How to Buy Used Cars

How to Buy Used Cars

Buying a used car is supposed to be saving you money, but if you are not careful enough, your specific pick may cost you a lot more in the long term. Here are the top 5 most important things that you should watch out for when you are on the search for your next used car. Follow the steps described on this quick guide and you’ll be positive that you made the right choice.

Availability of Service Book


If a service book is available, then it’s a good place to start when evaluating the condition of a used vehicle. Service books contain the record of the service sessions, so you will easily be able to tell if the claimed mileage is true and whether a car has received major repairs after a crash.

Remember, ink fades with time and it is very unlikely that the same kind of pen was used in all service sessions, so you can easily tell a fake service book from a genuine. If a service book isn’t available at all, don’t even bother - no matter how indulging the car may be.

Check the Interior


Usually, and depending on the materials used in the interior of the car, there must be signs of wear on elements such as the steering wheel and the gear knob.

Moreover, you can fiddle with the air-conditioning settings to ensure that everything is working as it is supposed to. Don’t forget to check the lights, radio-CD player, any sensors, etc. Even minor things that aren’t working may be used as price negotiation tools.

Check the ECU


If you have one of those cheap portable Bluetooth OBD readers, this is a good time to use it. Pop it into the port and connect your phone to check if there are any error codes in the car’s computer.

Sometimes, problems aren’t obvious when driving the car under any condition, so this is important to check.

Drive the Car


Nothing can beat the sense that you can get through a test drive. Try the brakes to assess their performance, check for sounds when turning the wheel right or left that may be an indication of problems in the driveshaft, and then check for any signs of momentarily power loss when accelerating that may be caused by a problematic fuel pump.

During the test drive, remember to evaluate the condition of the tires as this is another important factor that may help you cut the price further.

Visit the Mechanic


If you are satisfied with all of the above, then you should visit a mechanic that you know and trust. He/she will check the timing and other belts, the oil levels, inspect the engine for leaks. There is no way to thoroughly check a car if you won’t raise it on the mechanic’s workshop to look under it.

Any damages on the frame that are a clear indication of whether the specific vehicle has been involved in a crash will be obvious to the mechanic.

Follow the steps described in this quick guide, and you’ll be certain that you made the right choice. Remember that buying a used car is a process that needs patience and attention to detail. Once you pay for it, there’s no way back and in most cases, no warranty coverage.

Related articles