not, there are several car owners who fail to ever drive their used vehicle prior to making the purchase. You may immediately identify some underlying problem from stepping on the gas or maneuvering the steering wheel, things that can’t be seen from a non-operating vehicle.
You’ll even able to get a bearing on the tires’ condition. Sure, you’ll get some clues from the tread and condition of the rubber. However, you’ll truly get an idea of what the tires are capable of if you give the vehicle a quick ride.
Visit a Mechanic
Of course, it’s the best idea to take this targeted vehicle to a trusted mechanic. While you can identify several issues by giving a complete inspection of the vehicle, you still won’t be able to determine what’s ultimately going on behind the scenes.
A professional is capable of identifying these potential issues. If you’re thinking about purchasing a used car, spend the extra money and take the car to a mechanic. Despite the investment, it’ll be worth your time in the long run.
All of these factors are essential when shopping for a used vehicle, even if you have complete trust in the seller. It’s most important to give the vehicle a test drive, as this will indicate any issues with the engine or mechanics. It’s also essential to visit a mechanic, who will truly be able to diagnose whether there are any hidden problems. Follow these steps, and you shouldn’t have any problems with your “new” used car.