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What to look for when buying a used car

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

If you are looking to buy a car, safety should be the first thing you pay attention to. This is especially the case when you are considering a used car as an option. There's certain feature and things you should note. That is why our accident attorneys have compiled a list of things to check before buying a used car.

Why are car prices so high?

If you have been looking for a car post pandemic, you know how difficult it's been. With the shortage of car microchips, the options have been slim and the prices extremely high. A new car can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months to get, if you're lucky. Therefore, now more than ever, a used vehicle seems more appealing.


Here is a list of things to check before purchasing a used car:


1. Assess the Car

This may seem like an obvious task, but it takes a lot more than a once over glance. In order to thoroughly asses the vehicle, you’ll need to check both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.


2. Exterior Checks

In order to make sure you have fully checked the exterior of the car work in sections. For example, start with checking the body of the car for any dings, scratches, dents, or marks of rust. Then ensure that there are no cracks in any of the glass on the car and lastly, ensure the suspension, lights, and tires are all in workable condition.


3. Interior Checks

For this check, ensure that the car doesn't have any strange odors. Then have a look at the pedals, instruments, controls, trunk and sound systems to see if they work properly.


4. Engine Checks

You need to ensure that all hoses work correctly, no belts are worn or are in need of changes. Lastly, check the radiator and make sure it works correctly.


5. Check for fluid leaks

If the car is leaking fluid at all, that is usually a red flag. Black fluid indicates an oil leak. Green, yellow, pink or white fluid usually is indicative of an antifreeze issue. Red fluid means there is an issue with transmission or power steering fluid. Therefore, any liquid at all is not a good sign.


5. Take it for a Test Drive

This is probably one of the best ways to determine whether a car is in good condition or not. The first thing you’ll want to do is turn the key so that the car is in accessory mode. This should show all the warnings lit up, if not you may want to ask for that to be repaired before purchasing the vehicle. If you ever have an accident, you need to know that your car will indicate any issues.


6. Check the mileage

You may be inclined to think that a low mileage means that the car is good, but it could also just mean the car isn't used a lot. If it is not frequently used, this could cause the rubber and plastic parts of a car to dry out or get brittle. This could mean the car needs numerous repairs and reconditioning. The most important thing to consider when looking at mileage is the maintenance and usage overall of the car.


7. Have it checked by a mechanic

This is a smart move due to the fact that these are individuals who are constantly scrutinizing and fixing cars. The dealership you are purchasing should have no issues with you doing so.


8. Check the Cars VIN number

The cars VIN number can show any recalls on the car or if any repairs are needed due to safety calls. Another great place to check that VIN to see what the car has been through are sites like Carfaxs.


9. Consider a certified pre-owned

When picking a used car, you may want to consider a certified pre-owned vehicle. This means it is a used vehicle which a dealership has inspected and deemed drivable. The other bonus you get from purchasing a car this way is the dealership usually offers a warranty on the car as well.


Make sure you are asking the right questions

Even after you have done all of that, make sure you are asking the dealership or person you are purchasing the car from the right questions.


Some of these questions can include:

  • Do you have service/maintenance records for the car?

  • How many owners have had the car?

  • Does the vehicle have a clean title (beware of salvage – includes flood cars and rebuilt titles)?

  • Does the vehicle come with a warranty? How much of that warranty is left? If you’re at a dealer, can you purchase an extended warranty?

  • Is there a customer satisfaction return window? How long?

  • How many keys come with the vehicle? Remember, during the microchip shortage, additional keys, even for used cars, may be hard to come by.

  • Are the owner’s manuals in the car? Check and make sure for yourself. Owner’s manuals are the “bible” for your car, and provide all the information you need on how to properly operate your vehicle and when to service it. If you buy from a dealer and the car you want to buy doesn’t have manuals, make a new, free set of manuals part of the deal.

  • Are the spare tire and jacking tools present and in good shape?

  • Does the vehicle have floor mats? In used vehicles, these are often stored in the trunk/hatch area to keep them clean for the new buyer.

Why are these things important to know and how does this prevent accidents?

As accident attorneys, we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that you are aware of what to look for when buying a vehicle. We want to ensure that it is a safe vehicle equipped with all the necessary features. If the car is missing something or has a needed repair, this can result in an accident or serious injury.


What should I do if I did get into an accident with my used vehicle?

Firstly, ensure that you are safe and not injured, then contact the skilled accident attorneys at Demesmin and Dover Law Firm. We will get to the bottom of what occurred and walk you through every step of the process. Call us today at 866-954-MORE (6673) for your free consultation.

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