Things To Consider When Buying A Second-Hand Car

Buying a used car is usually a daunting task that vehicle owners or would be car owners have to undergo sometimes in their lifetime. In this simple guide, we outline some of the key things to consider when buying a second-hand car.

Now, most people get sentimentally attached to their cars, and given an option, they would prefer staying with their cars forever and never sell them. Unless one is a dealer, a few people would want to sell their cars if they developed a mechanical problem.

This already makes you want to be wary. But we’ve got you covered in this guide as you now have a near fool-proof checklist against which you could get way ahead of the curve against cons.


Vehicle History Check

Checking vehicle history is such a huge step you would never want to skip. This is chiefly because you could just discover a whole lot of red flags and safety issues in the car you are about to buy.

First, you could find out if the vehicle has an outstanding car loan on it even as the owners are putting it up for sale.

The other problem is that you are likely to find out if the vehicle has been involved in serious accidents in the past or even if they were written off.

If you are a law-abiding citizen like most people and you wouldn’t want to go through the experience of finding out later that the car you bought was stolen, then you will check the car's history.  
Usually, checking your car history does not set you back as much as dealing with the investigators who may catch up with you.

Establish the Value of the Car

Now, like everyone else, you wouldn’t want to get less for more. So, you should do your own research about the value for similar used cars on different e-commerce websites.

This research will kind of give you a much-needed heads-up when it comes to haggling for a cut.

However, this research may not be conclusive as vehicles are different and this means you will somehow have to physically assess the condition of the car before you actually commit.

Physical Car Inspection

Physical Car Inspection

It goes without saying that you should physically inspect your car before you close any deal. Now, some of the unwritten rules in inspecting a car are:

  • Avoid Rainy days: Avoid scheduling inspection on rainy days. This is mainly because under dim lights, you may not have a proper view of the bumps and scratches on the car.
  • Avoid Viewing at Night: Viewing used cars at night also has the same disadvantage that you may miss important red flags in the vehicle that would otherwise turn you off.
  • Also, this time of the night may be unsuitable for test-driving since most drivers wouldn’t want to risk in such conditions.

While undertaking an inspection, you should book a test drive. Now, while at it, you should watch out for any defects on the steering wheel, the brakes and the gears.

Also, many people tend to get a secondhand car without looking into the condition of the paint job because they are focused on other things that are more important to them. If you find out that the paint job is in bad condition, there are a few ways to fix it. You can purchase touch up paints that match the car's exact color. As much as it is easy to do yourself, you can also avoid the expensive car costs.

Also of note is that you should ensure your car insurance allows you to drive another person’s car with his/her permission.

Find the Car Owner's Manual

One of the most ignored checks is the car owner’s manual. This document is very important as it lets you into the parts of the car that you could miss if you only took a quick spot check.

You should never leave it entirely on the car seller to provide the manual as it may have been lost or damaged depending on how careful they were. You could access websites like to get an idea of the car before you even see it physically.

Check for Clocking

Some sellers are cunning and may want to sneak away a few thousand miles from the odometer to increase the value of the car. To ensure you are safe from this malpractice, always observe the car based on the year of manufacture. If you feel that something is amiss, chances are it could be.

Check for cuts and Shuts

To avoid being a victim of cut-and-shut (a situation where two or more vehicles previously involved in an accident are illegally welded together.)

But you have one advantage over this. A physical examination of under the carpets, paintwork or the shape of the car could let you know this. Any irregular weld should raise your suspicion.

Check the Tires

While tires in themselves wear out regularly, the pattern in the wearing out could indicate a whole new problem in the car that you could miss from simple observation.

Irregular tire wear could mean the wheels are improperly aligned, and could result in more parts being damaged.

Vehicle Registration Number

One thing you actually never want to miss is the vehicle registration number. This number can be found at the base of the windshield, just below the carpet of the driver’s seat and under the bonnet.

You should ensure that the registration number on the vehicle log book is the same as the one on these three areas.

From the vehicle registration document, you are also able to see the previous vehicle owners of the car you are about to buy.

Check for Locks and Windows

Another important thing is to check the car windows and locks for any signs of burglary. If you notice that the locks are different, it could be a glaring sign that the car has been broken into in the past.

Also observe the condition of the windows and the sunroof (if any) before you actually settle down on the car of your choice. If it has been broken into in the past, it means it could be done again.

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