Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Used Car : Tips, Checklist & Buying

Tips For Buying Used Cars

A new driver is always better off buying a used car instead of a new car. With the used car, you will be able to refine your driving skills and thus be able to buy a better and more expensive new car.

The main reason people prefer buying used cars today is that it is available at a lower investment; lower depreciation and its financing rates have considerably reduced. Another advantage of buying a used car is that you can afford a luxury car at a reasonable rate and with the developed used car market of today, you are sure to find the used car you were always looking for.

All things in life come with its bad side; and so do used cars. They usually call for higher maintenance and are more susceptible to frequent breakdowns. This is why it is better to follow these tips for buying used cars.

The most important point to bear in mind is to decide on your budget before looking for the car. This helps you avoid going over your budget when buying your used car. Don’t forget to add insurance and other running costs to your budget for your used car.

It is not possible to be very specific when looking for a used car. If you want a specific model, color or a car with a certain mileage or specification, it may be difficult to find such cars at a bargain. However if you are willing to settle for something similar to the car you have in mind, you are sure to have a wider choice of used cars to choose from.

When buying the used car from a dealer or an individual, it is important that you find out the reason for selling the car, how much the car has been used and permission to have the car inspected by a car mechanic before buying the used car. It is only if the mechanic approved of the car should you consider buying the used car.

Sometimes though individual sellers may permit you to have the car inspected by a mechanic, a used car dealer may not be so obliging. In such circumstances, you have to do some inspection of your own on the car. Check the engine for smoothness on starting and no hesitation when accelerating. On looking at the chassis of the car, you will be able to know if the car has met an accident or not.

Check the trunk, hood, doors, the condition of the battery and the wheel alignment of the car. The air conditioning, headlights and indicators should all be in working order. Once this is done, take the car for a test drive to get a feel of the car and thus, help you decide whether or not to buy the car.

The next thing to do is to ensure the paperwork is in order. The registration book should be up to date, the taxation book should show that the lifetime tax has been paid by the original owner of the car, insurance should be intact and don’t forget the invoice for details for engine no., chassis no., date of delivery and if the car was financed or not.

If everything is intact, negotiate on the price for the used car while bearing the condition of the car in mind. If there are some repairs to be done, the price of the car has to be reduced accordingly. And once the sale is done, ensure that the ownership papers are transferred to avoid future confusions.

Mark Robinson writes for http://auto-loans.guidefin.com

Here is a checklist to help you evaluate an old car:

  • First, and most important, check the papers and verify the credentials of the previous owner. If the car has been used for a company or taxi, its mileage may be false and its care minimal. Ensure that the papers are not duplicates, as many stolen cars have such papers. Speak to the previous owners or to the dealer who has been servicing the car. If your seller can't give you this information something may be fishy. Do not part with your money till you are absolutely sure. The registration paper will also tell you if there have been one or more previous owners. If there are more than two, it may be a bit risky.
  • Check for accidents. Peer at the left and right fenders from the front and rear to see if the lines and curves are straight. Check that there are no deviations in the fitting of the doors, bonnet and boot. Look for faded paint. Look under the car for welding within the chassis or suspension parts. Also check for rust. It costs little to get your neighbourhood mechanic to also give you an opinion. If it looks suspicious walk away.
  • Check the mileage the car has done. The odomoters can sometimes be fiddled with so look for scuffed brake and accelerator pads or worn gear levers to give you clues. Try to get a small car with less than 50,000 Kms on the clock or a larger car with less than 80,000.
  • Check the engine. Start the cold engine and check for black smoke out of the exhaust as it accelerates. Also open the oil cap while the engine is running to see if there are any puffs of smoke blowing by the pistons. If there is smoke, the pistons and rings are worn. Don't touch it. A useful trick is to pull out the oil dipstick and rub the oil between your thumb and finger as if you know that some scoundrels put thick oil or even sawdust in the lubes to hide the worn engine. Even if you can't tell the difference it makes you look knowledgeable.
  • Check the paint, and tyres. Original paint is a big plus but no car can be unscratched in Indian traffic, so a good repainting is acceptable. Check that the tyres are not worn or retreads. Start life in your new old car with decent tyres, as a new set or a pair is not very expensive so deduct the cost from the buyer price. If the wheel rims are dented it might have been in an accident. New batteries usually last for over two years. If it is new, the owner will have the guarantee card.
  • All cars now have AC and power steering and not much value is attached to accessories, so the price of an LX model and VX model are not far apart. If the music system is not working, consider that it must be dead and deduct about Rs. 5000 from the transaction price.
  • Test drive the car and check the left and right hand steering, brakes, cornering and handling at speed. Also check for the effectiveness of the AC and listen for rattles.

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