Avoid a Lemon – Used Car Buying the Smart Way
Buying a new car is always a big decision, because you can find a great deal on a low mileage older car if you are careful, but you have to do your homework. Before you make a commitment, take the used vehicle you are considering to a trusted mechanic or auto repair shop for a thorough inspection. A good mechanic will be able to see wear on parts or impending car problems that you may not notice.
There are some things that you can look for while shopping for a used car that will make your purchase more successful.
Find the Best Model for Your Budget
Decide how much you are willing to spend, how old and how many miles the odometer should have on it in the best case scenario. Do you want a used sedan, mini-van, SUV or truck? That will give you a place to start your search and adjust from if needed.
Begin Researching Used Cars
Now begin to research! Some models have bad reviews for certain years and some have certain problems that seem to recur within the brand. Problem prone cars are a good thing to stay away from.
Find the 2 or 3 models that best meet your qualifications and look specifically for those in the used car ads, on autotrader.com, or on the local car lots. Adjust your expectation for the year and mileage as needed to get a great car within your budget if needed.
Test Drive to Look For Car Problems
Test drive more than one used car of each model to get the feel for how it should drive. Every manufacturer makes cars with different priorities, so every model will drive differently, and if it is having car problems, it will feel or sound different than one that is in optimum condition.
Look Closely at Used Car Exterior
- Body Condition – Misaligned fenders, doors and body panels, dents, dings and scratches
- Glass – Cracks, and stone chips can get larger over time, especially in the ever-changing Iowa weather
- Suspension – Bounce the car on each corner to see if the shock absorbers are working properly.
- Lights – Make sure all of the headlights, rear lights and brake lights work properly
- Tires – Look for uneven wear or excessive wear on tires. A mechanic will be able to tell you if the tires are good or if the previous driver was aggressive by looking at tread wear.
Look for Signs of Good Car Care in the Interior
- Seats and Carpet – Look for excessive wear or stains. A lot of wear on a low mileage car may indicate the odometer was set back or rolled over. Check the Seat and window controls if they are electric.
- Smells – Smoke smells, rotten food smells may be unwanted, but a musty or moldy odor could indicate the car was in a flood or has a leak.
- Roof – Look at the ceiling for the upholster coming down and make sure moon roof works if there is one.
- Trunk – Look for smells or signs of water entry.
- Sound System – Make sure the radio gets reception and CD player works if it is equipped with one.
Have a Professional Auto Repair Mechanic Take a Look
Once you are just about ready to sign the paperwork and pay tax, title and license on your new to you vehicle – PAUSE! Ask the dealer if you can have the car checked over by an auto mechanic of your choice – not one that they suggest. Make an appointment for the auto inspection, and listen carefully to what the mechanic has to say.
They may find something that can be easily fixed before you take it off the lot, or they may find an issue that is a negotiation point, but will need to be fixed eventually. A mechanic may even completely steer you away from buying a car if the car problems are too extensive, or a check of the VIN number report shows past damage that might cause future problems.
If you need a mechanic to do an inspection on the used car you are about to buy, call 5 Seasons Tire and we will get you in fast to ensure that your dream car doesn’t turn into a nightmare.