Used Car Buyer's Guide - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Used Car Buyer's Guide

 

Checklist  for Buying a Used Car

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When you examine a used car, it's a good idea to wear old clothes. Have gloves or a rag for handling greasy or dirty areas. 

 

These items are also helpful: Flashlight,  small magnet, notepad and pen.

Helpful Hints:



If you are meeting a private party to look at a vehicle, try to get there 15 to 20 minutes early. You may discover the vehicle being prepared for your visit.

Always try to inspect vehicles during the day. The glare of lights can make paint seem shinier than it is, and can hide bad spots.

Try to get the seller to set a time for you to see the vehicle when it has been sitting overnight. You want to see how it will start first thing in the morning.

 

Take time to perform an inspection to your satisfaction. Don't hurry or let yourself be rushed.

Don't be afraid to ask the seller to help or show you something. If the owner objects to your taking the car to your mechanic, he may be hiding something.

 

Drive at 20 to 30 mph beside a solid center median or in front of store fronts. Roll the window down and listen for sounds of the vehicle echoed by the surface. You should only hear the sound of the tires on the roadway.



Work on your game by inspecting a vehicle your own car.

 

 

Exterior

Body

 O  O

Do the hood, trunk, door and fender seams meet evenly, with the same amount of gap?

 O  O

Does a magnet cling to all steel body panels? Frequent problem areas are fenders, the lower corners of doors, and rocker panels—the areas below doors. Rust or accident damage is fixed with Bondo, or other body filler. That's what you have if the magnet won't stay attached.

 O  O

Does the paint match on all body panels?

 O  O

Do you detect the signs of fresh paint? Over-spray on moldings and door jams are a giveaway. Examine door, hood, and trunk edges for color match. Fresh paint may cover rust,  which is like cancer to metal.)

 

Tires

 O  O

Do the tires have the same amount of tread, and is the wear even?

 O  O

Are all tires the same size?

 O  O

Are all tires the same brand?

 O  O

Is there a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench? If the vehicle has locking hubcaps, is there a key for removing them?

 O  O

Spare tire usable? (Press thumb firmly against sidewall- it should be firm.)

 

Suspension

 O  O

Does the vehicle lean to one side, or is it level?

 O  O

Check shock play by shoving hard downward on each corner. Do they respond the same? (Corners should only bounce once or twice before stopping.)

 O  O

Do you hear squeaking or grinding when you bounce the vehicle?

 

Frame

 O  O

Look for signs of repair inside wheel wells, trunk, and under the hood. Does metal appear have been crumpled and straightened?

 O  O

Look underneath each side of the vehicle for a row of holes in the frame just inside the vehicle's outer edge. If they are  scratched or recently cleaned, the frame may have  been straightened, like after a wreck that bent the frame.

 

Gas Cap and Filler Neck

 O  O

Make sure there's a gas cap that fits properly.  (If the cap locks, is there a key?)

 O  O

Remove the gas cap and check inside the filler neck. Does it show signs of having been gouged out, or enlarged?

 

Interior

 O  O

Do the seats, dashboard, and headliner look good? (Check for tears, extra wear, stains, and burns.)

 O  O

Do seats adjust freely?

 O  O

Are any handles, window cranks, door locks, dash controls or similar items broken or missing?

 O  O

Do all interior lights and dash bulbs work?

 O  O

Does carpet condition match the age of the vehicle?

 O  O

Does the carpet have the odor of mildew or stale water?  Could be a tip-off to leaks or even flood damage.

 O  O

Examine the top of the carpet under the dash. Are there stains that could mean heater core or AC leaks?

 

Bells, Whistles, and Gizmos

 O  O

Does everything work?  The heater, AC, stereo, and alarm system ought to work in every way.

 

Under the Hood

 O  O

Are there signs of oil or fluid leaks?

 O  O

Let the motor run until it reaches full operating temperature. Does anything smell peculiar? Look for fluids dripping onto hot engine parts?

