Empower Yourself: A checklist for purchasing a second-hand vehicle
Just because you don’t know your spark plugs from your pistons doesn’t mean there’s not a lot you could be doing in order to ensure you’re not getting ripped off when buying a used vehicle. Remember: the kind of dealer you want to be buying a second-hand vehicle from is the kind of dealer who won’t have a problem with you checking out the car yourself! Be sure to tick the following 5 points off your inspection list before committing to buying a second-hand vehicle:
1. Make sure the car is parked on level ground.
This will make it easier for you to inspect all the tires (check whether the vehicle comes with a spare!), and check whether or not the car sags questionably in any area or direction.
2. Do an exterior examination.
Walk around the car a few times and inspect the body of the car. Has the car been resprayed (this could indicate a stolen vehicle if you’re buying from a private seller as opposed to buying your used vehicle through an accredited second-hand car dealership)? Are there any chips in the paint? Is there any evidence of rust? Are there any dings, dents or peeling rubber around the doors and windows? Are the windshield wipers intact? Do the windshield wipers have new (or adequate) blades?
3. Do an interior examination.
Was the previous owner of the car a smoker? Is there any damage to the upholstery? Are there any stains on the upholstery? Are all the seatbelts functional?
Pro tip: Check the boot of the car for any signs of water damage that could indicate a leak. The wear and tear on the interior of the boot will also give you a good indication of the way in which, and the frequency with which, the vehicle was used.
4. Pop the hood.
Do have a look under the hood of the car even if you can’t tell a bolt from a battery. You don’t need to know the function of the part to identify whether or not the part is rusty, damaged or dented – these are all bad signs.
5. Always, always insist on a test drive!
Some problems simply can’t be picked up until the car is moving. It is well within your rights to request a test drive of any second-hand vehicle for which you hold a valid driver’s license card.