That car looks great sitting on the lot. You’ve driven by it several times, and you are certain it is calling your name. Is it really a good, dependable car to own? Or is it a lemon that you should avoid? Here are some tips to ensure that your dream car will last much longer than it takes to drive it off the lot:
Find out how old the car is
The car may look good, but if it is too old, it may already have seen its prime, and may not be worth purchasing.
Find out the mileage
The more mileage a car has, the more likely it is to breakdown and cost you more money in repairs later.
Check to see how many owners the car has had
The more owners, the more erratically the car has likely been driven.
Ask to see service records
Once you have a chance to review the service records, you will be able to see how often the oil has been changed, tires balanced and rotated, as well as any leaks or other repairs that might have befallen your beloved vehicle.
Check the car for rust, dents, and scratches
Most used cars are going to have some evidence of their use. Ask the salesperson if the car has been wrecked beyond what is visible.
Take the car to your favorite mechanic
Auto dealers who know you are serious about buying a car will not mind if you take the vehicle to your mechanic for a quick engine check.
Open the hood yourself
Check to see that the cables are in good shape, there are no leaks, the spark plugs are new and functional, and that the oil is clean. These are good signs that the dealership has already prepped the car for sale.
Take the car for a test drive
While out on an open road, press the gas pedal to the floor to check and see if it chokes or lurches at full throttle. If it does, take the car back and have the dealer look at it to ensure there’s nothing seriously wrong with the car.
Test the inside of the car
Make sure the windows roll down properly, the A/C and the heat work (on high), test the stereo to ensure the speakers work well and that the CD/cassette deck work, look for rips/tears in the upholstery, check turn signals, lights, etc.
Test the brakes
While out test driving the car, first, check to ensure no one is behind you, and then take the car to a high rate of speed before popping the brakes. This will help you determine their condition and how well the car handles when hitting the brakes quickly.
Older cars have great qualities, and can be great, reliable transportation for a reasonable price. Take the extra time to ensure that your new “gently used” vehicle is not a lemon, and you will be able to enjoy it for years to come.