Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle often makes more financial sense than buying a new car. Of course, before you close the deal, it is vital that you are happy with the quality of the vehicle that you are buying. Any reputable used car dealer will understand the essential issues that every informed customer will expect to check on before signing a sales agreement. In this article, United Car Care reviews five things you should always check before purchasing a pre-owned vehicle.
1. Obtain an Independent Vehicle History
With a vehicle identification number (VIN), you can purchase a vehicle report from one of the national vehicle history reporting agencies, like CARFAX. Many dealerships will even offer this free of charge. The report compiles stated information about the title to the vehicle and some maintenance information. A history report will also indicate whether the vehicle has been in an accident or designated as a salvage title vehicle. Salvage titled vehicles are often priced well below market, but were previously deemed a total loss by an insurance company. These vehicles could have frame damage from an accident, airbags which had previously deployed, or have been in a flood. Additionally, salvage vehicles may be uninsurable. A vehicle history report will also tell you the number of owners and transfer information, any odometer manipulation, and some limited maintenance record information. You should understand that a history report does not provide information about the vehicle’s current condition or mechanical status.
- Make a Walkaround Inspection of the Vehicle
When you first look over a vehicle you are considering for purchase, take some time to look at several important indicators of the vehicle’s condition. Look for any paint chips on the body or any spots of rust. Most dealerships can repair small paint problems onsite before you purchase the vehicle. Check the condition of the tires. If they appear worn or mismatched, ask about new tires if you decide to purchase. Look at the general condition of the vehicle’s frame. See if the vehicle sits level to the ground or if it has anything hanging loose from the frame underneath the body. Any obvious frame or body issues will usually let you know you should move on to the next vehicle.
3.. Read the window sticker
Dealers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to post a Buyer’s Guide in every used vehicle offered for sale. The Buyer’s Guide is attached to a window and contains information, including whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty, and what percentage of repair costs (if any) the dealer is obligated to pay. If the Guide says that the vehicle is covered by a warranty, the dealer must honor that warranty.
If a sale is designated “as is,” it means that the dealer makes no guarantees as to the condition of the vehicle. So, any problems that arise after you have made the purchase will be your responsibility. You may want to consider adding a vehicle service contract to your purchase, which would help offset the expense of mechanical breakdowns. This cost can be built into your monthly car payments, making it more affordable and protecting you against a huge repair bill later.
4. Consider the Mileage Driven per Year
The average driver in the U.S. puts between 10,000 -15,000 miles per year on their vehicle. If you come across a car that has been driven far less than the average miles per year, be cautious. Vehicles with mileage substantially below this annual average may have been sitting for a long period of time which can negatively affect a car’s long-term reliability.
However, very high-mileage cars are also something to be wary of because high mileage does have consequences. While its cosmetic condition may be good, the more the wheels turn and the engine runs, the more wear the car’s powertrain will experience. While a vehicle’s lifespan varies between manufacturers, on average, is only expected to be 10 years or 200,000 miles. The more miles and the older the vehicle, the closer it is to reaching that lifespan.
5. Test Drive the Vehicle and Test Out All Electronics
Take the vehicle for a test drive to determine how the vehicle drives. How does it handle when turning? Does it accelerate smoothly or does it hesitate? Check that the brakes work well. Listen to see if you hear any odd noises. Modern vehicles come with all types of standard electronic equipment. Sound systems, GPS systems, alarm and security systems, and cameras all enhance your driving experience. Before you move forward with a purchase decision, test all of the electronic systems and be sure they are working correctly.
About United Car Care
United Car Care does business with integrity and is proud of the A+ Rating we have earned with the Better Business Bureau. United Car Care provides reliable protection at an affordable cost through valuable vehicle service contracts. Customers who are looking for mechanical protection for their vehicles rely on our contracts which are backed by an A-Rated insurer. United Car Care has over a million satisfied customers and has long term relationships with multiple dealerships and agents who trust the power of protection of our service contracts. We build relationships with our customers based on our core values — quality, dependability, and customer service.