Buying a Used Car? Have a Professional Mechanic Inspect it First
In many cases buying a used car can be a good choice. Finding a pre-owned vehicle in good condition can often save you a good amount of money but beware – used cars can often have mechanical or other issues that aren’t instantly obvious. These could end up costing you money in the long run. So how do you avoid ending up with a clunker when buying a used car? There are many precautions you can take before making the purchase. The best one is to have a professional mechanic inspect it first.
What to Look for on Your Own
When checking out a used car, there are things you can look and listen for yourself. Never purchase a used car on face value alone. Inspect it to the best of your ability and whenever possible, have a professional mechanic inspect the car before you agree to buy it.
Check the Body
Begin with the obvious. Check the body of the car for dings, dents and other signs of damage. Also, keep an eye out for shade variation in the paint color. All of these could be signs the car was in an accident. It may have just been a minor fender bender or it could have been something more serious. Either way, if you find damage that may have been from an accident, it’s best to have it checked out by a professional mechanic. There could be more extensive damage you can’t see.
Of course, you want to see how the car handles, but a road test is about more than just how the car rides. Roll up the window and turn off the radio along with anything else that could be camouflaging telltale noises. Steer the car to the left and the right and listen carefully. Do the same when using the brakes. Any unusual noises could mean the brakes or the bearings are going bad. If you hear anything out of the ordinary, have it checked out by a professional mechanic.
Check the Mileage
The mileage can tell you a lot about how the car was driven by the previous owner. Average mileage per year for a personal vehicle is 12,000 to 15,000 miles. That means if the car you’re considering is three years old, it should have about 45,000 miles on it, give or take a couple of thousand. If the mileage is significantly higher, the previous owner may have had a long commute or used the car for business. It could have also been used by multiple family members, meaning more time on the road. High mileage means more wear and tear on the car with the potential for problems.
Pop the Hood
Even if you don’t know anything about car engines, there are still things you can check. Are the belts and hoses in good condition or are they frayed or cracked? Are there drip marks anywhere on the engine indicating leakage? These could be signs of a minor issue or something more serious. If you notice something that might be a potential problem, have it checked out by a professional mechanic.
Check the Fluids
The fluids are the lifeblood of a car’s engine. If they have not been kept at the proper level or changed as recommended, damage may have been done to the engine. Check the oil. It should be opaque but lighter in color. If it is dark and dirty looking, it means the oil changes have been neglected.
Check the transmission fluid. It should be a transparent pink. If it is dark or murky and has a burnt smell, there is a problem with the transmission which can be a costly repair. If any of this is evident in a used car you are thinking about buying, definitely have it looked at by a mechanic or look for a car elsewhere.
Have a Professional Mechanic Inspect the Car
Having a used car inspected by a professional mechanic before you buy it is alway the best way to go. They are the experts and they know what to look for and will be better able to identify a potential problem before it becomes obvious.
Car dealers are not required to allow used car inspection but most will if they are truly interested in making the sale. If they won’t allow an inspection, they may be hiding something and you might want to reconsider. The same theory applies if you are purchasing the car directly from the previous owner. If they won’t let you have it inspected, then you are probably better off just walking away.
Most reputable mechanics will perform used car inspections. There are typically two types of inspections. A basic inspection includes all of the things previously mentioned, but remember they are being evaluated by an expert. There is usually a charge for any used car inspection although if you have established a solid business relationship with your mechanic, they may perform a basic inspection for free.
A more in depth inspection involves putting the car up on a lift and taking the tires off. The charge for this type of inspection will be a little bit higher. According to Angie’s List members, a complete used car inspection can cost anywhere from $50.00 – $200.00. It is money well spent if it helps you avoid buying a car that is going to be nothing but trouble.
If you’re considering buying a used car and need a used car inspection, Holiday Service Center can take care of that, allowing you to make an informed decision about your purchase. Servicing the Toms River area for over 30 years, Holiday Service Center is an automotive repair station, gas station, and car service center.
Our staff of certified technicians is ready to take care of your used car inspection as well as regular car maintenance and repairs. As a fourth-generation family-owned business, we take pride in our exceptional service. We focus on building a relationship with the customer to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Contact us and schedule your car maintenance today!