Buying A Used Car

There is a big difference between purchasing a used car versus opting for a new vehicle. The primary consideration is the condition of the unit in question. Newer cars are guaranteed to be free from all defects. If not, your warranty will cover any repairs that are needed. The same is not necessarily true in reference to a used car. By their very nature, they can be prone to wear and tear. They may have an excessive amount of miles displayed on the odometer. You might even encounter problems with the engine soon after the purchase. So, this article is devoted to providing you with useful advice in regards to what to look out for and some major issues to avoid at all costs.

Under the Bonnet

You do not have to be a trained mechanic to spot trouble in regards to the engine. Check and see if there are any visible oil leaks. Do any hoses appear to be cracked or worn? Are any parts significantly newer than the others? Be sure to examine all fluids to make sure that they are topped up. The critical ones are:

• Transmission fluid
• Oil
• Brake fluid
• Antifreeze

It could also be a good idea to place a newspaper directly underneath the engine as soon as you drive the vehicle home (assuming that you purchased it). Leave the paper there overnight and in the morning, check to see if there are any stains. Should you find any, contact the seller immediately.

The Undercarriage

Inclement weather and harsh environment can take its toll on any vehicle. The undercarriage absorbs the brunt of such conditions. So, be sure to take a torch and examine this area in detail. Look for signs of excessive rust (there will always be a bit) and any hints that the metal has been corroded through to the other side. Otherwise, you could very well be in for costly repairs “down the road”.

Tires and Brakes

Does the tread upon the tires seem worn? When was the last time that they were changed and rotated? Uneven wear could signal a problem with the alignment of the vehicle. Also, be sure to see if there is any dust on the hubcaps. This is a sure-fire sign that the brakes have worn down and need to be changed out for a new pair. If you take the car for a test drive (which you should), feel the tires immediately after parking. If they feel very hot, this can be another indication that the brakes are not effective.

Interior, Glass and Other Concerns

The condition of the interior of any vehicle is the best way to determine how much care the previous owner devoted to its upkeep. Extremely worn seats, dirty dashboards and gauges that do not function properly are all warning signs to be aware of.

In terms of glass, make sure that all windows can roll up and down. Are there any cracks in the windscreen? Even the smallest of imperfections can quickly evolve into a situation that requires the entire screen to be replaced.

Finally, determine the condition of headlamps, tail lights, signals and emergency flashers. Should any of these units not function properly, the bulb may need to be changed or there could very well be a problem with the electronics of the car itself.

ALWAYS protect yourself and your interests by following this thorough checklist. You will potentially save yourself a significant amount of time and aggravation.

What Documents Need to be Checked when Buying a Used Car?

Let's assume that you have gone to a dealership or have met with a private seller. You were presented with an amazing deal on a used car and you are eager to move forward with the purchasing process. What documents provided by the seller should you check to make absolutely certain that everything is in good order? This is a critical topic, so we need to address such a question in greater detail. Feel free to print this article and take it with you during the engagement process.


The last thing that you need is to be burdened with a stolen vehicle or a car whose registration has expired. This could place you at risk for a fine and even a criminal charge. So, be sure to look at the registration document issued by the state. This is even more important if you are purchasing the vehicle from a private owner as opposed to the dealership. If either offers to send you across a scanned copy by email, decline. You need to view the original document in question. Hold it up to the light and make sure that watermarks are visible. Finally, check the personal information of the seller in relation to the information given on the form. If they do not match, it is a good time to start asking questions.

Service History

The service history of any used car should be provided without hesitation. A car that has a long record of recurring problems may eventually prove to be more trouble than it is actually worth. You will also be able to check the mileage stated and that which appears on the odometer to make sure that there are no discrepancies between the two.

The History of Recent Inspections

Modern times have allowed some of these processes to be carried out online; particularly all inspection documentation and some service history. This can be a great way to double check what the seller claims and to uncover any hidden problems that he or she may not have been completely forthright about. If you have any further doubts or questions, simply contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to speak with a qualified representative.


Once the sale has been completed, create a receipt and print out copies for yourself as well as for the seller. This will be important if you come across any legal issues in the future. Some critical information that should be contained within this document includes:

• The make and model of the vehicle
• The mileage
• The registration number
• Proof that both parties have agreed upon the sum of money that was exchanged.

These are some simple steps to make sure that you are always covered from both a legal and financial standpoint. If the seller seems hesitant to comply with any of these requests, this could be an indication that not everything is “above the board”. It will then be prudent to look elsewhere for a used car.

Common Buying Mistakes

Buying a car can feel like a “second Christmas” to many individuals. It is exciting and can represent a real life change; particularly if you have been struggling with an older model for some time. This sense of urgency can often lead us to make snap decisions. In some ways, this could actually be a bit dangerous. On over-eager approach is associated with choosing the wrong car based upon impulse as opposed to fact and prudence. Let's have a quick look at some common mistakes as well as the common methods to avoid them.

Failing to Negotiate Properly

It only makes sense to start at the top of the list. It is all too often that prospective buyers agree to a price that is far higher than what is reasonable. Seasoned sellers will often use pressure tactics to cement a deal before the buyer has had time to consider the offer. If you feel that you are being pressured in any way, it is best to take a step back and perform a bit of research before moving forward. You could otherwise find that you made a rather costly mistake.

Failing to Take a Test Drive

Never take the word of the buyer if he or she claims that driving the vehicle is “a dream”. A shiny exterior or leather seats could hide a number of mechanical issues. Failing to take a test drive could result in some very dire consequences. If the owner refuses to allow it, walk away. Otherwise, make sure to drive the vehicle in both city traffic as well as on the open motorway. Check variables such as the power of the engine, the turning radius and the braking ability. Take note of any strange sounds or thick smoke emitting from the tailpipe. These are all red flags that should influence your final decision.

Not Checking Underneath the Bonnet

You do not have to be a trained mechanic to appreciate some warning signs underneath the bonnet. Some obvious signals are frayed hoses, loose belts and components which appear to be very old. Take some time to check the fluids (brake, transmission for automatics and coolant). Are they all full? Grab a torch and examine the seals around the engine for signs of oil or discolouration. These could signal a small leak that will eventually conglomerate into a major issue. If you do not pay attention to the condition of the engine, you are likely to pay for this oversight in the future.

Registration Issues

Make CERTAIN that the registration number on the title matches that of the car itself. While rare, there are instances when an unscrupulous owner will try to pass off a stolen vehicle as their own. Should you purchase the car, you will be held liable by the authorities. If the seller is unwilling to provide the registration or only offers a copy, this is a warning sign. Finally, examine the document and hold it up to the light to make sure that the DMV watermarks are present. It may otherwise be forged.

The History of the Vehicle

Ask to see the documented service history of the vehicle (if appropriate). Check for when the last time it passed an inspection at an authorized garage. Make sure that the current sticker on the windshield is valid. Look for all repairs and services that have been performed during its lifespan. This is a great way to appreciate the care that was undertaken by the previous owner. Unfortunately, many buyers fail to properly examine this history and they could very well discover that they have purchased a car without a valid inspection certificate.