When buying a used car, most of the people fails to judge the right condition of the car and evaluate it. These are some points I found useful checking out before buying a used car.
- Service record – if the car has been regularly serviced, it should have a record at the authorised dealer. This may be hard to get for out-of-city or out-of-state registered cars though. Check for warranty claims if possible – owners may well tolerate failures as long as they don’t have to pay for them , using warranty , then selling the car right after warranty expires. You don’t want a car with a history of part failures – it might be that all problems were rectified and proven reliable by the time warranty period ended, but that’s a big chance to take.
- Check if the engine number and chassis no. match the number in the registration papers before you buy second hand car.
Check all the filters of the second-hand car, and get them changed if possible. All filters (air, fuel, transmission, oil) need regular cleaning and oiling. Failing to do this can affect the performance of the car significantly. If nothing else, this is a quick judge of how well the car has been maintained.
Check the brakes of the second hand car. Drive the car at 40-50 kmph in an area that has little to no traffic. Be sure to look for any vibration, or any strange and squealing noise from the brake pedal. Brakes that pulsate could also mean that the rotors need replacement.
Check under the hood for signs of damage, dents or rust – they are signs of a poorly maintained car or a prior damaged one.
- Insurance record – if the car has had any claims made against it. You mau want to steer clear of big claims, indicating a major accident. It’s not that a car is completely unsafe or unreliable after a major accident, but it needs high skill to restore a badly damaged vehicle to spec, so skip the anxiety and avoid cars with major accident damage (chassis damage is the main thing). Also look out for paint mismatch, if there is a mismatch in paint looking different or fresher in some areas, it could be a sign of accident being hidden. Though it is quite common for people to do partial repaint for minor repairs like scrapes in traffic, which aren’t serious – but aftermarket repaint might not be done as well and could be the ingress point for rust. Don’t Forget to have a valid insurance policy copy in your name as it is to get the registration transferred. If the RC is registered in your name and the policy is still under the previous owner’s, then the insurance policy stands nullified! So, it’s very important to transfer the insurance in your name after buying second hand car. There can be 3 possible ways to get the second hand car insurance in your name,A name change in the previous owner’s policy In case you want to transfer the second hand car insurance, it has to be a process parallel to the transfer of ownership. Many second hand car sellers, as well as buyers, are unaware of this key point and assume that the previous owner’s policy is valid. The photocopy of the receipts/form 29/30 can be used to apply for the name transfer on the second hand car’s insurance policy. Once the customer had the RC transferred to his name after the purchase, it is mandatory to apply for a new car insurance policy A new insurance policy gets issued after a quick vehicle inspection from the insurance company.
- Signs of corrosion – look under the car, in the engine bay, in the nooks and crannies , for rust. Most modern cars are fine in this regard, but cars that have spent a significant portion of their lives near coastal areas, you want to check those thoroughly for rust.
- Match the odometer reading with tyre wear. Many car dealers tamper with odometer to make it look it has run a lot less. If the odometer reads 30000km and tyres are bald, chances are it’s run 50000km. Also look at the condition of upholstery – very worn seats and buttons are indicative of higher running. If the seller is the owner and not a dealer, check what kind of running that person did – whether it was a daily run car, or weekly and whether it was mostly intra-city or highway. Cars run on the highway suffer less wear than city run only cars – so a highway run car with 90000km might be in better health than a 50000km run car that only saw urban traffic (jams!).
- Modifications – while lot of car owners add accessories, any accessories that leave the car unable to return to stock/factory like condition are best avoided. Many people do performance mods, that may affect fuel consumption, suspension mods that improve handling at the cost of comfort – so make sure you understand what modifications are done – you don’t want a car modded by a racer-boy , even if it is in fantastic shape – if you want a comfortable family wagon to run to the malls on weekends and office on weekdays – you’ll have to shell out to restore it original trim. Unless you want that sporty mod as a second or third car. While many serious hobbyists implement serious, costly and worthwhile mods, they may not be of interest to you ; and there will be many who do outlandish mods like huge tyres and wide fenders, trying to look sporty without the engine/suspension keeping up. All said, it’s best to try and get a vehicle close to stock/factory spec.
These are some of the points you should check thoroughly.