How to Make Sure a Used Car is Safe
There are certain things you need to look into more when you’re looking at a used car rather than a new car. You want to make sure it’s not going to break down but you also want to make sure it’s safe. Here’s what to look out for to make sure a used car is safe before buying.
Check Safety Ratings
Before deciding on a used car you should always check safety ratings. First check ANCAP ratings if you’re in Australia. ANCAP ratings are based on data from tests performed in a crash lab. You’ll also want to check UCSR (Used Car Safety Ratings) which is based on data from real world crashes. Always look for cars with the best safety ratings – the more stars the better.
Check the Paperwork
Next you should make sure the paperwork is all in order. To ensure the vehicle is safe, you’ll need to match the VIN number, date of manufacture, engine number (marked on the engine itself) and number plates with those on the registration papers. If the information doesn’t perfectly match up, it could mean that the car has been stolen or that the engine has been replaced without notifying the registration authority. You’ll also need to check if you should receive a certificate of roadworthiness as the seller is required to provide it in some states.
Check under the Hood
Before purchasing a used car you should check for signs of wear or damage under the hood. Look at the dipstick. Any grey or milky oil could mean serious engine problems. Take apart the radiator cap to check the coolant. It should be bright and clean. If you spot any oil in the coolant, this may indicate serious engine problems. You should also check the radiator cooling fans, the battery and its mounting platform for corrosion or other damage.
Check inside the Car
Apart from checking under the hood, you’ll also need to check inside a used car for damage. The first thing you should do is make sure the seatbelts are in good condition. Any fraying and they will need to be replaced. Seatbelts also need to be replaced after a crash. If possible, check for signs of rust under the carpet under the front and rear seats and in the boot.
Take it for a Test Drive
Before buying, you’ll also want to take the car for a test drive to check for any serious safety issues. Before driving off, start the engine and let it idle with the hood open. Watch out for any exhaust fumes. Open the filler cap. Fumes may indicate serious engine problems. Once you’re off, watch the dashboard for any warning lights and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Listen for any rattling noises and if possible drive over speed humps to help check for any issues. Check the brakes and for misaligned steering. The steering wheel shouldn’t have more than 5cm of play.
If All Else Fails
If all else fails and you’re not certain whether your car is safe, check with a certified mechanic. They will be able to tell you if anything needs fixing or replacing and whether the car is deemed roadworthy. It’s always a good idea to run a car past a certified mechanic before buying.