Buying a new or used car can be one of the most exciting – and stressful – times of your life. Buying a car is a new commitment to something you’ll be spending a lot of time in, so you want to make sure that you are happy with your choice – and you don’t end up with something you hate.
Recently my sister purchased a used car from an individual she found online, on one of the auto sale sites. Her and her husband met the man, a prominent business man in the area, and they had no worries or concerns after a quick drive around and a few looks under the hood. But soon she realized there was a lot more than meets the eye – so we put together a list of things we wished she would’ve looked for before buying a used car.
Windows. Do you ever think to roll down every single window in the car? Those electric motors can go out pretty easily, and though not a hugely expensive task to replace, it’s a giant pain – especially in a car you just bought. I suggest to not only roll them up and down once, but a few times during the course of your inspection. In fact, roll them down before you even start on your drive.
Radio. It almost seems if radios are now obsolete with all our music being downloaded to our phones, and iPods and tablets. But who doesn’t love to jam out when it’s a gorgeous day, or you’re stuck in traffic? Too many times the entire radio system doesn’t work in older, used cars, so even trying to plug in your device to play your music through the system won’t even work. If the radio in the used car you want to purchase isn’t working, negotiate a lower price to make up for the difference it’s going to cost you to fix it!
Wipers. Whether it’s raining or not, be sure to check that the wipers actually work. Both back and front – back wipers seem to go out more often in older cars than the front, so be sure to check them a few times while test driving the vehicle.
Heating & AC System. When we were shopping for a car my husband found a ‘too good to be true’ vehicle that we test drove. As he was going on and on about the mileage, how well it ran, and of course the price, I noticed that the vehicle didn’t even come with AC! Now I don’t know what part of the U.S. would ever NOT need some AC in a vehicle, but where I live, that’s a major no-no. We researched how much it would cost to put AC in the car and it ended up being almost the price we were going to pay for it! Now most vehicles DO come with AC but that doesn’t mean that it works – test both the AC and heating system, because that can cause some major repair bills down the line (like whatever season is next!) IF it’s too cold out to see if the AC is working, try going somewhere you can drive into (like a garage of sorts) Test all the heater fan speed settings – it’s a common problem for the heater fan to only work at a high speed setting. Also watch out for a musty smell or other type of odors from the vents. Burnt oil smell from the vents indicate possible oil leaks from the engine, and smelling antifreeze smell can be a problem too.
Check for a Spare. Check to make sure that the car has a spare tire and a jack. Also if the tires have wheel locks installed, make sure you have the key to it!
Inspect Under the Hood. If at all possible, take the car to a trusted mechanic before purchasing – most mechanics (Especially if you are a regular) won’t charge you to do a once over on a car that they might have to possibly work on in the future (this is why I say trusted). If you aren’t able to take the vehicle to a mechanic, then look for these issues: leaks, smell or burnt oil or antifreeze, anything that makes it look like the car hasn’t been regularly serviced, signs of poor quality of repairs, or has been abused in anyway. Now just because it looks clean under the hood (which is what a lot of people do before selling) doesn’t mean everything is OK. IF at all possible, get to a mechanic!
Keyfobs. If it comes with key fobs, make sure that they both work. Nothing is worse than thinking you have the lock button or panic button at your side, for it not to work!
This post is sponsored in part by McLoughlin FIAT Dealership in Milwaukie, OR