Buying a car is a big purchase for anyone whether you are buying new or used. Typically when you buy a new car you have the peace of mind that you will not have any costly repairs or maintenance services in the near future. However, when you buy used that is not the case because you do not know the previous owner(s) and how the vehicle was driven and maintained. That is why pre-purchase inspections are so important! Any reputable dealership or private seller will allow you to take a vehicle to your mechanic for inspection. The small cost of a pre-purchase inspection could save you thousands in the long run. We have prepared a list of things you can look for yourself while shopping for a used vehicle.
Paint: The most noticeable exterior feature of a vehicle is its paint. If the used car you are looking at has major paint flaws than this can be a red flag. Repainting a vehicle can become a very costly repair. To inspect the vehicle’s paint walk around it carefully examining the paint for scratches, cracks, and dents. Finding some scratches on a used vehicle is normal and typically minor scratches can be buffed out. However, some scratches may be too deep and may require the area to be repainted. Cracks such as spider or stress cracks typically must be repainted. Dents usually come in a variety of shapes and sizes some can be repaired with PDR (paintless dent repair) while others will require the area to be repainted.
Tires: When buying used it is typical to see some wear on the tires. However, you should still inspect each of the 4 tires for remaining tread life and look for signs of dry rotting. It is also a good idea to check for a spare tire and its condition as well.
Windshield/Windows: Look over the windshield and windows for any cracks or chips. Even when cracks and chips are repaired as time passes they can still spread across the windshield or window and need replacement. If a crack in the windshield goes through the driver’s field of vision this can cause it to not pass inspection.
Power windows/locks: There is nothing more frustrating than rolling your window down to find that it won’t go back up. Make sure to roll down and up each window to make sure that the power windows are working correctly. You will also want to make sure that all of the doors lock correctly when using the lock button that is in the vehicle and the one on the key fob if you have one. While checking the locks you may also want to check any other buttons that your key fob may have such as unlocking the trunk. Also, don’t forget to ask if they have both sets of keys.
Lights: Depending on the vehicle’s lights they can be costly to replace. Some headlights and tail lights may require removal of the bumper or other parts which can be an unexpected cost for your pocket book. When looking over the vehicle make sure to check your daylight running lights, headlights, tail lights, blinkers, and brake lights to ensure they are all in working order. Other lights to check include the interior dome light and any ambient lighting the vehicle may have.
Courtesy Options: When inspecting the vehicle make sure to check all of the special features or courtesy options to ensure they are in working order. Such as your radio, heated or cooled seats, backup camera, and cruise control. Most of these special features are electrical and can be costly to repair.
Maintenance Items: There are several maintenance items that you will want to check under the hood. Depending on the age and mileage of the vehicle some of these items may need attention. Such as your belts, hoses, air filter, cabin filter, and engine oil. If you are unsure or uncomfortable checking these items yourself your ASE certified technician will look over all of these when performing a pre-purchase inspection.
Transmission: While test driving the vehicle you will want to take note of how smoothly it transitions from gear to gear. If you notice any jerks while accelerating or slowing down this could be an indication of transmission problems or other issues. This is an item that your pre-purchase inspection will look at carefully for you.
Steering/Suspension: When test driving there are a few signs that you can look for to check the vehicle’s steering and suspension. The most obvious sign you may notice while driving is vehicle pulling to one side. You will also want to take note of how bumpy the ride feels and if there are any clunks or rattles.
Brakes: A vehicle’s brake system is vital for your safety. While test driving make sure to test the brakes at several different speeds. You will want to check for any shaking while braking, a spongy feeling when pressing the pedal, or if you have to press the pedal all the way to the floor. These are signs that your brake system may need a repair or replacement.
Air Condition: Having a working AC in the San Antonio area is important to keep you comfortable in your vehicle, especially during the summer time. When you test driving the car make sure to turn on the AC and take note of how cold it gets and how long it takes to blow cold.
This list covers the basics that any driver can check for. However, many things on this list may require a deeper look. There are also other things that an ASE certified auto technician will check for that are not easy for the average car buying customer to check such as the engine, drivetrain, and more. A pre-purchase inspection is a small cost that can save you a lot of money in the long run. To schedule yours today or to learn more give us a call at (210)490-6552.