Buying a car for half the price or a fraction of the price is a deal that is too hard to pass up, especially in these trying financial times in which we live today. But it can prove disastrous if your previously owned vehicle suddenly stops working on you or will be too expensive to repair. Sometimes even costing you more than you paid for the car in the first place.
I have bought several used cars myself and I know just how frustrating it can be to end up with a lemon and spend all your money on repairs, but this doesn't have to be the case. As a matter of fact there are a lot of reliable, dependable used cars. The trick is finding one. Well here are a few tips on selecting a good car.
When selecting a previously owned vehicle, think about the size of your family and the activities the car will be used for, like driving to work, taking your children to school and so forth. Do not limit yourself to a specific make and model, instead look for a car that has been maintained well and is in good shape. Try to find a car that is easy to service. Just a side note: if a car is over ten years old, parts for it may be difficult to obtain.
If you are on a limited budget, try to avoid luxury or imported speciality cars because the parts and service will no doubt be more expensive. Even though they may be reliable, they can also be very expensive to own. Not always, but generally it is good to avoid cars that have extremely high mileage. In most cases, it is less expensive to buy a car in good shape than it is to buy a car in bad shape and fix it up.
Check the car thoroughly before you buy it. Try not to go looking for a car in the night or when it raining. Walk around the car. Inspect the interior and exterior. Have they been maintained? Did the previous owner take pride in their vehicle? If it has been neglected you might want to continue looking.
Test-drive the car. Accelerate the car up to highway speed on a test-drive. Make sure that you stop and go on hilly roads as well as level streets.
Engine: Does the engine start well? Is the exhaust free of lots of smoke? Does the engine run well? Does it idle smoothly? Is the engine free of noises? Does the engine have power for good acceleration? If no. The engine may need tune-up work or more serious repairs, which may indicate a worn engine. Be cautious if the seller says that it just needs a tune-up because this should have been a part of the regular maintenance of the car.
Transmission: Does the automatic transmission slip or not engage when put into gear? Does it fail to shift smoothly? Any grinding noises in the gears? If yes. The transmission may need repair.
Brakes and suspension: Does the car pull to one side when you drive or brake? Does the car vibrate at certain speeds or when you brake? Are there noises when you brake or turn or drive over bumps? If yes. The car may need brake or suspension work.
Look underneath the car and wear clothes that will allow you to do so.
Check the body for rust. Avoid cars that have it. When the body is rusting, it is generally too expensive to repair them completely. Fender rust can be cosmetic but usually is a sign that structural areas also have rust. Look underneath the car for rust. Be leery of new paint jobs.
Look for accident damage. Under the hood and in the trunk. Do the doors, hood and trunk fit? Does the car look spray painted where it doesn't belong, like doorjams? Any leaks in the trunk or carpeted areas? Leaks can cause rust.