Why do so many people get it so wrong when it comes to buying used cars and why do others always seem to get great deals. In this article we review some of the most important markers for both the dealership and the customer. At the end of the day a great car is the key to success for both parties. As a starting point it is very important to go back to the inspection report. This is where the sins and redemption of the deal are resolved. The inspection report is a mandatory requirement in many jurisdictions but even where it is not required, consumers must ensure that it is done. These are some basic rules.
1. The number plate must match: It may appear to be an obvious issue but often consumers have been sold used cars that are either stolen or tampered with in some other way. Some jurisdictions specifically forbid the alteration of vehicles because that can lead to safety concerns. Beware of the ‘cut and shut’ jobs where two different cars are essentially welded together by amateur industrialists. It could end up costing the consumer their life. The number plates could be tampered with for a number of reasons including the need to hide car crime or to export vehicles whose origin is not clear. At other times insurance write-offs are passed off as if they were bonafide reconditioned cars. As a rule of thumb, any abused car is likely to cause more problems than solutions.
2. The test drive: It is absolutely essential that the buyer tests the car preferably on different stretches of the road. Any dealership that creates difficulties when the customer requires a test drive is by logic hiding something. The test drive will normally highlight a number of difficulties or strong points. For example on the corners, a car should remain firm on the road. If the vehicle appears to be swerving at high speeds then obviously there is something seriously wrong that needs to be resolved. Of course it is important that the person driving the car is insured. The dealership should make these arrangements on a comprehensive package that is potentially open to all customers who walk in. Use a mixture of conditions including slow urban driving, fast motorways, twisted roads and even the reverse mode. Little things like excessive smoke and broken lights will help you to decide whether this is really the right car.
3. The bodywork is an indicator of a good or bad car: By definition used cars have seen the road. Therefore consumers should anticipate some level of wear and tear. It is important that inspections are carried out in good light. Corrosion or rust is a sure sign that all is not well. Cars that are over five years old are particularly prone to rust and this must be taken into consideration. Ignoring it might mean that the car disintegrates over time. Minor surface blisters can be ignored as long as they are not being deliberately hidden using paint or certain bodywork. If the corrosion is coming from inside the used car then there is every chance that there will be problems. The body panels are expected to be sound and passable. Of course it is important that you buy the car that you like. This is a combination of practical driving and pleasure. The areas that need to be given particular attention include the top and rear front wings. Side seals and areas below the bumpers (front and back) can also be vulnerable. Cracking noises are clear indicators of something wrong.
These are just three of the things that might be of interest to people who are buying used cars. This is an extensive subject that requires both technical and practical skills. It is absolutely essential that consumers are not afraid to ask for answers or clarification if they feel that there is something wrong with the vehicle that they are about to purchase. Early preparation and knowledge might save you from a complete breakdown on the road.
1. Extract,” Hints and Tips When Buying a Secondhand / Used Car”, accessed 28th May 2012, H&T
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