Tips for Buying a Used Car

Monday, January 9, 2012

Buying a used car can be a cost effective way to get yourself the car you really want at a price you can afford, but it can also be a mine field of uncertainty. How do you know you’re getting what you pay for? While there’s never any guarantees in used car buying, these tips and tricks will help you make an informed decision.

Before Shopping

Before going out and buying a car – used car or otherwise – it’s always best to get your financing in place. This will save you time and allow you to know exactly which vehicles you can afford.

It’s also a good idea to do some online research. Check out average rates for cars you are interested in and check a number of different sites, including dealer sites, classifieds, and online traders.

When Inspecting the Car

Once you’ve found a used car you think you are interested in make sure to take the following steps while inspecting it:

  • Make sure the car is on level ground. Most people don’t think to do this, but having it on level ground will allow to clearly check the tires and to see if anything is sagging on the car.

  • Check the paint job on the car. Take note of any rusts spots, dents or scratches. Also look for waviness or roughness in the paint as this could indicate paint work.

  • Check the trunk and engine for wear. Signs of rust, water entry, cracks, holes or damaged parts indicates usage on the car.

  • Check the inside of the car. Check the upholstery and seats for any tears, rips, stains or any other type of damage. While inside also check the air-conditioning and make sure it is working well.

  • Check the odometer of the car. This may seem like a no-brainer, but is very important. Mileage indicates the car’s age. On average, a normal driver will drive  between 15,000 and 25,000 kilometres a year. Remember cars age by mileage AND time though. Buying a 10 year old car with very low kilometres is not necessarily a good thing.

  • Test drive the car. This is one of the best ways to get to know the condition of the car. Test the breaks, acceleration, and overall feel of the car during your test drive.

  • Have a mechanic inspect it. It is worth the money to have a mechanic inspect it. Spending a little money on an inspection, could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.