 O  O

Are there unusual noises, such as clattering or metallic sounds, or sharp hissing, in the engine compartment when the engine is running? (Normal sound is smooth whirring of belts and fan.)

 O  O

Does anything appear to be missing? (Look for shiny or clean areas where parts may have been removed.)

 

Underneath

 O  O

Are there fluid leaks on the underside of the engine and transmission, at axle ends, at brake line connections, or on the ground beneath the vehicle? Green fluid is usually antifreeze; reddish fluid is usually power steering or transmission fluid; dark brown or black fluid is usually oil or brake fluid.

 O  O

Are any parts loose, with the exception of exhaust parts slung from flexible rubber straps?

 O  O

Does anything appear missing, such as bolts, clamps, brackets or cables?

 O  O

Are exhaust system parts rusty?

 O  O

Are there marks from scrapes, indicating the car has bottomed out on rocks or pavement?

 O  O

Examine exhaust when the car is operating at normal temperature. Do you see white or blue smoke? (Both can indicate an engine problem, especially if the smoke burns your eyes. A small amount of steam is normal, especially in cold weather.)

 

Performance

The Motor

 O  O

Does the engine start quickly and easily?

 O  O

Does the engine stall by itself?

 O  O

Does the engine idle smoothly?

 O  O

Does the idle speed seem too high or low ?

 O  O

Does the engine spit or sputter when you give it the gas?

 O  O

Does the engine run smoothly during operation?

 O  O

Does the engine seem weak?

 O  O

If the vehicle has cruise control, does it work properly?

 O  O

Do engine or other system warning lights come on?

 O  O

Does the engine diesel (continue running) when you switch it off?

 

Transmission (and Clutch)

 O  O

If automatic, does it shift smoothly and firmly?

 O  O

On a manual-shift vehicle, is take-off smooth, without slipping, grabbing or jerking?

 O  O

On a manual-shift vehicle, accelerate hard in a higher gear (third or fourth) or while going uphill. If engine revs up, but speed does not, the clutch could be slipping. It may need to be adjusted or replaced.

 O  O

On a manual transmission, shifting to a lower gear at low speed. Does the transmission shift easily, without hanging up?

 

4-Wheel Drive

 O  O

Engage 4-wheel drive only on soft surfaces unless the owner's manual specifically says the feature can be used on hard-surfaced roads. On a suitable surface, test-drive the vehicle in forward and reverse in 4-wheel drive. Is it smooth in both directions?

 O  O

Turn tight corners to the right and left. Are there clunking or scrubbing sounds or other noises?

 O  O

Do the wheels bind or pull, whether turning or going straight?

 

Brakes

 O  O

Mash the brakes several times at different speeds. Also try a sudden stop. Does the vehicle pull to one side?

 O  O

Do brakes stop the vehicle adequately?

 O  O

If the vehicle has antilock brakes (ABS), try stopping suddenly.
Do wheels lock?
Pulsing is normal.

 O  O

Does the parking brake hold firmly and release completely?

 

Steering

 O  O

Does the vehicle pull to one side during normal operation?

 O  O

Is steering difficult at any speed?

 O  O

Turn sharply in both directions. Do you hear clunking or other noises, or feel rubbing or binding?

 O  O

Does the vehicle shake or vibrate at highway speed?

 O  O

Is the steering wheel centered while the car is running straight?

 

 

 

In Conclusion:

Most importantly, does seller have clear title to vehicle? Don't get scammed by giving a person money for a car that's not his!

Is there evidence of flood damage?
This information should be on the title. Signs are upholstery and carpet stains, odor, rust in normally dry areas such as beneath the dashboard and inside the glove compartment, powdery green or white residue inside lowest electrical connectors.

Is the owners' manual in the vehicle? How about the operating instructions for any accessories, and any warranty information that still applies to items like tires and exhaust?

Check the title for the word "Salvage."

Are previous repair and service records available? (Complete records are a sign that the owner has taken good care of the vehicle.)

When buying from a dealer, reputations mean a lot.  Will he give you names of past customers that you could call?

 

 

 

 

 

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