If you’re planning on buying a used car, there are a few things to consider.
There are no more $500 cars out there worth even thinking about. You’ll probably need to spend about $4000 or so for a good used car that’s about five years old with higher mileage. It’s easy to check for dents and scratches but there are a lot of other things to check before you buy.
With the price of used cars today you’re better off getting it checked by an experienced mechanic. We do that at the station and usually charge $25 for this service. It’s a small fee compared to the ramifications of buying a clunker with major damage that will cost you a fortune to fix later on.
We can’t look into the future and predict what will go wrong with the car, but we can see if there is structural damage from accidents, rust at critical locations, unusual engine noises, leaks under the car or improper repairs. We’ll take a look at the brakes, check the exhaust and tires for wear. It’s best if there are maintenance records showing regular oil changes. We also take the car for a ride to make sure the car feels right; transmission shifts right and engine runs smoothly.
If you’re buying from a dealer, ask for a carfax on the car. If he doesn’t have one you can subscribe to carfax for a limited time. This may save you from buying a car that was severely damaged or recovered from a flood. I’ve seen this a few times in my days. Cars just fall apart from rust to the point where they are unsafe to drive and not cost effective to fix.
One last item, if the seller refuses to let you take the car to a mechanic to get checked out don’t waste you time buying it. He’s hiding something. Don’t buy the car and get it checked out after the purchase. It’s too late then. Have it checked first.