When shopping for a used car, you have to distinguish between a good car and a bad car or else you will buy a “last owner” car that will prove to be a nightmare with all sorts of problems leading to frustrations within no time. The rule of thumb is to stick to your preferred vehicle. You should have at least three choices and start with the most desired one.
It’s good to be flexible, but sometimes if you are not careful you could find yourself falling for anything and everything on wheels.
Whether you are a first-time buyer or a regular car buyer, always have a second person accompany you for vehicle viewing. Two are better than one, or so they say.
A second eye would pick up something fishy that would not have been picked by one individual.
Below is a technical guide on how to go about buying a second-hand vehicle.
Prior knowledge of the vehicle model you want to purchase
For instance, if you aim to purchase a Subaru Forester SG5 nonturbo, do some background checks on the said model. Know the difference in trims (classes). All vehicles come in different classes. From the very basic trim to the extremely highest trim. People have found themselves buying basic trim cars when in real sense they needed higher trim. Make up your mind and settle for what you need then stick to it.
Once you have identified the trim that you need, find out the average market price. Due to the complexity and superiorities between different trims, prices may also vary. At least this will make you understand why bigger price margins exist across the trims. A Forester cross sports version will be more costly than a Forester X20 yet both cars are of the same year. Once this is understood, you will have an easy time navigating through the car market without problems.
Vehicle characteristics and handling
Try as much as possible to have a prior glimpse of the car you intend to buy and know how it handles. Look for a friend who has a similar car and let them give you their car for a test drive. Feel how it handles, if possible let them accompany you to viewing what you intend to buy. Just by looking around the car generally cranking up the engine, idling, driving, handling, acceleration and braking. They will tell if anything is strange because they have experience.
On purchasing a vehicle, there is more than what meets the eye but the fact is, crucial eye contact with the car seller can save you big time. The odometer is not tamper-proof so we can not rely on it fully. For this reason, we have to use our eyes to the fullest to pick up telltale signs in just what’s about to be a short forensic duty about the current odometer reading. -check out the driver’s seat padding, driver’s side floor mat(not the removable one), steering wheel, and driver’s side armrest. All these above mentioned will tell you so much about the usage of the vehicle unless it is a restored vehicle.
A driver’s seat above 200,000 km will be so weak and even tattered and so is the floor mat and the edges of the foot pedals.
Check out the vehicles underneath and look out for any deformation caused by knocks from rocks and pebbles. This would tell you a lot.
-Check out the sims and stitches on the chassis especially in the boot and bonnet sections for factory finish quality. Vehicles get rammed at the back and ram into others at the front. Any variations on the stitching should open your eyes further for any previous work done around the said area.
– Check the engine oil dipstick oil levels. by use of your fingers, wipe out the oil from the dip stick and rub it between your fingers to feel if it has any metal deposits. Some metal deposits are a sign of metal to metal contact. Crank up the engine and carefully listen for any unusual noises.
Pull out the dipstick while the car is running and look out for any smoke from the dipstick hole. Should there be smoke then that is called blowby which means the piston rings are worn. It’s a bargaining power for you.
-Check out for colour uniformity on all engine components and transmission parts. A difference in colour means a component has been changed. It could be a plus for you or a minus. Ask why the said component was replaced and keep any eye contact with the explainer. (follow your instincts)
-Check out all bolts and nuts, and look for any sign of a spanner on the edges of bolts and nuts. It lasts up to 5 months depending on where the car moves. This can reveal a lot.
-Carefully look at all the lights. And find out if one looks newer than the other or more faded than the other. lights are not just replaced without a reason. Open your eyes further and look for a sign of an accident on the said side that looks newer.
Drive the vehicle on the road with attention to how the gearbox shifts for auto transmission. Listen to engine revs vs gear shifting points for manuals, try and get a rough terrain, and listen to suspension relate to what you saw during inspection.
After you are content, now involve your technician. He is better placed than you and your friend. He will use his experience and expertise to give a detailed technical report on whether it’s a good car or not. Computer diagnosis should be a must.
Before transacting carry out a search from TIMS and involve your legal team to pick up the matter from here.
Until next time have a hustle free vehicle purchase.
By Vincent Saleh