In this article, we’ll go over five important things you should know when buying a used car.
At Hansma Automative, we have over 30 years of experience working with all types of vehicles, and we want to let our experience work for you!
We’ll take a closer look at the things you should consider before saying ‘yes!’ to your new-to-you vehicle so you don’t regret your decision. Le't’s get started now!
5 Essential Tips For Buying a Used Car
Take a look at our Tips For Buying a Used Car infographic below, and continue reading to learn more about each step you should take before you make a purchase.
1. Check The Interior
One of the first things you’ll want to do when buying a used car is to thoroughly check out the interior of the car. Take a deep breath - do you like what you smell?
It may seem a bit strange, but it’s important to take note of any strange smells! If you notice any smell that reminds you of mildew, there may be mould growth that you can’t see.
This could be a sign that there was a recent leak - or that the previous owners really didn’t take care of the car as best they should have.
Make sure you take a thorough look (and sniff) inside!
Of course, you’ll also just want to take a look at the condition of things. It’s up to you to decide what you can handle, and what you will want to pass on.
Maybe a few scratches here and there are fine, but a big rip in the seat or stains everywhere is not something you want to deal with.
You’ll also get to see what features and additions your used car includes - such as heated seats, a sun roof, an updated stereo systems, etc.
Consider keeping a list of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ before looking at used cars. This way, you’ll be able to see what you truly want and what you are willing to sacrifice on - before you start the car search.
2. Check The Exterior
The exterior of the used car you’re looking at will be able to give you a ton of information about the vehicle! First off, you’ll want to take a thorough look at the entire car. Look for things like scratches, dents, rust spots, cracks, or any other type of damage.
As best you can, you’ll want to look at pretty much everything, including:
The tires (check the tread, wear, ensure tires match on both sides)
The car’s glass (windshield, windows, and mirrors)
The lights (do they look cloudy? Are they damaged)
Check the body for signs of damage
Check the windshield wipers
Check the handles (Are they sticky? Does something seem off?)
CarFax Canada also suggests that you look for things such as paint overspray on the door seals or mufflers or fresh paint underneath the car, as these are clear signs the car has been repaired (aka was previously in a collision!)
Check out the video below for tips on inspecting a used car. This is a great video because it shows just how easy it is to inspect a used car - even if you don’t have the seller there with you to provide access to the interior! Keep in mind that you can purchase used cars from a dealership, or from a private seller.
See great tips for inspecting the exterior of a used car yourself
It is strongly recommended that you also get a professional inspection (we’ll go over that below). However, it’s still important for you to inspect the car yourself to ensure nothing is missed - and that you’re happy with the condition it’s in.
3. Take a Drive Test
Simply looking at a used car can only tell you so much. When it comes to buying a used car, you’re going to want to test drive it. And you’ll want to do more than just a spin around the block!
Most experts recommend you test drive the car a good chunk of time, around 45 minutes should be long enough for you to get a good feel for the car.
Test drive the vehicle for at least 45 minutes to get a good feel of the car
When driving, you’ll want to take the car onto a wide variety of roads - from slower city roads to main highways. It’s a good idea to note how the car feels when braking and accelerating.
You can check out this handy Used Car Checklist from Chris Fix - the last page of the checklist has things to look for when test driving a used car!
4. Get The History
The reason many of us choose a used car over a brand new one is because, of course, you’ll save money when buying a used car.
However, if you buy a ‘dud’ this isn’t always the case! A car may look perfect - and even appear to drive perfectly. But then, a few weeks or a few months later, you may run into big, costly problems.
A CarFax report can help you find any problems with a used car
Depending on where you bought the car from and if there is a warranty or not, some or all of that cost could fall on you!
That’s why getting the history of the car is so important. Fortunately, there are many companies that allow you to do just that. In Canada, one of the most popular ways to do this is through the trusted company CarFax.
Through CarFax, you can get a detailed history report on any vehicle as long as you have the VIN number. There is a small fee to pay for the report, but it is beyond worth it for the peace of mind you’ll get!
5. Get a Professional Inspection
Although a lot of buyers don’t consider a professional inspection, it is actually one of the most important things you can do when buying a used car. As Wheels.ca puts it:
“Many shoppers won’t invest the half-day to take the car for a third-party assessment, which pretty well negates all the careful shopping they’ve done. It’s like dropping the ball at the 10-yard line.”
A professional inspection from a trusted mechanic can help you find things you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed - like poorly done repairs or issues with the engine or brakes.