Whether you’re helping your child buy their first car, or simply feel like changing or upgrading your current ride, buying a second hand car is usually an economical choice. There are plenty of great bargains out there; but with any vehicle there can also be some hidden problems…and costs.
Do you know what type of car is best for you? Cars Guide has a handy tool to help you decide what sort of vehicle fits your lifestyle…and budget.
Buying from a reputable second hand dealer usually carries less risk than a private purchase. For a private purchase, you can check the Personal Property Securities register to check on any money owing and that the information you’ve been provided is correct.
When in the market for wheels we tend to focus on the make, model, year, mileage and of course price; but there are plenty of other things you should look for when buying second hand. Here are ten things you should be aware of before you sign that dotted line!
#1.Look at how the car sits on the road
Before inspecting the vehicle, make sure the car is on level ground. This will help you to clearly check the tires, and whether the car sits evenly on the road. If the car is sagging or slumping anywhere, this could indicate a problem with the suspension. Push down on each corner of the vehicle to check the shock absorbers. If they’re in good shape the car should only rebound once, not continue to move up and down.
#2.Check the paint job thoroughly
At first glance the paintwork might look tip top; but it doesn’t take much to cover up paint chips and rust spots with auto touch up paint. Inspect the paint work closely and thoroughly, taking note of any rust, dents or scratches. Even minor cosmetic damage could help you negotiate a lower price, or it could indicate more serious underlying issues that could arise further down the road. If you do locate rust, chips, cracks or wear in the paint, these problems tend to worsen rapidly in our Aussie climate, and a new paint job doesn’t come cheap. If you otherwise love the condition of the vehicle, you should factor new paint work into the offer.
#3.Check the boot and see if it is in good condition.
Often overlooked, the boot is a hotspot for leaks in older cars. This could occur through cracks or holes, or perished rear windscreen seals. If there is evidence that water has entered the vehicle, it could be harboring unhealthy mould and causing rust unseen by the naked eye. A musty smell in the interior is always a warning sign.
#4.Tyres and wheel wells
Check the vehicle’s tyres. Is the tread beginning to wear down? Is there a solid history of wheel alignments and rotation? Remember to assess the condition of the spare tyre as well – it should be in good shape too. Replacing tyres can be costly, so it may help you reduce the asking price. With a torch, have a good look at the wheel wells for any signs of rust.
#5.Is there any damage to the frame?
If the frame of the car shows signs of any damage it’s best to have it assessed independently by a professional. Damage to the frame can compromise the integrity of many safety features. Your windscreen may not be fitted securely, and the roof may be more inclined to collapse in the event of a roll over. If an inspector finds there is issues with the frame, you are better off walking away from it and finding a different vehicle.
#6.Is it all good under the hood?
Check underneath the bonnet, be sure that all hoses and belts are in good condition and aren’t sagging or loose. Be sure to also check the engine and battery for any leaks or corrosion. Make sure all fluid reservoirs are sound and contain sufficient oil, coolant and transmission fluid. Dark brown oil stains on the engine block are a deal breaker – it could indicate a costly gasket leak.
#7.Registration and roadworthy
Is the vehicle currently registered and has the current owner obtained a roadworthy certificate? The laws on whether or not you can sell a used car without a roadworthy certificate vary from state to state, so it’s important to contact your local road transport authority for details. If you’re purchasing an unregistered vehicle, you will need a roadworthy certificate before you can have the car registered. There are a whole bunch of problems that can cause a roadworthy fail, so be very wary if a car is unregistered. Failing a roadworthy can be costly – and embarrassing, so you want to ensure you pass your roadworthy inspection.
#8.Pay close attention to the autoglass
Thoroughly inspect the front and rear windscreens and windows. Are there any chips or cracks in the windscreen? Are the seals cracked or showing any signs of leakage? A cracked windscreen can affect the roadworthy condition of the vehicle and require a repair before you can get on the road. Again, any defects can help you with negotiating a better price but not without other risks.
#9.Lights, lenses and horn
Now, you wouldn’t think to check the horn is working when buying a car – but it’s a safety feature. If it’s not working properly, you could fail your roadworthy, or worse – fail to avoid an accident in future. Likewise, your lights and lenses all need to be working perfectly. Check your high beams and all lighting settings – including your hazards. Lenses and reflectors must not be fogged with moisture, damaged or missing.
#10.Take her for a spin
Never purchase a vehicle without taking it for a test drive. This is the best way to check the interior, the brakes and steering, performance and internal features. Make sure there’s no air bag or other safety warning lights and that the air conditioning, power windows and other electronics are all in good order.
If you don’t know much about cars, consult a friend with good vehicle knowledge, or a mechanic that can help you inspect the vehicle. This can help prevent unexpected and costly problems down the road. Even a second hand car is a big investment. If you come across a great buy, but the windscreen needs some love, we can solve your windscreen repair problems for you!
We’re here to help, so get in touch with us! Our expert team of professionals at Novus Auto Glass are the one stop solution for all your auto glass and headlight restoration needs.