27 Aug 2016
You've done the research and decided to purchase a used car. While buying a car, used or new, is an exciting experience, don't overlook these tips to ensure you get not only your money's worth, but also a complete peace of mind.
Proof of agreement
Print a copy of the used car advertisement as proof of agreement after contacting the owner or dealer for viewing. This prevents the dealer from altering the car's price or accessories provided at their discretion.
Go for a test drive
Drive the car on a straight, quiet road and release its steering to test its wheel alignment. Excessive noise from the tyres means the wheel bearings need to be replaced. Accelerate hard and ensure the gears shift smoothly.
Health and well-being
Check for signs of repairs, oil leaks, brakes, servicing records and whether it's accident free. Always seek a professional opinion on the car. Owners or dealers who are sure of the car's condition would have no objections to your request.
The car should never be repainted as this indicates signs of having been in an accident. Examine the car from various angles and look for wavy areas and uneven paintwork. Ensure the engine doesn't look too dirty as this indicates a leak. Pull out the engine oil dipstick; dark and dirty means it's due for servicing, while a creamy brown consistency is bad sign. Gun the ignition, turn on the air-conditioning and pay attention to sharp but whiny and abnormal sounds.
Vehicle log card
Request for a printed copy of the vehicle log card to confirm details such as vehicle, engine and chassis number, open market value, as well as the number of owners the car has had.
Get it checked
You've seen the car and would like an experienced mechanic to inspect it before purchase. Prepare a sales agreement and pay a deposit. Ensure the deposit is refundable should the car be in a condition worse than agreed upon.
Ask about the warranty
Check with the owner or salesperson that the dealership offers a warranty for the vehicle under the lemon law.