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purchasing a used car

Buying A Used Car (Part 1)

Buying a used car is something that almost everybody would have to do at a point in their life. People buy used cars for different reasons. Maybe they don’t want to continue with their present mode of transportation, or that they just feel like replacing their old cars, but don’t have enough cash to buy a brand new vehicle. A lot of people prefer to opt for foreign used vehicles over the ones used indigenously.

Buying a used car comes with a lot of risks and questions;

  •  Will it be reliable? 
  •  Can I trust the person selling it to me?
  •  Will I get one in good shape or will I be buying a lemon? 
  •  Won’t I be getting ripped off financially?

Over the past few years, I have bought a number of used cars and I’ve learnt a lot from my different escapades.

However, there is one scenario I can never forget: I bought a totally squeezed lemon. It was a very bad deal. I still feel bad every day I remember it because it was for a friend.

Nonetheless, my loss is your gain because I’d been telling you what not to do, so you won’t be like me, and I’ll give you the best tips on buying a used car.

Today on Drive-Right, we will be discussing “Buying a Used Car”.

Guidelines to follow when buying a used car.

 The checks for buying a used car can be divided into about five different segments.

1. Exterior checks 

 When buying a used car;

  •  have a look at the body panels; do they align just right? Or is there any noticeable bend or dent in the body of the vehicle? 
  • Are there any scratches? 
exterior checks
Check the panels to see if they align
  •  Are there any misaligned panels or uneven painting work? These are signs of a dent or a worst-case scenario of an accident.

The front

  •  Move to the front of the vehicle; is there any form of misalignment in the bumper or any broken plastic parts? This points to the fact that the vehicle might have been involved in an accident before. You may want to pop the hood and look at the front frame and also the chassis legs. If there is any major bend or weld in that part of the vehicle please do yourself a favor and walk away. You don’t want to buy something that will need reshaping and remodelling, and will still eventually fall apart.
damaged front end of a car
You don’t want to see things like this
  •  Take a look at the front and taillights; Are the lenses filled with water? Are they clear? This can serve as a good bargaining tool.

The tyres

  •  Have a look at the brake discs and pads; If there’s a massive lip or indentation at the top of the disc, that means they have a lot of wear and will need to be replaced. You also use this as a bargain.
  •  Are the tires in good condition? Do they still have a lot of treads?
  • Take a look at the CV joints and the arms of the vehicle. Move the tires, they should be quite rigid with no room of movement; up and down, right and left. They cost quite an amount to maintain so you need to make sure they’re in perfect condition.
man checking the condition of the control arms
Man checking the condition of the control arms. Note the position of his hands
  •  Last but not least, look under the vehicle for rust. Rust is the worst enemy of any vehicle; it can practically make you spend the vehicle’s worth on it. 
check for rusty undercarriage when buying a used car
Rusty sub-frame. Avoid these at all cost

Some cars have beautiful bodies and very rusty undercarriages, don’t be fooled. And, if you already see the rust on the body…

2. The Engine

You open the bonnet of the vehicle

  •  Check the general condition of the engine; are there any oil leaks? Is the engine bay looking neat? By “neat”, I do not mean washed because an engine bay that has been recently washed has been stripped of all the evidence necessary to know if the vehicle is in good condition. You do not want to see engine oil or coolant leaking anywhere because that is indicative that something somewhere is wrong with the engine.
  • Check the oil using the dipstick. You neither want to see any milky-white oil nor do you want to see black oil. Milky-white all means that somehow, coolant is mixing with the engine oil. This is indicative of many things ranging from a cracked engine block to a burnt head gasket. Whereas, black soggy oil indicates that the engine hasn’t been well-maintained; the owner has not done the service at the proper time. 
  • Also open the oil filler cap and check it for milky white oil. Don’t forget to look inside the engine.
checking the oil filler cap while buying a used car
Take the next available exit once you see this
  • Check the coolant level to see if it is well up and if it is still colored. Don’t open the coolant if it is hot you might burn yourself.
  •  Check the brake fluid; is it up to level? 
  •  Check the belts ensure that they are not worn, cracked, loose or taut. Twist it the quarter of an inch to confirm.
  • Go under the engine and look again for any form of leaks.
Filthy undercarriage of an engine
You do not want to see this when you look under the car

3. The Interior 

 When checking the interior the first thing I recommend is that you look closely at the rug for signs of spirogyra growth and damp smells. This is indicative that the vehicle might have been involved in a flood incident. Flood-damaged cars always have electrical issues and trust me a vehicle that is riddled with electrical issues can kill a man. Run away immediately!

Flood damaged car
You definitely don’t want to see things like this
  •  If there are no flood damage signs, look generally at the interior. Is it nice? Has it been well maintained? Check if the windows are all working, check the stereo… the aesthetics in general. If they are fine, we then move on to the most important part.

The most important part to be discussed in the second part of this post which will drop on Friday evening by 5 p.m. Subscribe to receive it in your inbox as soon as it drops. 

Part one is not enough to help you buy a car because I fulfilled all that was necessary for this first part but still failed because I forgot to confirm just one thing. Stay tuned.

10 thoughts on “Buying A Used Car (Part 1)”

  1. This is interesting to know, but what if all these are the reason for the low in price of the vehicle, can it be maintained or worked on.
    This is insightful. Thanks to Iknowmotors.com

    1. One thing that must be understood is that; in a car, two things are important
      1. The Engine and transmission- a car is nothing without the engine
      2. The body- chassis and top
      The quality of these two should not be compromised for any reason. you can compromise on the other parts of the vehicle provided that you’ve done your research and found out that they are not expensive to fix. And provided that you do not find it burdensome to visit your mechanic frequently.

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