Buying a used car: Steps to take before and after

Forget the sob stories you hear on the streets about the risks involved in buying used cars. Many of the cars you see on the roads today were purchased as used vehicles.

According to Statista, approximately 39.3 million units of used vehicles were sold in the US in 2020 alone. You can imagine what the number is right now.

My point being?

Buying used cars is still a thing. You just need to go about it the right way. And by the right way, we mean following a detailed guide and instruction.

In this post, we will share with you the steps you need to take before and after buying a used car.

Steps to take before buying a used car

When you speak with people who have bought used cars in the past, one of the few things you’ll hear them complain about is the issue of regular car repair.

It is a common theme to find used cars developing faults almost immediately after purchase.

To make sure your case isn’t like that, follow these INSPECTION steps. 

You’re advised to hire a mechanic while going to inspect a used car.

Body inspection

  • Inspect the interiors: A tattered-looking interior clearly shows that a car hasn’t been properly used. Therefore, you want to inspect the following parts carefully: upholstery, carpeting, pedals, dashboard, steering, controls & accessories, lights, etc.
  • Check for the essential tools: A well-maintained vehicle should come with essential tools like the owner’s manual, spare tire, toolbox, etc.
  • Look for dents on the exterior: Take a keen look at the body parts and see if you find dents, scratches, or areas that don’t quite match the color of the rest. This can point to a badly used car.
  • Check collision history: You can tell whether a car has been involved in a collision before by looking closely at the body panels. Paint looking scratched with an orange peel-like feeling on the hand is a good indication.
  • Tire inspection: You can tell about a car’s mileage and alignment by looking at the threading on the tire edges. Any sign of threading wear out could point to bad alignment.

Hood Inspection

The hood of a car is where the real work is because that’s the engine’s home. So, follow these steps for proper inspection.

  • Dipstick inspection: Draw out the dipstick and check the oil flow on it. If the car is in a good state, the oil should appear honey-like. Black-colored motor oil indicates a badly-maintained car. 
  • Check for part replacements: You can tell if a part has been replaced recently. These kinds of parts usually appear shiny and newer than the rest. If you find such a part, find out why the replacement was done. A good car showroom should give you a significant reason why that was done.
  • Inspect engine fluids: Besides the motor oil, you also want to inspect the brake fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant. Coolant should appear bright, transmission fluid should appear reddish, and brake fluid should appear yellowish.

Driving inspection

Ok, now you’ve inspected the car detailing, and you’re satisfied. What’s next? To test drive. To do that, follow these steps:

  • Listen for awkward sounds: If you’ve driven a car before, you should be able to tell when a car is making some weird sounds. So, drive around and listen for chunks, clanks, or any sound you’re not used to hearing cars make.
  • Listen for vibrations: Take the car out on a highway and drive around. If you feel any vibrations in and around your driving, there could be something off with the tire balance.
  • Watch out for transmission problems: It can cost a fortune to resolve transmission problems. Therefore, you want to inspect the car carefully for anything that could point to that. To go about that, you simply have to drive around for a while, accelerate and decelerate constantly, then note the shifts. If the car is in good condition, the shifts should be smooth.
  • Check for sudden responses: Test drive the car at 50 mph. Drive for a while and do a hard stop. If the car is in a good state, it should stop in a straight line. But if it isn’t, the wheels would lock up, or the car would pull up to one side.

After Purchase procedure

Now that you’ve confirmed that the car is in a good place and you’ve decided to buy, how do you ensure it stays that way for long?

Follow these steps

  • Use strictly synthetic motor oil: The best way to keep your high-mileage vehicle running with no issues is to embrace synthetic motor oil. Traditionally, it was believed that synthetic oil caused leaks. But that’s no longer the case. Now, their low- and high-temperature viscosity performance allows them to flow smoothly through the engine, enabling performance all year round.
  • Look into the transmission fluid: Ask your mechanic or a transmission specialist whether or not to change the transmission fluid that’s currently in the automobile. If you’re told to change the fluid, be sure to ask for the right brand of fluid to change to.
  • Regularly rotate the tires: You should rotate your car tires from time to time to ensure an even wear of all of them. Without doing this, you may find some tires wearing out faster than others.
  • Wax the car: To give your car a really shiny surface finish, waxing the surface is always advisable. This will also protect it from the harsh rays of the sun.
  • Follow the advice of the previous owner: If you’re buying the car from someone, you should ask for some useful tips on how they’ve managed to maintain the car until now. Usually, they should have some driving and maintenance tips for you. 

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