You’ve finally found a used car that you would love to have. You love the way it looks, it has great reviews and it’s in your price range! Now all you have to do is figure out if the car is going to be reliable. Here are five ways to check the reliability of a used car.
1. Check the Service Records
Asking for the service record of the car you are looking at will provide the information you need to confirm that the vehicle has been properly cared for. Some basic things to look for include regular oil changes, tire rotations and air filter replacements. Also check to see if the car had any major work done either mechanically or body wise.
2. Run A Carfax Report
Another way to check the reliabilty of a used car is to run a CarFax – or other similar – report. This will give you the history of a car, letting you know if the car has been in an accident or if there are any other potentially worrisome events in its history. While some dealerships will run the report for you, for other dealerships (or if you’re buying for a private seller) you can run the report yourself.
3. Closely Inspect the Appearance
When checking the reliability of a used car, carefully inspect the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Make sure it is free of scratches, dings, dents, mismatched paint, bonding materials, and rust. All of these could be signs that the car has been in an accident or was not well taken care of.
Open and shut the windows, doors, hood, and trunk to ensure they close properly and the seal is tight. Inside you’ll want to check that the seats are not overly worn, ripped or torn. Check to make sure the dashboard is not cracked or scratched, and that the console is in good shape. Make sure all instruments, such as the speedometer, and all notification lights work, too.
4. Test the Tires
The tires on any vehicle should always be in top shape. Look for any bumps, bulges or other damage. Inspect the tread, too. Simply slip a penny into the treads of the tire so Abe is facing you. Once inside the tread, if the top of Abe’s head is still visible, the tread is worn and the tire needs to be replaced.
Make sure to check all four tires, and keep in mind that if they are not the same, this could be a sign that the previous owner skipped tire rotations or that the wheels are not aligned. Don’t forget to check the spare, too.
Be aware if you find that the tires are worn, but the mileage is oddly low. Talk with the sales rep to find out why as this could be that the car was a rental or used by the media to conduct reviews. Worse, the odometer could have been altered.
5. Have the Car Inspected
Having the vehicle inspected by a trustworthy, unbiased mechanic is an important part of checking the reliability of a used car. While you can run a basic visual check of the engine and frame on your own, you still need a mechanic to take a look under the car and run some basic tests. Do this even if the seller insists there are no mechanical defects or major issues.
When it comes to buying a used car, reliability is a must. While doing these five things can help you determine the reliability of a used car, the absolute best thing you can do to protect yourself is to buy the car from a reputable dealership.
Most major dealerships thoroughly inspect their used cars. Plus, you can often purchase an extended warranty or even buy a certified preowned vehicle. These vehicles are inspected and repaired (if needed) by a trained mechanic, and come with a limited warranty added by the dealership.
Reedman Toll Auto Group, for example, has a huge selection of certified preowned vehicles. Buying a used car that is certified preowned will go a long way in providing peace of mind.
Image courtesy Stephen Clarkson via Flickr