Shopping for a used car can be overwhelming at times. There are thousands of cars out there but which one is the right one for you? No need to start with the stress relieving techniques yet, there’s a way to make all of this easy. We have prepared some tips and suggestions of what to look for when looking at a used car.
Let’s say you’ve done your research and you’ve narrowed your choice down to a used 2012 Ford Fusion. From there you look to find one online during your free time. Using Autotrader, you find a local dealer, with great reviews, and they have two Fusion’s that are both 2012’s and have similar mileage. Now before you jump right in because you’ve played a game of “eenie meenie miney moe” to decide which one is best, there are a few things to take into account. The main thing you should have in your head is that no two used cars are alike. Each car has lived its own life and has its own stories. While one car may have lived a tough life on the streets, the other may have been cozy in a heated garage. What matters to you is the condition of the car.
At a glance both cars are the same, but there are a few major details that set them apart. First and most obvious characteristic, car 1 is blue and car 2 is silver. Car 1 is also an SE model and car 2 is an SEL model with a few more features. Car 1 has sports seats and a sports package, while car 2 is basic in that regard. These details basically come down to whether or not you want/need features like that. What is important, however, is looking at the exterior. Do a quick walk-around and check the body for any scratches, dents, or blemishes in the paint. Look out for rust spots underneath and in seams. Check the rims to see if they have scuffs or dents. While looking at the wheels, check the tires too. Make sure they all match and have a good amount of tread left.
Open the doors and trunk to see if there in any signs of damage through the paint of the door jams. Make sure the doors open and close smoothly. Inside the vehicle, look for any rips/cracks in the seats, and make sure that they can move freely. Seatbelts should be tested as well as the knobs, buttons, and windows. All gauges should light up properly and the power controls should be in working order. Air conditioning and heating systems are sometimes commonly overlooked when buying a car, so check to make sure the air is blowing at the proper temperature without any strange noises or smells. In cars equipped with a sunroof, check the headliner for signs of water damage as this can be an indicator of a leak or a prior accident. All weather-stripping around windows and doors should be consistent and not dried out or cracked.
Next up, start the engine. It should fire up right away and rev a little higher to warm up if it’s cold. Any hesitation, smells, or smoke is a bad sign. Smells and smoke are more apparent from the exhaust, and are noticeable. This could indicate the car having a leak or overheating. Check the gauges in the vehicle to make sure everything is consistent. Then after the engine has warmed up for a bit, take it for a spin.
So far these two vehicles are passing these tests flawlessly. Stay tuned for part two of our pre-purchase inspection checklist to find out what to look for when driving the vehicle!