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How to buy a used car

How to buy a used car - There are many things to look into before you even consider buying a vehicle.

 ~Before you buy~
- Current market value: Knowing how much a car is actually worth before you buy it can ensure that you don’t pay too much.
- Budget: How much are you willing to spend on a used car? Setting your limit beforehand and having the cash upfront means you can make a quick transaction when you find a car you like.
- Model: While a racy sportscar or a luxury vehicle seems like a good idea, they tend to require a lot more care and maintenance. Don’t overlook a smaller car just because you wanted something more trendy.
- Dealer: You don’t necessarily have to buy from a dealer, but doing so often allows you some protection in case the car turns out to be a lemon. Getting your money back from a person can be difficult, especially with the “buyer beware” law.

You’ll see the body of the car first, but do you know what to look for? The body of a car can usually be repaired, but if you don’t want to pay extra money (and you shouldn’t) for body work, then watch out for these signs:

- Blistered paint

- Rust and/or corrosion (pay attention to the window frames and beneath the doors)

- Weakness (if you press on a rusty area and it makes a cracking sound, steer clear)

- Ripples or mismatched paint (shows that the vehicle has had major bodywork, possibly due to a collision)

- Water stains, mould, or mildew on the seats, floors, or any other fabric-covered areas (might indicate that the car is leaking somewhere)

- Weak flooring

- Any signs of rust on the undercarriage

- Signs of welding or soldering

If you’re not familiar with what a car engine should look like, it may be prudent to have an engine-savvy friend accompany you. Signs to look for are:

- Excessive dirt on the engine

- Thick, black oil

- Discoloured coolant

- Leakage of any fluid

Make sure the tires are in good shape. Look for cracks or damage to the rubber as well as uneven wear and tear which could indicate problems with the suspension or steering.

When you start up the car, it should start easily without any lag or delayed engine turnover. Pay attention to the exhaust – it should be white, not blue or black. The car should idle low and there should be no lit warning indicators on the dashboard.

~Test drive~

Never buy a car that you can’t test drive first.

While driving, note the following:

- Steering should be smooth, not rocky or difficult to turn

- In a standard transmission, there should be no crunching or grinding sound when you switch gears

- Pay attention to how the car reacts to bumpy roads … note any odd sounds or excessive bouncing

- Stiff or spongy brakes

~Before you buy~
If the car has passed your inspection, there are still a few more things to request before you buy.

- safety certification

- service and repair history

- liens

- mileage

- ownership

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