Buying a used car is an excellent way to save money, and to avoid depreciation. After all, this is a major purchase – and the second-hand market is abundant when it comes to bargains.
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With that said, shopping used is not without its risks. It’s therefore worth exercising a little bit of prudence before you make the purchase. Let’s take a look at a few of the things that used-car shoppers should be on the lookout for if they want to avoid making an expensive mistake.
Checking the Car Out
If you’re buying a used car without having inspected it in person, then you’re taking a major risk. Photographs rarely tell the whole story. They might be out of date, or misleadingly framed, or even digitally manipulated.
If your seller won’t allow you to inspect the vehicle, then you should consider it a major red flag. Once you’re up-close and personal with the car, however, you can run through a few common sources of difficulty. Look at the engine. Can you see any signs of a leak, anywhere? Make sure that you look underneath the car, as well as on top of it.
Your next point of call should be to start the engine. Does it sound like it’s in good health? Next, move around the rear of the vehicle and check the exhaust fumes while the engine is running. After a few minutes, the fumes should be smoke-free. If they aren’t, you’ve got a problem.
Whilst you’re on your test-drive, pay particular attention to the biting point of the clutch, and the ease with which you’re able to change gears. Too much grinding and straining is a bad sign.
Finally, you’ll want to inspect the chassis of the car. If it’s been repeatedly dented and scratched, then it might point to more fundamental problems. Even superficial damage can point to a pattern of neglect on the part of the previous owner.
Check the Dealership
Buying from an approved used dealership is a great way to avoid problems – but only if the dealership you choose is a reputable one. Many specialise in cars from a certain manufacturer. If you’re looking for used Audis in London, for example, there’s a specific place you might visit. This will provide you with the peace of mind of a warranty, too.
Check the Seller
Pushiness on the part of the seller is usually a bad sign. Don’t be pressured into a purchase you might later regret. If you’re looking for a bargain, it’s often a good idea to buy just as the number plates are about to change – since older cars will have their value cut, which will provide an incentive for the seller to sell quickly.