Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to Find the Best Used Car

In the earlier post we discussed how to clear up your car buying confusion. Most of us have agreed that buying a used car is often the best and most financially efficient choice. However, out of the excitement of getting a car, many used car buyers don’t look close enough at the pre-owned vehicle or they look at the wrong things. I don’t want your story included in the list of used car tragedies, so here are ten commandments on examining a pre-owned car.

1. Carefully examine the body, look for fresh paint jobs or different colors of paint on the body panels. Open the bonnet and look at the paintwork so that you can make out if the car has been repainted or not.
2. Under the bonnet, look for oil leaks and use the dipstick to check the amount of oil. If the level is low, the car hasn’t been looked after properly. Examine the surroundings of the oil filler cap, if you find a white substance it is an indication of a damaged head gasket, replacing which is going to be darn expensive.
3. Check the tyres and the spare tyre to ensure they’re in good condition with plenty of tread. If the tyres are bald, you can bargain up to Rs 1000 per tyre. Worn tyre edges indicate problems with the wheel alignment.
4. Check for acid wear and tear around the battery areas. If the battery is not new, there is another chance of decreasing the price of the car by Rs 2,500.
5. Another very important thing to assess is the suspension. Push down on top of the wing each side just once and release, the vehicle should go down and come back up once and stay put. If the car bounces up and down and appears soft, the shock absorbers are faulty. While test driving the car, listen for any ‘thud’ sound coming from the shock absorbers. Replacing them is going to be incredibly expensive, so what I would suggest is, try another car if the suspension is defective.
6. Get inside, check the kilometre reading of the car and calculate with the year of manufacture. There is always a possibility of Odometer tampering irrespective of the meter being mechanical or electronic.
7. Personally speaking, clutch is the most challenging part of a used car. Because, if the car has done more than 50,000 kms, you don’t know when the car is going to break down in the middle of the road due to clutch failure. Unfortunately, there’s probably no practical way to measure the degree of clutch wear. Yet, you can refer this link to get an idea on How to Diagnose a Slipping Clutch.
8. Check ALL electrical components, lightings, dippers, cabin lights, indicators and tail lamps, stereo, windshield washer and wiper and especially, Air Conditioner.
9. Start the engine. It should start at the first attempt without any hiccups. The engine should idle seamlessly without clattering or metallic sounds. With the engine idling, turn the steering wheel right and left and ensure there’s no play in the wheel before the tyres start to turn.
10. Test drive is the most important part of examining a used-car. Drive it for 4-5 kilometers in different road conditions, paying attention to the synchronization of the steering wheel, brake pedals, clutch, and the gear shifts. Drive with AC on/off while climbing a slope, there shouldn’t be an abnormal drop in power when the AC is on.

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