When you are on the lookout for a used car, it’s easy to notice how big the price difference between the same models can be. Let’s say the cost of your selected car varies between 4000 and 9000 euros. The difference between the cheapest and the most expensive choice is enormous, but both sellers state that their cars are in good condition. Well, this isn’t true in most cases.
Some used cars have a low price for a reason, and you need to figure it out. Knowing about the most common used car problems is the key to buying a good car for a small price. So, what can a low price tell about a particular vehicle?
Only the top-of-the-line cars are made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Steel dominates the car industry, and while it’s cheap and easy to work with – steel also corrodes as hell when exposed to oxygen and water. All manufacturers use galvanized steel to protect it from rusting, but all protective layers can be easily damaged with a single deep scratch – that’s one of the ways for corrosion to occur.
Carefully inspect the whole body, especially the lower parts, such as wheel arches, doors, trunk. Areas around the windshield and sunroof seals are also prone to corrosion. Remember that rust is hard to get rid of, especially on non-replaceable body panels. Better avoid than fix them.
There are thousands of possible mechanical problems, and repairing them can often be more expensive than the car itself. You won’t be able to predict all of them – even a professional mechanic couldn’t see, let’s say, that the crankshaft is going to break tomorrow. Yet, you still can avoid many engine, transmission, and suspension problems just by paying some extra attention to specific details:
Be aware that suspension is usually way cheaper to fix than engine or transmission.
First of all, what is “high” mileage? It depends on how old a particular car is because applying the same rule for 5 and 25-year-old cars isn’t fair. But the problem is that sellers often try to hide the real mileage from buyers by faking it.
It is safe to assume that an average driver makes about 20 000 km a year. So a 10-year-old car with more than 200 000 kilometers on its odometer seems fair, but 20 000 km or even 50 000 km is not convincing.
There are two main reasons for taking your car to a body shop – corrosion or a car accident. Usually, anything can be fixed after a car accident, but most people want to save money on repairs by skipping on crucial safety requirements and sell the car as soon as possible. You can never be confident about your safety in such vehicles.
Check all gaps between panels and doors – they should be nice and even. Look for dents, suspicious welds, and damaged areas around the engine and inside the trunk.
Uneven gaps, bent body panels, and rust in unusual places are signs of poor quality bodywork.
There’s a strong reason to test all electronics before buying any vehicle. Modern cars have dozens of control units responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of electrical systems. Professional automotive electricians charge lots of money, and you’ll probably need their services if there’s anything more than a blown fuse or burnt light bulb in your car’s electrical system.
Test all electrical windows, heated seats, climate control, wipers, lights, MP3 player, navigation, and all other systems you can see – any problems you find can help you get a better deal.
When you have all the money you need for a car you’ve always wanted, it’s easy to feel the urge to “buy and hope that everything will be ok.” People often sell their cars because of the problems they don’t want to deal with, so you shouldn’t take big risks.
Thanks to modern technology, you can actually find out why a particular car is so cheap even before checking it out – CheckCarDNA history reports will bring some secrets to the daylight. For example, you’ll see a car’s mileage or accident history just by entering its VIN number!
And don’t forget to do a bit of research on your preferred model, because each of them has its own common problems. It’s much easier to find them when you know what to look for.