Tips on Buying a Used Car: What Worth Checking?

Buying a Used Car

Buying a car, even used car is a joyous event, but troublesome. You need to keep your eyes open. The seller can easily see through you and understand whether you freshman or not. He will “modestly keep silence” about some drawbacks in the car. It’s always much better to come with a man who understands vehicles. But you also need to know some basic things in a mechanism of a car too. This article may not make you pro, but it will give you necessary understanding of the most important points.

You need to start checking from the phone call. Here is a sample list of general questions that you can ask the seller:

  1. If he is the first owner of the car. If not he needs to possess all necessary documents. What is the year of manufacture of the car? Find out how it was exploited. You can determine the real age of the car by a variety of features. For example, you may look at the marking on the glass and find out year of manufacture. But most important thing is in what conditions that car was exploited.
  1. What is the place where the car was stored? In the parking lot under the open sky or in a warm garage. It is very important not only from the point of view of safety of a vehicle body. For example, the degree of deterioration of one engine start in the cold equates to several hundred kilometers in the summer.
  1. What is the mileage of the car? Do not focus on it, but remember in the future. On examination you can check the odometer. If you have any doubt about odometer indications then perhaps it was “spun down”. You already know how the vehicle was exploited, and can, by multiplying the average annual mileage (usually 10-25 thousand miles) on age, calculate the actual mileage. But, as is the case with age, it is important to concentrate on the conditions of exploitation.
  1. Ask the seller about the reasons of selling a car. If it is due to the fact that he has a child, or just needs money, then it’s a good sign, but if that person answers something unintelligible, then perhaps the reason is in some serious faults.
  1. The condition of the car? The principle of “there’s no free lunch” is quite suitable in that case. Ask about all the repairs and the replaced parts of the vehicle. This may hint at some problems that the host is deliberately glosses over.
  1. Was the car in the accident? An accident can cause significant changes in the operation even of those units and components which have not been directly exposed and have not been repaired. If spars suffered (inner supporting body component), it can significantly reduce the structural strength, and hence the safety of the car. In any case, if the person doesn’t just want to get rid of old junk, he will tell you everything you need to know about the automobile. You’ll feel his attitude to the car, pay attention to it.

First impression

If a vehicle do not damaged and you like it, then you need to make an external inspection. Here are the major points that you need to turn your attention. Examine the body of a car for rust and rot. The most common places are sills, wheel arches, roof rack (under the carpet). A little rust is normal, but if it is a lot, you should refrain from buying. Check the paint layer. If some scratches were glossed or dents, it is likely that it would be seen as to hit the color is very difficult. If the body was painted entirely, then this should trigger your suspicion – it is not excluded that the painting was made to conceal serious defects. If you noticed any swelling or waviness, and the owner claims that the hadn’t been in accidents, then it is a sign that he keeps back.

Look under the car

Make sure that there are no small puddles on the pavement and there is not dripping from somewhere. These may include: oil or antifreeze – brake fluid (green or red), petrol or water (water can be just condensation from an air conditioner). Generally speaking, a slight leakage of oil from the engine is not something extraordinary for used car. But if there is a leak, and you yourself can’t assess the severity, it is better to postpone the purchase, and to invite a knowledgeable person. Pay your attention to the wheels. They must stand straight, be on the same level. Look also at the tire tread, the wear should be uniform.

Take a look under the hood

Just one look at the appearance of the engine can say many things both about the car and it’s owner. The inspection is preferably carried out twice – before and after the test drive. The engine must be clean. That means that it should not be obvious signs of oil leakage. If it is “shining”, it is likely that it was washed before sale. Look at the inner side of the hood. If it is covered with a black coating, the oil leakage is likely to be. Check all the gear belts on pulleys for the sign of deterioration.

Turn on the engine

Leave the hood open and turn the key in the ignition to switch on the appliances (do not start). This should light a lamp battery and oil pressure. Too bad if it did not happen. Start the engine. If the bulbs does not go out, then you have a reason to ask the owner of a car a number of direct questions. Notice how quickly the engine starts. It should work quietly and evenly. Press the accelerator pedal and listen. Are there any knocks and drops. Release the pedal. If the engine rev fell at once, or it is too big even at idle speed, then there is a problem with regulation. This says more about the host than about the motor, because the operation is simple. Pay attention to the color of the exhaust. White color should disappear as soon as the engine warms up (especially if the weather is dry and warm), if it is not then there can be worn out cylinder head which needs to be replaced.

Black color means that the engine requires adjustment, but if smoke is bluish it’s a bad sign, in that case a serious repair is necessary.

Check the oil level and brake fluid

Many people think that petrol is the blood of the engine. In fact, gasoline is the food of the motor, and his blood is oil. Those who forget to check the oil level (and top it up if necessary) significantly shorten the life of the engine. It is overheating and wear out faster. After the engine has warmed up, turn it off. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it with a cloth and put in place. Then again, remove and see what part of it is covered with oil. Usually the dipstick has a corresponding label that shows the required level. But in addition to the quantitative evaluation you need to evaluate oil quality. If the oil is dark, this is normal. Abnormally if it is thickened and looks not like a thin film on the dipstick. Changing the oil is one of the basic and necessary operations, and if the owner is too lazy to do it regularly, then the motor is likely to severely deteriorated. Do not forget to check the brake fluid level. This can be done by unscrewing the cap of the container.

Check shock absorbers and light devices

You can check the condition of the shock absorber dramatically pushing down every corner of the machine. If it makes more than one oscillatory motion, the shock absorbers need to be replaced. Try all lights in the vehicle – headlights, turn signals, brake lights. Also, check the lighting in the cabin.

Check backlash

You must pay special attention to the backlash steering, clutch and brake pedals. The maximum allowable backlash in steering is 5 centimeters, i.e. it should not rotate more than 5 centimeters in each direction before the rotation of the wheel. Engage first gear and try to get under way. Note how far you need to release the pedal of it’s pressed state. If the setting takes place at the very end, the clutch may require serious repair or replacement. The brake pedal should not go up to the floor for a few centimeters. Click on it and hold for a minute or so. The tension should not weaken, otherwise the brake system has a leak.

Let’s go!

Since the machine is unknown, be extremely careful. Brakes. Check them out right after the beginning of the movement. Watch if there is no throwing the car to the side while braking. Make sure that you do not hear any suspicious sounds. Don’t be scared if something throw the car to the side (similarity camber is likely not to be adjusted). If braking is jerky, the problem with the pads: perhaps it needs to be replaced.


Try to ride on small bumps and potholes, and listen to how the suspension works. Heavy knocks should alert you. If the wheel starts to shake at high speed or at a abrupt turn, the wheel may not be centered or may be unbalanced.

Transmission and Clutch

Gears must switch easily and without any extraneous sounds. They also do not have to be broken and jump (especially reverse gear). Listen to the noise in transmission with squeezed and released clutch: if you feel the difference – be prepared for repair.


It is much better to check a vehicle in daylight. The wax coating, especially under artificial light (eg garage), may not only hide scratches, but also more serious defects. If in ad has been said about the “appropriateness of bargaining”, your first bid on 30-40 percent lower, you will have place for maneuver. If it is not said about bargaining, you can try to bargain in this case, just be modest and offer a 20 percent reduction. Found flaws may be a good basis for bargaining. Talk beforehand with a mechanic to find out how much the repair costs. Then you can safely operate these figures in a conversation with the seller.

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