Things to Look Out for When Buying a Used Car


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A collection of tips on buying a used car. It focusses on checking out the car.

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Things to Look Out for When Buying a Used Car

  1. 1. Things to look out for when… …buying a used carBuying a used car is a major purchase, but it’salso a very risky one.If you’re planning to buy a used car make sureyou know what to look out for.These tips are a good place to start.
  2. 2. BodyworkPros• A nice even coat of paint with no irregularities. Irregularities could be a sign that the car has been in an accident and re-sprayed.• All panels and doors etc. are symmetrical and flush. If they’re not this can be another indication that the car has been in a crash and had a poor repair job.Cons• Rust patches; rust is a cars worst enemy. Check everywhere: under the wheel arches, around the trunk and especially the floor.• Damaged or rotting rubber seals around the windows, windshield and sunroof. If the seals aren’t right there may be hidden rust patches.
  3. 3. The EnginePros• A nice quite smooth sounding engine. If the engine sounds rough or louder than it should this can be an indication of a problem.• A fairly clean engine bay. This is a good indication that the car has been looked after.• Smooth and responsive power. If a car is sluggish to respond it may not have been well looked after.Cons• Oil leaks. If you notice any oil leaks this could mean the car is in need of a costly repair.• The oil light takes quite a while to go out. If the oil light doesn’t go out quickly there could be a serious problem.• Coloured exhaust fumes. If there is blue, black or white smoke coming out of the exhaust this could be a serious problem.
  4. 4. Vehicle InformationPros• Full service history. A good service history shows that the owner(s) have taken good car of the car.• A low number of owners. This usually means that the owners have been happy with the car.• An average yearly mileage of under 15,000 per year. Cars with more than this may have had a hard life.• A clean vehicle history check. It’s important to get as much info as you can about the vehicles history.Cons• Any issue with VIN numbers not matching, being different from the documentation or looking like they’ve been tampered with. If there is anything suspicious at all about the VIN numbers don’t buy the car.• Numbers on the odometer out of line. This can be a sign that the odometer has been tampered with and the real mileage is actually much higher.