If you're getting ready to purchase a used car, don't start shopping until you know what you're looking for. This is especially important if you've never purchased a car before. Buying a used car requires time and patience – time to check out all the details and patience to wait until you find the right one. Here are four steps you should take before you go out on a test-drive.
Inspect the Tires
The first thing you should do before you head out on a test-drive is inspect the tires. You'll want to inspect each one individually. The tread should be evenly worn across the tire. There shouldn't be any ripples, bulges or bumps on the sidewalls. Go around the car and inspect each tire. In addition to being evenly worn across each tire, the tread should look the same all the tires. If the tread is unevenly worn, the car may have a suspension problem that will need to be addressed. If any of the tires are rippled or bulging, they'll need to be replaced before the car can be safely driven.
Look at the Brakes
While you're inspecting the tires, take a look at the brakes. You'll be able to look through the spokes in the wheels to see the surface of the front rotors. If you can see gouges or scoring marks in the rotors, the brakes need to be replaced.
Peek Under the Car
As you walk around to inspect the car, don't forget to look under it. That's where you'll find the hidden evidence of potential problems. Look for signs of leaking fluids. If you can see puddles of fluid, ask to have the car moved so that you can look at the color of the fluids on the concrete. Clear may be simply condensation from the air conditioner. However, brown, red, green or blue fluids may show evidence of serious leak problems – such as engine, transmission or radiator leaks. The color of the fluid can tell you where the leak is coming from.
Listen for Unusual Sounds
Finally, you're going to want to turn the engine on and listen to it. Pop the hood and listen for a few minutes. Pay close attention to the sounds the engine is making. It could be trying to warn you about potential problems. For instance, a knocking sound could be coming from damaged pistons.
Now that you're about to buy a used automobile, take the time to make sure you're getting the best car for your money. The tips provided here will help you avoid problems later on.