You want to buy a used car? Follow this four-step inspection program to determine the reliability, condition and value of the vehicle.
Buying a reliable used car requires a little homework. Here are four tips for buying a used car that will increase your chances of getting a car that won’t turn into junk. This step-by-step inspection program works whether you buy from a car park or a private party. This is not rocket science, just simple logic.
This story is not about cosmetic problems such as rust, body dents or dirty carpet. In addition, I assume you bought a vehicle that is out of the manufacturer’s warranty period.
1. Check the Reliability of Used Vehicles on the Internet
After you have decided on several vehicle models that interest you, it is time to start your research in online forums such as edmunds.com and automotiveforums.com. These are two websites where you can read comments and ask about the collection of thousands of people who actually own the vehicle. Review the owner’s comments and ask about their ownership experience. Find out if there are recurring problems with the year, the make and model, and how many owners have paid for repairs. Then ask if they will buy the same vehicle again. They will give you a straight answer. Some forum members respond immediately, but be patient; it might take several days to get lots of responses.
Meanwhile, check rockauto.com’s “Repair Index” to compare the cost of repair components. You can find, for example, that a replacement for a certain European sedan alternator can cost more than $800, while the same item for a similar domestic model is relatively cheap at $150. When you buy a used vehicle, the cost of parts is a major concern.
2. Check Used Cars Before Taking a Test Drive
Check the hyphen lights. Turn the key to the “run” position. Check Engine (Immediately Service Engine), Airbags (SRS), Antilock brakes (ABS), Anti-theft (Safety), and traction control, lights must be on. After you start the engine, all the lights must go out.
Check the tires. If you see cracks in the tread area or sidewall, or see steel cables sticking out, you will need new tires immediately. So, subtract at least $450 from the seller’s asking price (more for truck or SUV tires).
Next, use the tread depth gauge (less than $5 at each auto parts store) to check the treads at the edges and center of the tire.
Worse tread wear on one side of the tire indicates an alignment problem (minimum of $100). The irregular tread depth around the tire (cupping) shows wear struts or wear suspension components (replacement strut around $450 for parts and labor).
Check boot speed constant (CV). If they crack, you see big money, at least $400 per side (parts and labor) for the rebuilt axle assembly.
Check for engine sludge or severe varnish buildup. Both are signs of neglected maintenance. Remove the oil filler cap and inspect the engine internally.
The cold engine must be started immediately, without having to “give it gas.” If it is idle when the engine is warm, it is a sign of fuel problems, ignition, or problems related to vacuum. That would require a minimum cost of $250 to diagnose and repair.
3. Take a Used Car in a Test Drive
It’s not “once around the block,” a 10-minute drive. You should really place a used car through its steps on city streets and on the highway. Here’s what to look for:
- When you start the test drive, check the brake pedal pulse. Pulsation is caused by a brake rotor runout (warpage), and repairs are usually in the form of brake work ($250 to $500). Pulsation may not turn off the deal, but must reduce the price of your offer.
- Check the steering wheel shake and steering. If the wheels vibrate, the cause may be an unbalanced tire (around $ 25). But if the vehicle is “wandering” and the steering wheel requires continuous correction, it is a sign of serious problems related to steering or suspension (minimum $400 for auto parts and labor).
- Check transmission shift speed. Each transmission is different, but as a general rule, the first shift (1-2) must occur at 13 to 20 km / h. The next shift (2-3) must occur around 30 to 40 km / hr. If the vehicle overdrive, the last shift must occur around 65 km / hour. If you have doubts about the gearshift, ask your mechanic to check it.
- Check overall engine performance. Acceleration from stopping without stopping. You will not hesitate, limp or hiccup. Then place it under a heavy load by driving it up a steep hill or hitting it hard on the highway. You should not feel left behind or left behind. If so, there is a “driveability” problem, and it costs a minimum of $100 just to get a scan tool check.
4. Take a Used Car for Inspection
Negotiate the price first, then take it to the mechanic for a final inspection.
Most mechanics require a $100 fee for a used vehicle inspection, and this is the best money you will ever spend. Before you agree to Check, negotiate the best price for the problem you have found. Then make the final purchase you need on a clean health payment from your mechanic. Make sure the final inspection checks the scan tool for “monitor readiness” and “code pending.” I agree with you – don’t skip the final inspection step just to save $100.