10 things to know to avoid a purchase disaster
How do you find the right used car? Due diligence is key.
When you're in the market for a used car, the Latin phrase caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware") should be the guiding principle behind any purchase. Distinguishing a cream puff from a hard-ridden beater becomes an epic responsibility when so much of your hard-earned money is at stake. So how do you find the right used car? Due diligence is key. Having a plan about what to look for before scouring the Web and the streets in search of that diamond in the rough will help you find a vehicle that will serve as a reliable partner for miles to come.
The more detailed the repair records, the better your understanding of the car's history and its condition. Repair receipts from current and previous owners are great indicators of a vehicle's condition. Allen Otto of Hansville Repair in Hansville, Wash., says to keep an eye out for recently completed big-buck maintenance on high-mileage vehicles; look for items such as timing chain and belt service, water pump replacement and transmission repairs.
On newer vehicles, it's wise get a history report from services such as Carfax, AutoCheck and Instavin.com. However, Otto says buyers should understand that these reports refer only to insurance claims for incidents such as accidents, vandalism and flood damage, and have little to do with the mechanical operation of your candidate.
Signs of neglect
Always check a vehicle up and down, inside and out for any signs of damage or previous repair. Something as simple as the cleanliness of the interior can be a crystal ball into the quality of upkeep the vehicle has seen. Keeping a tidy cabin requires no technical ability and it illustrates the current owner's commitment to the vehicle.
MacGyver on duty
Escaping MacGyver-like from a jail cell with a paper clip, rubber band and ballpoint pen is one thing, but finding strange objects at work under the hood of a car is a red flag. Do you see some poorly executed do-it-yourself repairs? These can be another sign of neglect. Do all the tires match? A previous owner who cut corners on maintenance could be setting you up for a big fall.
A fluid situation
Checking oil and transmission fluid can provide key clues to an engine's internal health. Otto says the oil should not be gritty, watery or milky. Color is irrelevant. An oil-change sticker on the windshield can also provide insight. Transmission fluid is all about smell. An odor of dead fish means at some point the fluid got too hot, which leads to viscosity breakdown and potential damage. Be wary with your nose and also observe how the transmission shifts on your test drive.
Must-See on MSN
"Otto suggests taking a prospective car in for an oil change as a cheap way to get an expert's eyes on your prize. Hansville Repair conducts a 36-point visual inspection with its oil change."
I wonder how much Hansville Repair paid for this mention in the article? Yeah. Good idea folks. Take every car in for an oil change that you test drive this weekend. Real smart.
why do dealers take advantage of a woman when she out to get a car,and mechanics too.
i hate the thought of shoping for my next car.
when you buy a car also make sure you check your papers befor . you sign any loan.
i almost signed for 48-months instead of 36 -months . i kept telling the salesman i only
want a loan 36 months .when the papers were drawn up he tried to rush me to sign,
i decided to check the amount of months on the papers . thank God i checked it out.
i must of told him about 10 times 36 months. i walked out and never went back there.
more than one place tried this the same day in w.p.b.
I guess if you never bought a car, this post would be valuable? But with a Million plus Cars water damaged in the New York Floods, I expected to see recommended check for water stains, and fluid contaminations? A sure indication of future problems to ensue!
Personally, I don't trust . Powers and Car Fax: paid services, because of clerical omissions that have to depend on accurate recording of the service events!
Asking you’re after market parts dealer what cars require the most parts & service can reveal a lot!
Certain brands continue to be problematic! : All GM products, Doge is fair, Jeep has a poor service history! Older Volvo electrical problems!