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Used cars can be a more economical way to replace a vehicle – buyers can get a vehicle that’s almost as good as new, without having to deal with the depreciation that’s associated with buying new. For those who decide to go with purchasing a used car, there are many more things to consider.
Buying a used car is like going to a dentist who wants to knock out your old teeth and sell you new ones. Everybody involved in the process is assuredly biased, possibly psychotic, and actively wants to do you bodily harm. To reduce the risk of purchasing a trouble-prone vehicle, identify models with a good reliability record before you begin shopping
1. Do Your Research
Think about your needs, your budget and your driving habits. Study about different car models, prices and its technical specifications. Finally settle on a model which suits your lifestyle and image. It will help you to narrow your choice down, when you test drive a few different cars of the same model. You can easily compare their conditions and pick the correct one without any doubt. The age of the car is very important. Shop for newer used cars that still have manufacture’s warranty. Most late-model vehicles have at least 3-year/30,000 KMs warranties, while newer used vehicles may have 10-year/1,00,000 KMs warranties. Take advantage of the maintenance included with these vehicles. Also, be sure to verify that the warranty is fully transferable
2. Check the cars form
Make sure that the car is on level ground before checking it out. This is to ensure that you will be able to clearly check the tires and to see if there is anything sagging on the car.
Look at the painting and take note of any rust, scratches and dents, The car should be clean so the paint condition is visible. Look at the sides of the car from end-on for waviness; that indicates paint work. Run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels; roughness indicates residue left from masking tape.
Check the trunks condition, It should not show any sign of rust, or water entry due to cracks or holes. Wear inside of the trunk indicates usage of the car.
Tires – The tires should be worn evenly and they should match. Look at the surface of the tire for feathering (bad alignment). Bad alignment can be caused by worn steering/suspension components, the pothole down the street or frame damage.
Never buy a frame damaged vehicle, Check the saddle (connects the front fenders and holds the top of the radiator). It may be welded or bolted in. Inspect the bolt heads at the top of the fenders inside the hood; scratch marks indicates that the fenders have been replaced or realigned (after a crash).
Check the cars bottom to inspect exhaust system and any signs of rust – look for any black spots on the exhaust system because this can indicate leaking. This is also a good time to inspect for frame or unibody damage. Check the exhaust with your finger. Greasy grime means important problem. Turn the car on. White vapor (not in a cold climate) is a bad sign too.
3 Under the hood: Engine related components
It’s best to make these checks with the engine cool. Look first at the general condition of the engine bay. Dirt and dust are normal, but be wary if you see oil splattered about or on the pavement under the engine compartment. Also watch for a battery covered with corrosion, or wires and hoses hanging loose.
Hoses and belts. Squeeze the various rubber hoses running to the radiator, air conditioner, and other parts. The rubber should be firm and supple, not rock-hard, cracked, or mushy. Feel the drive belts to determine whether they are frayed.
Fluids. The owner’s manual will point out where to look to check all fluid levels. Engine oil should be dark brown or black, but not gritty. If the oil is honey-colored, it was just changed. If the dipstick has water droplets on it or gray or foamy oil, it could indicate a cracked engine block or blown head gasket, two serious problems. Transmission fluid should be pinkish, not brown, and smell like oil, with no “burnt” odor. The dipstick shouldn’t leave visible metal particles on the rag, another sign of a serious problem.
Check the automatic-transmission fluid with the engine warmed up and running. On some, the dipstick has two sets of marks for checking when the engine is either cold or warm. Power-steering and brake-fluid levels should be within the safe zone.
Radiator. Look into the plastic reservoir that’s connected by a rubber hose to the radiator. The coolant should be greenish or orange, not a milky or rusty color. Greenish stains on the outside of the radiator are a sign of pinhole leaks.
