Whether you’re looking to splash the car on a high-end Mercedes Benz or something a little more modest to get you from A to B, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth with your new purchase. However, if you’ve ever been through the experience of buying a car on the secondhand market, you will know just how much of a minefield it can be.
For starters, there are plenty of dodgy dealers out there who will sell you a dud car and fool you into paying over the odds. Whether that means rolling back the mileage on the clock to make an old banger appear to be more youthful than it actually is, or hiding the fact that the car has been salvaged, you certainly have to be on your toes.
In addition to this, if you don’t know anything about cars, it’s pretty hard to have any idea what you’re looking for when you go to view the vehicle in question. This makes buying a used car something of a game of Russian roulette for the buyer, and we all know that game isn’t much fun for the players!
With that said, there are plenty of things you can do in preparation for buying a used car, which is why we have produced this ultimate checklist for you to follow the next time you’re looking for a new ride. Let’s get into it.
Do your research on the model
First things first, it’s important to take the time to thoroughly research the car that you’re interested in buying. It’s easy to get carried away with the aesthetics of a car without giving too much thought to the practicality and comfort of the vehicle you’re going to be driving.
Furthermore, you should find out information on the key aspects of the car, such as its fuel efficiency, features, options, the different specs of each model, and the car’s safety rating. Of course, each person is different, and preferences vary, but just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in for before making your final decision.
Run a VIN check
Conducting a VIN search on the car you wish to purchase is arguably the most important part of the whole buying process. For those of you that aren’t aware, the VIN (vehicle identification number) is the unique code given to each vehicle after it has been manufactured. In many ways, it acts as the car’s social security number.
When you run a search on the VIN, you can find out all sorts of important information that will prove very useful when deciding whether or not to close the deal on a car. And here’s the best part; you can get a VIN search for free at VehicleHistory.com.
All you need to do is contact the seller and ask for the VIN, and you will have access to a comprehensive compilation of the car’s history, such as:
- Recalls and Complaints
- Auctions and incidents
- Vehicle specifications
- Classified records
Once you have done the VIN check, you can now spend some time searching the internet for similar models in order to compare prices. This is a great way of figuring out whether or not the seller is offering a fair price for the car or if they are the ones trying to take you for a ride!
What to take with you when viewing the car
Now that you have found the car you want, it’s time to go and inspect it. But first, make sure you gather all the things that you’re going to need when you get there. Here’s a quick checklist of items to take with you:
- Your printed VIN report
- A notebook and a pen for recording important information
- Paper towels to check the engine oil
- A flashlight for checking under the car
- A Bluetooth device to connect to the electronics to make sure they work
Car inspection checklist
It’s finally time to meet the car in person. However, it’s important not to fall in love at first sight. You need to keep your cool and insect the car as objectively as possible. After all, buying a car is a significant investment, so you need to carry out the necessary due diligence before handing over your hard-earned cash. Once again, here is an inspection checklist to take with you:
- Check the engine oil (oil should be light brown)
- Do the body panel colors match?
- Are the doors and fenders properly aligned?
- Does the mileage match the VIN report?
- Windehsil cracks
- Do the interior electronics work?
- Rust and paint damage
- Check for frame issues. Is the car level?
- Check the engine for leaks, corrosion, and cracked hoses
- Tire condition
- Upholstery condition
Take it for a test drive
Last but not least, take that baby out for a spin! There’s no better way to get a feel for a car than to take it out on the road and see how it handles. Remember, if all things go well, you’re probably going to be driving this car for the next few years, so make sure it’s comfortable and drives well.
While you’re out on the test drive, you need to put the car through its paces. This means hitting the brakes hard, reversing, and putting your foot down to test out the acceleration. This doesn’t mean you should become a rally driver, but don’t be afraid to actually drive the thing (just make sure you warn the driver first).
For many people, buying a used car is a daunting experience. As we touched upon earlier, plenty of things can go wrong, and to make matters worse, there are a few shady characters out there who are looking to pull the wool over your eyes. However, if you take the time to prepare and conduct the proper research, you can go into the process equipped with all the knowledge you need to make the process an enjoyable one.