7 things to check when buying a second hand car

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You have crunched the numbers trying to determine the best vehicle to purchase for your circumstances. You have talked to your auto car loans Australia car finance company and know there are a number of nice pre-owned vehicles within your budget.

How do you know that the pre-owned vehicle you are considering to purchase is everything it is advertised to be? The following are seven things you should check before purchasing a used car.

1. Vehicle History

A car's history gives you the full story. It helps you avoid getting ripped off. There are many horror stories of people who have purchased cars that have serious mechanical issues or who have later found out that the car was stolen.

This means checking out the VIN of the vehicle. No two cars have the same VIN. This information will tell you about registration, recalls, ownership, and more. You can find the VIN by looking on the driver's side front door or the front corner where the windshield and the dashboard meet.

2. Check for Rust and Paint Damage

Check along the frame rails, which are right underneath the door. Look inside the wheel wells and the exhaust pipe area. If you see irregular lines in the paint, this is an indication that the car has been damaged and was repainted. Look along the contour of the vehicle for waves or bumps as this is also an indication of a repair and repaint.

When you look for rust, lift the car up on a jack to get a better look underneath. If this is not possible, slide under the car with a flashlight and look at all of the metal. Do not forget to look at the trunk hinges, door hinges, and hood hinges as rust can appear there.

3. Check For Structural Issues

Major and minor collisions can cause structural damage to a used vehicle. Vehicle safety can be compromised and related mechanical problems could appear down the road. Structural damage is damage that happens to the underlying structure or underpinnings of the vehicle. It is possible for a trained mechanic to repair a car with structural damage. However, a car that has had structural damage and then has been repaired will have a lower than average resell value.

4. Take a Good Look at the Engine

When you purchase a used car, checking the condition of the engine is important because engine problems can be expensive to repair. We recommend having your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic prior to signing the contract. It’s difficult to evaluate the condition of an engine with a quick test drive. Some things to look for are:

•           Visible oil leaks

•           Burnt oil smell

•           Coolant leaks

•           Low dirty oil levels

•           Condition of the timing belt

5. Check the Condition of the Tires

Tire tread should be evenly worn, so all four tires should match. If the wear on the tires is not even, this indicates poor alignment. This may mean that there is a steering issue, an issue with the frame, or a problem with the suspension. A poorly aligned vehicle will pull to the right or the left when it is in motion.

6. Check the Mileage

Mileage is the barometer by which to judge the car's value. A newer car with higher mileage may be less expensive than older car with low mileage. Low mileage means that you should expect a longer life for most components. The downside with an older car that has low mileage is that cars are designed to be driven. If they sit idle for too long, plastic and rubber parts that serve as seals can become brittle and start to leak, leading to expensive repairs in the future.

7. The Condition of Internal Electronics

Being able to listen to your radio as you drive is one of the small joys of car ownership. Press all the buttons and make sure that the electronic components work. Test the air-conditioning and the heat.

There are a number of benefits that come from purchasing a used vehicle as opposed to a new one. Your new vehicle is going to depreciate 20 percent in the first year. However, you can purchase the same model vehicle that’s just three years older and get more value from your investment. Just take the time to do your due diligence and examine your car carefully and there is no reason that your used car cannot last for many years.