What to look for when buying a second hand car?
There are quite a number of things one needs to consider when buying a used or second hand car. Here are but just a few points to get you’re thinking hat on. Remember, it is better to look at all the facts before making a decision when buying a second hand car.
The cars we drive say a lot about us - Alexandra Paul
Maintenance Plan and Service Plan
Some vehicles have very low mileages and are considered demo cars, these vehicles typically have a balance left of a maintenance or service plan. Having one of these plans actually protects you from the odd incident where you might have a mechanical break-down. The difference between the two is that a maintenance plan covers all mechanical breakdowns, repairs and regular services. A service plan typically only includes the serviceable items like break-pads, air-con, oil and air filters etc.
Look out for mismatched paint or huge gaps between adjoining panels. This could indicate that the car has been in a serious accident or just badly repaired. Also check if the paint is peeling off as this could lead to the panels rusting. Look out for overspray on window rubbers and door strips.
Ensure that the dash has not been tampered with and that the speedometer reflects the true mileage of the vehicle. If the mileage digits are skew or you can see obviously tool marks, rather stay away. Wear and tear of the seats, carpets dashboard should also be consistent with the vehicles mileage.
A dirty engine or frosting around the battery terminals could mean that the engine has not been maintained properly. Check for oil leaks in and around the engine bay, this could also mean that regular services did not occur. When starting a vehicle and there is a knocking noise from the engine area or blue or black smoke coming from the exhaust could indicate a really expensive fix, so avoid these vehicles. Let the vehicle stand on a clean surface for a while, if you see puddles of oil, break-fluid or coolant it could mean that the vehicle is not properly maintained and would require some repairing services first.
Take it for a Test Drive
Taking the car for a test drive is probably the most important step. Listen especially for knocking noises from the engine, idling sounds and drive train noise. Watch the temperature gauge and check if there are any warning lights flashing on the dash. Ensure that gear changing is easy and smooth and the clutch pedal isn’t too soft. Also check that the vehicle has no apparent break issue.
Remember having a certificate or having a 52-100 point check does not guarantee that the car is problem free, it just simply states that the vehicle meets the minimum statutory requirements in terms of safety, such as lights and breaks. It would not indicate that there is a problem with the engine.
Good luck and happy buying.