6 Helpful Tips on How To Choose a Used Car


Buying a used car is often a tricky choice because discovering the perfect model can be extremely difficult. Sometimes finding a good used car is equal to great success because hidden defects can make the purchase extremely unprofitable. That’s why it is essential to understand what to look for when buying a used car.

It may seem that you remember all the nuances, but when it comes to the next car, you may forget about half of the things that you wanted to check. The other half may be checked in a hurry and the seller will be able to hide the flaws. After a short time, the purchased car may start to break and you will have to sell your junk car for cash. To avoid such a pity, check these six helpful tips on how to choose a used car. 

1. Carefully review the ad

Every seller (whether he is a private person or a professional trader who posts more than a dozen ads a day) wants to sell a car quickly and profitably. It is clear that the ad will indicate the advantages of the car, while defects will be placed at the very end or omitted altogether. For example, it is better to write that the tires are new without mentioning the fact that they are the cheapest and need to be replaced after as soon as possible.

The better the car is described in the ad, the more difficult it is to evaluate it later because subconsciously you believe that the ad is true. Sellers may say that the paintwork is in good condition but in reality, it can be badly scratched or even with rusty places. It doesn’t matter that after washing the car, dull spots, previously covered with wax, will appear and in a few months after an incompetent painting the paint will come off. 

2. Check the condition of the body

You should check the paint and its condition, as well as the gaps and the installation of the add-on components. It is necessary to look for enlarged gaps between parts, shagreen, local corrosion, and traces of poor-quality paint application to the old one. 

A thickness gauge (paint thickness gauge) is an extremely important tool during the car examination. Indeed, if you look at cars that were manufactured more than 10 years ago, it is practically impossible to find ideal paintwork. However, the age of the car doesn’t justify poor-quality DIY repairs or serious damage after an accident.

You should understand that a fifteen-year-old car used daily can’t look like new. That’s why minor scratches and damages on bumpers, door edges, sills, or even slightly damaged paintwork can be considered normal. On the contrary, great doubts should be caused by the ideal condition and shine of the body. Such shine may hide a recent repair after an accident. If the seller mentioned this in the ad and told about the reasons, there is no reason to worry. However, if the seller hides the truth, it could be a bad sign. 

Being particularly picky about the little things is a good option when buying a car. There are people who simply care about their car and in most cases, it is obvious. The owner should answer any question clearly and blurry answers can raise doubts.

3. Condition of seats and pedals

Worn seats and pedals are also considered indicating elements that the car was used intensively. Obvious wear, scuffs, and cracks are a sign of heavy vehicle use. If the seller claims a mileage of about 100 thousand miles and the driver’s seat is badly worn out, the pedals are worn out, you should think about the advantages of buying such a car.

Most often, the driver’s seat is badly worn out in cars with high mileage (over 200,000 miles). Scuffs, cracks, holes, and failures can also appear. In this case, the simple replacement of the driver’s seat is no problem. That’s why you should compare the color, shade, and condition of the remaining seats. If you have the slightest doubt, you need to clarify all questions with the seller. If the answers are blurry, it is better to refuse such an option.

As for the condition of the pedals, severely worn, frayed, or even “leaky” pads are a sign that the car has great mileage. In addition, a badly worn clutch pedal may mean that the vehicle has been heavily used in the city, which can be crucial for diesel vehicles. However, an almost new pedal shell in a car with a range of more than 100,000 miles should also cause doubts. This could mean that they were replaced recently.

4. Look under the car

A used car should always be inspected with someone who knows cars well, has experience in selling, buying cars, or just a mechanic. If none of your friends fits this point, you can contact the service station to evaluate the condition of the car. If everything is in order with the car, the seller will agree to this procedure without any questions. However, if the seller refuses, it is better to refuse the purchase as well. 

In addition, the cost of professional diagnostics will cover the forthcoming repair costs in case of buying a car in poor technical condition. The car should be viewed from below because all traces of major repairs and possible defects are clearly visible from there. For example, the engine can be cleaned from the top, but all leaks will be perfectly visible from the bottom.

You can also assess the condition of the individual controls, suspension, and exhaust system. For example, the original muffler can show the car's mileage. Under normal use, this element in modern cars can easily withstand around 150,000 miles. If the vehicle was used in difficult conditions, the chassis will be covered with rust which attacks the exhaust system and the main suspension elements.

5. Check the condition of consumables

In most cases, the seller will not sell the car immediately after the general maintenance and replacement of consumables. However, selling a car can’t be an excuse for the poor condition of the consumables.

Before buying cars, check the condition of tires, brake discs, pads, shock absorbers, suspension components, exhaust systems, etc. Discs with a damaged rim, thin brake pads, shock absorbers with smudges, or worn-out suspension are the signs that the seller didn’t take care of the car and wants to get rid of it as soon as possible.

6. Look for a bad repair

Bad-quality repair is the first thing that gives out the history of the car. You need to lift the hood and look deep into the engine compartment. If the side members have unnatural folds or bends, this means that the car was involved in an accident. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the mounts under the bumper, because the same symptoms can indicate a strong hit.

After a hasty repair, you can find non-factory welds, folds, non-original paint, etc. All this is indisputable proof that the car was involved in an accident. In addition, you should check the windows in the car. They all should have the same year of manufacture and the same marking.

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30 Sep 2020

By Amelia Grant