Are you thinking about buying a pre-owned car? If so you need to make sure that you check it thoroughly and don’t end up with a vehicle that has serious issues that you’ll need to repair. There’s no reason to end up with a car that you are unhappy with when buying a used car if you complete all the right checks.

There’s a key point to remember here, and that’s to make sure that you test-drive the vehicle. It’s crucial that you get a feel for the car on the road and make sure there’s no issue driving it. The vehicle might look great, but until you actually take it out for a spin, you can’t know for sure. So, let’s start by thinking about the signs to watch out for during the drive. 

The Straight Line

You need to make sure that when you drive the car, it’s not veering to the left or right. If it is, this usually means there’s an issue with the wheel alignment that needs repairing. You don’t want to buy a car with this issue. It makes it more dangerous to drive and may use more energy because the wheels will be constantly pushed to maintain that straight line.

Stiff and Clunky

If you’re not buying an automatic check the gear shift and make sure that it moves naturally between the gears. If it sticks or you have difficulty getting it into one of the gears, this could mean there is an issue, and usually, a transmission overhaul will be needed. You certainly want to avoid that kind of repair when you are buying a pre-owned car.

Smells and Sounds

Trust your senses. The easiest way to make sure you’re buying a good car is to listen out for any sounds when driving that could mean there is a problem with the vehicle. Grinding and grating could be pointing to an oil issue in the engine. While a whistling noise usually means that there is a hole in the windshield. If you notice any issues like this, be sure to ask the dealer or owner to explain them before buying the car.

Now that you’ve tested the car on the road, you need to have a look around it and make sure there aren’t any red lights that shouldn’t be ignored.

New Parts

Have parts like the shift and pedals been replaced? Do they look a different age compared with the rest of the car? If they do, this is usually a sign that the car has seen a lot of wear and tear. Fast drivers usually eventually have to replace these parts on their car. You might want to be wary of buying a vehicle that has been through this type of renovation. Be sure to look for areas of the bodywork that look slightly different to the rest of the car. This is usually evidence that the vehicle has been fixed after an accident.

Check the Mileage

Does the mileage look peculiar? If you’re buying an older car, and it’s not a classic, the mileage should be high, pushing close to, or over, a hundred thousand. If it isn’t and you think the mileage is far too low, make sure to ask the owner for the paperwork. Or, you can use the VIN number to run your own check through CarFax, or one of the other sources that are available online. We at Citi Auto Group provide a free CarFax report with every car we sell.

Get the Car Level

If you’re buying from a private owner, the car might be parked on a driveway or a slope. This is a great way for sellers to hide parts of the car underneath that they don’t want you to see. Make sure that they have parked it level before you check around it. This way you’ll be able to see if any areas of the car are sagging or if there is an issue with the wheels. 

Look A Little Closer

You can always find evidence of work done to a car if you look close enough. Get up close to the paint work and you might see lines where scratches and dents have been painted over. Be sure to run your fingers over the edges of the car door. If it feels rough, this could be a sign that masking tape has been used there recently for a paint job.

Trunk in Good Condition?

If it is, there should not be any signs of wear or tear and be sure to look for areas of water damage. Any signs of water damage probably means that there is a hole somewhere in the bodywork of the car. On the other hand, if the trunk is in good condition that usually means the car has been well looked after, and you have nothing to worry about.

Can You See Under the Car?

Ideally, you should look under the car before buying it, inspecting it thoroughly. This is the only foolproof way to make sure that there aren’t any issues with the exhaust, fuel leaks or hidden damage. Any black spots on the exhaust may be a sign of leaking. If you can’t get under the car at least ask them to move it from where it’s been sitting. Usually, you’ll find that a car with an issue like an oil leak, leaves marks on the driveway or street. If you see any marks like this, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t buy the car. This is one of the main advantages of buying a used car from a dealer. They’ll have the equipment you need to see under it.

Modern Car Tips

Most cars manufactured after 2000 have technology that monitors many of the vehicles functions. So, when you turn the car on, and after it has idled for a while, pay close attention to the gauges and indicator lights. If there are any issues that need to be taken care of, the appropriate indicator light(s) should come on to let you know there is something that needs attention.

We hope this helps you make the right choice when you’re buying a used car, ensuring it is in great condition. If you have any questions, or want to take any of our cars out for a test drive, The friendly, knowledgeable staff at Citi Auto Group is always ready to help you find the right car for you.