Buying a used car can be a challenging task. You should know what to look for, what to inspect and people that you can consult for advice. There is every chance of being ripped off if you are a layman and all that you know about cars is to switch on the ignition.
Here is a step by step guide for you to follow if you are buying a used car.
Set a budget
You have first to set a budget which you can afford and then stick to it strictly. The amount you put down is just the start, and there will be many other expenses later – fuel, maintenance, insurance and interest on finance. It is advisable to make provision for all these expenses at the beginning only. You can research car guide websites for make and model of cars available at that price.
Contact the seller
Before contacting the seller, jot down all the questions that you want to ask so that you do not forget anything. Some of the leading questions should be how long they have owned the car, reasons for selling it, has it ever been damaged and will it pass a roadworthy inspection. Do not forget to ask if there is a detailed history of the car and whether it is with the car. Fix a date for inspection. If the owner is not a dealer and is a private person, ask for inspection at home. If the owner is reluctant to do so, he/she is probably hiding something.
Check the car’s history
Regardless of how genuine or honest the seller might seem, it is advisable to check the car’s history. All that you need is the Vehicle Inspection Number (VIN) to check against the database in the State that it is registered. You will know whether the vehicle is encumbered with an outstanding loan, or whether there is an insurance write-off or even if the car is not stolen. Some States charge a small fee while in others it is free.
Checking the car
Even if you are not an expert, give the car a good look-over. Seeing it in the flesh is critical before making a purchase. Once you are satisfied, have an independent car mechanic or a certified garage conduct a more detailed evaluation. Always inspect a car during daylight and never in the dark or inclement weather as you will miss out rust, dent marks and other defects. Inspect underneath the body and bonnet for rust and welding signs which prove that the car has been repaired after a crash. Start the car when it is cold. It will reveal problems such as poor start and engine wear if there is lots of smoke.
Take a test drive
Before setting off, turn the steering from one lock to another to check for play. The transmission should shift up and down through the gears smoothly. Listen for any irregular noises from the engine. Test the handbrake on a steep hill. Involve a good mechanic from a certified service station like Western Auto Services to get professional and expert feedback about the performance of the car.
Finally, before making payment, ensure that the paperwork is in order.