Cars are key to our everyday lives. We probably all take them for granted. They are so much more than just fibre glass and fuel. We spend a lot of time in our cars each day and therefore it’s important to ensure you’ve got the right car for you. Unfortunately, as much as we’d all love to speed through the morning traffic in a Bugatti Veyron, most new cars are very expensive (particularly Bugattis!) and so for the large majority of us, it’s more feasible to look for quality second hand cars for sale. There’s nothing wrong with buying a second hand car, and if anything, there’s an art and great satisfaction in finding a used vehicle at a great price. Whether you’re looking to buy from a dealership or enjoy flicking through private used car ads, there are certain considerations you must give to each and every vehicle. It’s so easy to get caught up in sales chatter and be sold on the charm of how a vehicle looks; leaving you vulnerable to any potential safety issues that may be hidden away. Therefore let’s take a look at 5 aspects you must consider when looking at second hand cars:
1) The Bodywork
One of the first things to remember is to look at a car in good light. This is because one of the first things you need to look at is the paint. In good light, any inconsistencies in the paint finish will immediately be noticeable and you can allow for further inspection. One of the main things you’re looking for in terms of the exterior is any signs of damage, rust or corrosion. If you notice any rust on the exterior, inspect it further by pressing against the area with your thumb and forefinger. If you feel any significant flexibility or cracking sounds, this may indicate there are deeper rust problems. Always open all doors and the trunk of the car to ensure they open smoothly.
When looking for any signs of crash repairs take a step back and look at the car from each corner. You’ll soon be able to spot anything unusual in the paint finishing. A great tip in seeing whether any body filler is in place is to use a small magnet and run it along anywhere you deem suspicious. The magnet will not stick to anywhere which has been enhanced using the plastic body filler.
2) The Interior
The first thing is to look at the odometer. Ensure that the miles on the odometer match the age of the car. If anything looks suspicious, the odometer may have been altered. Compare the wear and tear on the break pedals, seating and gearstick against the distance on the odometer. Also it’s easy to see low mileage as a positive factor but remember this can sometimes indicate that the car has been left unused for a long time and this in itself may have a negative effect on the car. Ask the owner for what purpose the car has been used to get a clearer idea of how frequently it has been used. Always test electrics inside the car, this includes all of the electric windows, stereo systems, air conditioning, hood release, convertible roofs and anything else controlled by electrics. Look carefully at the dashboards and seat belts, any significant damage may indicate there has been a crash at some point.
3) The Engine
A clean engine is generally a good sign, anything with significant dirt and grime may show that the engine has been neglected and may not have been recently serviced. Always test the engine and check the colour of the oil release by removing the dipstick. If the oil is very dark, this may show that the car has not been frequently or recently serviced. Inspect underneath the engines oil cap for a thick, white substance as this can show signs that the head gasket may be damaged. Take a look at the batteries and ensure they are rust free and ensure that all fluid levels are at a suitable level when the engine is cool.
4) The Road Test
When testing new or cheap cars for sale you must always insist in taking the car for at least one test drive before signing anything. This will give you the best indication of what state the vehicle is actually in. Ensure you set aside enough time and clear it with the owner to take it on a drive that tests the car across multiple terrains and at differing speeds. Be sure to listen out for any strange sounds coming from the engine and rear of the car and above all else, make sure you feel comfortable handling the size of the car.
5) The Paperwork
If visiting a private seller, check that the registration paperwork lists the same address as the seller’s house. Many provinces in Canada have services that allow you to check the history of your vehicle for accidents and claims. If you are buying an expensive car – or any car for that matter – it might be best to check this before signing a cheque. Double check the odometer against any information listed within repair documentation. If you have any suspicions at all, call the previous owner or garage as listed last in the car’s log book. If you are in any doubt, there are many companies who are willing to undertake a private inspection, ask the owner if it is possible for this to take place. It’s better to be safe than sorry especially if you are making a major purchase.