Anyone is trying to save these days, and if you are looking forward to buy a new car, a used vehicle might be the best option for you, right? In fact, you can still buy a reliable used-car for as low as $500 from private car dealers. Most of these cars have been in the service for many years and most probably looked like they will need a serious grooming. However, if their respective owners have carefully maintained them over the years, these cars could still provide a good and cheap transportation service for over five years just easily.
If you are planning to buy one, remember that most of these cars will have zero or very limited warranties extended to you. Also keep in mind that “lemon laws”, the set of laws that protects the buyers from repeated failures and damages, are not applicable to leased or used car purchases. Each state varies with its application of lemon laws, so make sure to check your state if you are being covered or not.
If you are still being persistent, it is good to know that there are ways you can do to protect yourself and enjoy a trouble-free used car driving.
Ask for the car’s maintenance records. If the previous owner is responsible, he should be able to give you the vehicle’s service records.
Test-driving the vehicle is essential. That is what we do regardless if it is a brand new or second-hand car. But just before hitting the pedals, make sure to check the following:
Shove down the hood firmly to check the car’s suspension and shocks. A good suspension will bounce once and not several times as compared to worn out parts.
Grasp one tire in the front and try to move it laterally. A “give” usually means a bad sign. Next, inspect the rubber boats if they are free from cracks. If you see some, go find another car because the chances of finding expensive front-end damages are imminent.
It is normal for older car models to leak some oil, but if you are seeing an abnormal amount of oil and other fluid leakage, then move on to the next vehicle. Some people use a white butcher paper on top of the oil pan to gauge how severe the leakage is.
Open the hood and check the belts, plug wires and hoses. If you see severely damaged belts, chances are that the vehicle did not receive proper maintenance. Also, you might want to check the radiator and see if it is free from oil. Presence of oil in the coolant means a cracked engine block.
Try to remove the plug wires temporarily and restart the engine several times. If the rhythm is uniform, then you got a good engine. Otherwise, it is indicating a compression leak caused by a damaged spark plug or burnt valve.
Replace the wires and restart the engine. At the first attempt, a well-maintained used car should be up and running. Keep it running for a few minutes, floor the accelerator and look for any signs of unusual smoke from the exhaust. White smoke means a problem in the fuel system; if it is burning oil, you will see a black or blue smoke, which is, by the way, not a very good sign.
If it is a manual vehicle, listen for any unusual sound while pushing the clutch. By doing so, you can tell any wear and tear of the parts in that instant.
Finally, it is a good idea to bring an experienced car mechanic, if you are not, for pre inspection purchases. Typically, they charge $50 to $100, but will definitely save you from unnecessary headaches and repair services in the future.