Car Care:    Tips , Tricks and Maintenance

Buying A Used Car


Buying A Used Car

New cars tend to lose roughly forty percent of their value within three years after purchase, so why not buy a used car and let someone else bear that depreciation? Another benefit of buying a used vehicle is the lower cost up front. Purchasing a used vehicle will also save money on financing costs and insurance premiums.

There are a few drawbacks to purchasing a used automobile that you'll want to bear in mind.
You will likely be required to do at the least some basic maintenance on your vehicle shortly after the purchase. Things like flushing the radiator and replacing the coolant, checking and possibly replacing the dreaded "lubed for life" suspension and steering joints found on many cars, serpentine drive belt replacement, replacing tires, brake calipers, brake pads or shoes and possibly brake rotors, replacing the fluid in your transmission if required and a myriad of other things. In most cases your used car warrantee won't cover any of these "normal wear" items.

These are all things that a new car buyer will not have to spend his time or money on. Another point would be that the trade in value of a 7 year old vehicle that you bought used when it was only 3 years old will be worth virtually nothing when it's time to replace it. In most cases you'll only pay the sales tax on the difference between your trade in and the next car you buy so the higher the trade-in the better.

Some things to do and consider when purchasing a used vehicle are:

First you'll need to decide on a maximum price you are willing to pay. Leave a portion of your money in the bank for normal maintenance and repairs.

Decide what you want in a vehicle such as the ability to tow a boat or to transport kids to school etc.

Check out the internet and see what vehicles are in your price range and will suit your needs.

Once you find your perfect vehicle, you'll want to determine it's history. Was it in a flood, a serious accident, a rental or a taxi? Web sites such as CarFax or AutoCheck can assist with that. Study the vehicle in the bright daylight - not at night or in the rain.

Always have a mechanic check out the car before you buy it. He can give you a rough estimate of upcoming repairs as well as visible body damage repairs. This will typically take a couple of hours to perform.

The car will be professionally detailed and looking it's best, but has it been properly maintained - you'll likely never know, however a diligent owner will likely keep good records of the service he's performed and make a folder available to you. A dealer will not likely make that info available.

Record the vehicle information number (VIN), it's on the dashboard on driver's side. You'll need to find the vehicle's claims history and if a lien exists against the car. Also be sure the VIN matches the one on the vehicle registration form.

Test drive the car with the radio off. Drive on rough back roads as well as on the highway - listen for unusual sounds and feel for strange transmission shifts and steering irregularities. Feel free to allow the car to sit while turned off and then take it for another short drive feeling if the car runs differently after a "heat soak" than it did on your first drive. Check for intense wear of the upholstery, carpets, brake and gas pedals on a car with supposed low mileage.

Check for even tire wear and make certain all the tires are same brand and type.

Check the vehicle's body panels for signs of rust or corrosion; pay special attention to the bottom half of the car, the wheel wells, and anywhere where you suspect an accident may have been repaired.