What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car has many benefits over buying new, such as a lower cost, but there are also many potential pitfalls. Because used cars have a history, you could be subjected to a pampered vehicle that was well cared for, or end up with a vehicle that never received its regular oil changes.

We want our customers in Emmaus, Allentown, and Bethlehem to get the most value out of their purchase, so we decided to cover some tips for what you should look for when buying a used car.

Perform a Visual Inspection

You don’t need to be a mechanic to get a basic idea of a car’s condition. Take a look around the outside of the car, inspecting for scratches, dents, rust, or any other blemishes, including the roof, hood, trunk lid, and other less noticeable areas.

This is also a good time to check body seams and ensure they line up correctly. All the attachment points of the car should be even and aligned, and if they’re not, it could mean it experienced extensive body work.

Once that’s complete, get down on the ground and look underneath the car. Check for any signs of unevenness or other indications that the car may have experienced a serious accident that caused body damage.

Check for Water Damage

If a car has been in a flood, there are a few surefire ways to determine that. Condensation will build up inside the headlight and taillight lenses, which is very obvious once you know what to look for.

Another sign of potential flood damage is muddy residue inside the car, in hard-to-reach areas. Underneath or between the seats, and under the pedals are two areas that rarely get that much mud or dirt, so residue there could mean it was once filled with water.

In addition, musty, mold, or mildew smells could also indicate prior flood damage, so pay attention to the smell of the interior.

Check for Rust

Rust is a big concern with a car, so it’s important to check the car thoroughly for any signs of rust forming. Some areas to check are the inside of the fenders, under any corners, the bottoms of the door sills, and the edges beneath the doors, since these are some of the first areas to develop rust.

Check Tire Wear

Having older tires on the car isn’t necessarily a problem, but they should be worn evenly. Check the tread to ensure that its even and flat, and not cupped. Newer tires can camouflage problems with the alignment that are expensive and time-consuming, so take note of any inconsistencies in the tires.

Take a Test Drive

When you take your test drive, listen for any unusual sounds, such as squeaking, grinding, or squealing. The engine should sound smooth and consistent, with no other sounds emanating from other areas of the car.

This is also an opportunity to put the car through the motions and check that the steering is even in both directions, the transmission shifts smoothly, both up and down, and that the car stays straight.

Now that you know what to look for in your used car, stop by Kelly Mitsubishi to check out our extensive inventory of used cars, trucks, and SUVs, and schedule your test drive!