Winter is upon many of us (we’re jealous of you Aussies and Saffers) and to that end, many are on the hunt for a used car. While buying a second-hand car certainly isn’t season-dependent, it’s a lot less OK to break down when temps are frigid outside. With that in mind, what are your top used-car-buying tips?
We’re not talking ‘walk away from this great deal so that I can buy it tips either. If your best friend or favorite family member was about to drop some serious cash on a car what would you tell them to look for? There are a number of obvious options.
For example, it’s easy to recommend getting a car with a great and well-documented service history. It’s certainly no promise that the car in question won’t have future issues but a good service history can provide more reassurance than is typical in many used-car-buying situations.
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Checking for major fluid leaks is another somewhat obvious suggestion. Most cars that leave evidence of their parking spot everywhere they go aren’t incredibly well maintained. Either that or they’re a BMW, right?
What about the obscure suggestions though? Maybe there’s a specific spot in a car that you like to check for wear and tear. Perhaps there’s a test-drive technique that you use to expose worn-out components or a faltering drivetrain component.
If I had to pick one thing that doesn’t seem to be super-obvious I’d say take a good look at the tires. Firstly, do they match? If not, it’s an indication that the owner might have skimped on maintenance in the past. Regardless of whether or not they match, do they have even wear patterns? Again, this is a subtle but reliable sign of maintenance.
As the former lead at a wheel and tire shop, I can speak from experience when I tell you that most people who wouldn’t keep matching tires were the same ones that would often defer maintenance whenever they possibly could. What are your favorite used-car-buying tips though? You know what to do.