Battery. Some “maintenance free” batteries have a built-in charge indicator. A green indicator usually means the battery is in good shape; yellow or black usually means it is dying or dead. These indicators reveal the condition of just one cell and may not give an accurate reading on the health of the whole battery. If the battery has filler caps, wipe off the top with a rag, then carefully pry off or unscrew the caps to look at the liquid electrolyte level. A low level may mean that the battery has been working too hard. A mechanic can check out the charging system and do a “load test” on the battery.
4.Checking Inside the car
It’s the inside of a car that may matter most since that’s where you’ll be spending the most time.
Odor. When you first open the car door, sniff the interior. A musty, moldy, or mildewy smell could indicate water leaks. Remove the floor mats and check for wet spots on the carpet. An acrid smell may indicate that the car was used by a smoker. Check the lighter and ashtray for evidence. Some odors, such as mold or smoke, can be very hard to get rid of. If you don’t like what you smell, find another car.
Seats. Try out all the seats even though you may not plan to sit in the rear. Upholstery shouldn’t be ripped or badly worn, particularly in a car with low mileage. Try all the seat adjustments to make sure they work properly and that you can find a good driving position.
Pedals. The rubber on the brake, clutch, and gas pedals gives an indication of use. A car with low miles shouldn’t show much wear. Pedal rubber that’s worn through in spots—or brand-new—indicates that the car has been driven a lot.
Instruments and controls. Turn the ignition switch, but without starting the engine. All the warning lights—including the “Check engine” light—should illuminate for a few seconds and go off when you start the engine. Note if the engine is hard to start when cold and if it idles smoothly. Then try out every switch, button, and lever.
With the engine running, turn on the heater full blast to see how hot it gets, and how quickly. Switch on the air conditioning and make sure it quickly blows cold.
Sound system. Check radio reception on AM and FM. If there is a CD player, try loading and ejecting a disc. If you plan on using an MP3 player or an iPod in the car, bring that along and test out the connection if there is one.
Roof. Check the headliner and roof trim for stains or sags to see if water is leaking through the sunroof, ill-fitting doors, or windows. If equipped with a sunroof or moonroof, check to see if it opens and closes properly and seals well when shut. Inspect the convertible top for tears by shining a flashlight up into it.
Trunk. Use your nose as well as your eyes. Sniff and look for signs of water entry. See if the carpeting feels wet or smells musty, and check the spare-tire well for water or rust.
5. Test Drive the car
Don’t ever buy the car before test drive. This is perhaps one of the best ways to know the condition of the car. Hence, a buyer should make all effort to do a test drive first before coming to any decisions.
Be sure to check the brakes by pressing hard on it while going around 50-60 km/h in an area without traffic. You should not feel any vibration from the brake pedal, or hear any squealing or strange noises. Brakes that pulsate indicate the need for having the rotors resurfaced or replaced and new pads installed. It should not swerve; this can be caused by a bad brake caliper or worn steering components.
Look for trembling movements, minute trembling during a small speed interval may mean wear at the direction mechanical parts which may cost some where near 3000 to 7500 to repair. These may include joints / arms etc. This may go together with uneven wear at the front tire(s).
Check for sounds during sudden brake, a 90 degree turn or while coming in reverse, do this at low speed. This means again, wear at the front direction level: joints need to be changed.
6. Take the car to an independent mechanic
Before you close the deal, have it scrutinized by a repair shop that routinely does diagnostic work. A dealer should have no problem lending you the car to have it inspected as long as you leave identification. If a salesperson tells you that an independent inspection is not necessary because the dealership has already done it, insist on having your mechanic look at it. If a private seller is reluctant to let you drive the car to a shop, offer to follow the seller to the shop where the inspection will take place.
A thorough diagnosis should cost around Rs 2000 but check the price in advance. Ask the mechanic for a written report detailing the car’s condition, noting any problems found and the cost to repair them. You can then use the report in the negotiation with the seller.
If you don’t know of a repair shop with which you feel comfortable, try to get a referral from someone you trust. You can also ask for the name of a good shop at a local auto-parts store.
Make sure this mechanic has good reviews so you will not get scammed into thinking the car is a lemon.