Whether it's a car, truck or SUV, buying a used vehicle is a smart way to save money. Because they've been driven and used by a previous owner, however, there's a greater risk of defective or failing components. This is why it's important that you take your time to choose the right used vehicle. To help you make a smarter purchasing decision, we've compiled a list of six essential things to look for when buying a used vehicle.
Active the headlights, high beams and turning signals to ensure that all work as intended. It's not uncommon for bulbs to blow. In fact, most automotive light bulbs must be replaced every few years. Assuming it's just a blown bulb, you can easily replace it, so this shouldn't be a deal-breaker when searching for a used car.
Purchasing a new set of tires can easily cost several hundred dollars. If it's a large truck or SUV, you might pay over $1,000 for it. This is why it's a good idea to inspect the tires of any used vehicle that you are considering purchasing. If they are worn and contain little or no tread, you'll need to replace them to keep the vehicle safe on the road.
Many buyers overlook the electrical system when shopping for a used car. It's not until they've signed a purchase agreement until they realize that the car's electrical system is faulty. Maybe the doors spontaneously lock and unlock themselves for no apparent reason, or perhaps the interior lights or climate control doesn't work. Either way, electrical system problems such as these are frustrating, so make sure the used vehicle you buy has a functional electrical system.
Pay attention to the used car's dashboard when you turn on the ignition. Most vehicles manufactured within the past few decades use an on-board computer to record problems with the engine or its components. When a problem occurs, a corresponding code is stored in the computer and the check engine light (CEL) is illuminated.
#5) Engine Bay
It's also a good idea to peek inside the engine bay when shopping for a used vehicle. A well-maintained vehicle should have a clean engine bay. If you see signs of powdery residue coating the engine or its surrounding components, this could be a sign of a coolant leak.
Finally, pull the dipstick to check the engine's oil levels. Low oil is a serious problem that typically signals an underlying issue, such as a head gasket leak or cracked oil pan. Keep in mind that checking the dipstick when the engine is hot or warm will result in a higher reading. Ideally, you should check oil levels when the engine is cold for the most accurate reading.