Thinking of buying a car? Whether it’s new or used, here are a few tips that are worth reading and applying to avoid any unpleasant surprises, especially when buying a used car.
As with many things, buying a car usually starts with an internet search. You’ll pay attention to different specifics depending on your needs: size, style, mileage, power, budget, comfort options, etc. Once you’ve settled on a particular model, you’ll scour the ads that meet your search criteria.
Contact the seller
Once you have found the rare pearl among the ads, if you wish to receive more pictures and more information on the vehicle you like, contact the seller by email or by phone, whether he is a private individual or a professional.
Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have, such as the reason for the sale, what are the recurring “diseases” for this type of model, etc. Also ask to see the maintenance booklet.
Ask for the vehicle’s information
Whether the seller is a professional or a private individual, if you are buying a used car, you can also ask to see the Car-Pass of the vehicle.
The Car-Pass includes the vehicle’s mileage history and allows you to follow the vehicle’s evolution in order to avoid any risk of fraud. The Car-Pass also includes the vehicle’s Euro standard as well as its CO2 emission rate, which can have an impact on your decision, since low emission zones are becoming more and more frequent.
Once you have all this information, it’s time to see the vehicle with your own eyes. The first thing to do is to check the vehicle identification number (VIN), also called the chassis number, and see if it matches. You will find this number behind the windshield or under the hood. It consists of a sequence of 17 letters and numbers.
Inspect the exterior of the vehicle
Now that you’ve checked the VIN, it’s time to inspect the vehicle from the outside. Is the overall condition of the vehicle good? Look out for rust, and poorly done repairs, and check the condition of the tires and make sure they are all similar, or at least on the same axle.
Also check for the presence of the spare tire, and that it is properly inflated. Ask to open the engine compartment, and check the general condition of the engine block. Are there any suspicious marks? Or does the engine look too clean?
Also check the joints between the different parts of the car, especially the hood, the doors and the trunk, they must be straight.
Inspect the interior of the vehicle
Once you’ve checked the exterior of the vehicle, move on to the interior. Test all the equipment and make sure everything is working properly. Next, pay attention to any odors coming from the vehicle: musty, moldy or fuel. This can often be a sign of a bad vehicle maintenance. Also look at the condition of the interior fabrics or leathers.
Take a test drive
Now it’s time to get behind the wheel and take it for a test drive! The engine should be cold when you start it. Once started, does the vehicle not jerk? Also try starting in second gear with the handbrake on to check the clutch. If you stall, the clutch does not need to be changed.
Do the brakes engage immediately when you put them on? Are they noiseless? Does the vehicle drive straight? Does the steering wheel not pull in one direction when you let go? Does the steering not vibrate? Do you hear any strange noises? Don’t hesitate to test all the gears and push the engine up a bit to make sure there’s no smoke and that the full power of the engine is present.
Also, check the dashboard regularly to make sure no lights are on. Allow at least 20 minutes of test driving to check all this out, and to get a feel for the vehicle. It’s even better if you’re accompanied by someone who knows about cars.
If after all these points of attention, you are convinced, the time has come to think about buying the vehicle, or to negotiate according to possible costs to be expected.
Do you want to buy a new car from stock? Of course, the vast majority of these tips don’t apply, since it’s a new car.