Things to Look for in a Used Vehicle

Carl Black Used Silverado in Field

Many people skip the idea of buying a new Chevrolet in Orlando when it’s time to replace an existing one. Instead, wanting to save some money, they look for the used options: those cars that have been traded in called back (Like to Carl Black Chevrolet Orlando) or repossessed for a variety of reasons that still have a lot of life left in them. A used vehicle can be a great way to get some of the higher features and performance capabilities in a vehicle at a much lower cost.

It is not always the most reliable option, however. As many people experience each year, there are certain risks that come with a used vehicle that don’t exist with new options. Primarily, you have to face a higher degree of uncertainty regarding the car’s overall condition and roadworthiness. Any vehicle with some history behind it may have certain flaws or issues that will require repairs later on.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can be on the lookout for when searching for a used vehicle to minimize the chance of buying the dreaded “lemon.” If you take some easy steps to research and understand the condition of a possible vehicle, you will reduce the amount of uncertainty you may experience later on once you actually own the car.

Here are a few steps you should take before purchasing a used vehicle.

Give it the Visual Inspection

One of the first and easiest steps you can take before buying a new vehicle is giving it a visual inspection. This can happen the moment you see the vehicle in person. Keep in mind, however, that it needs to be done when you’re face-to-face with the car since pictures you may find online are rarely detailed enough to see all the different angles and details you need to during the inspection.

When you are looking at the car, begin with a casual inspection of the exterior. Look around the chassis and body panels for any major signs of wear and tear. Depending on the age of the vehicle, you will no doubt see the usual assortment of dings and scrapes that come with age. Any major holes, dents, or other deformations and damage to the vehicle that seem out of the ordinary should be noted.

Look under the hood and the interior as well. For the engine bay, look for signs of corrosion or rust, areas that appear browner than gray on the metal. Keep an eye out for any missing parts, even simple nuts, and bolts that hold everything together. On the interior, check out any surfaces such as the dashboard and seats for scratches, holes, and other damage.

Finally, if possible, get a glance at the undercarriage. Even when the car’s on the ground, poke your head under the wheels to get a look at the drivetrain if there is enough room. Look for the same signs of damage that you did under the hood: corrosion, rust, missing parts, or major signs of damage.

If you notice anything major, this may be a used option to avoid if you aren’t looking for a restoration project.

The Test Drive

After the visual inspection, the next step is to get a sense of how it handles out on the open road. Normally, this is done just to see what the car is like when you’re driving it. With used vehicles, however, you get the added benefit of driving and experiencing the car as it’s in motion. Many times, this will reveal any major defects or problems with the vehicle that you wouldn’t notice by a visual inspection alone.

If you’re buying a used car from a dealership, a test drive should be no problem. Just like new vehicles, most dealerships are accustomed to giving their customers the time and space to test out the vehicle before making the purchase. If it is for sale by a private owner, however, sometimes this can be a little bit more difficult. If the private owner has any issues with a test drive, it is better to move on to other possibilities. If they can’t be convinced that you need a test drive or else the sale won’t happen, there’s no point in wasting your time with further persuasion.

When you are test driving a vehicle, take note of anything that is out of the ordinary. Uncommon sounds coming from the engine, interior, or undercarriage should be of particular note. These could be indications that something is mechanically wrong in an area that you can’t physically see from the outside. As a result, this could be an important indication of further problems down the road.

Getting a Professional Inspection

Since it is possible a used vehicle passes all of the standard visual and experiential inspections while still hiding issues, the final line of defense to get the true condition of the car down is with a mechanical inspection. This has to be done by a professional unless you have the extensive experience and automotive knowledge mechanics and service people have.

Many dealerships will have their own inspection process the car has already gone through. It is up to you to decide whether this is enough for you. While most dealerships are straightforward and truthful with their inspections, the only way for you to know for sure is to have an independent inspection done by a mechanic of your choosing.

When this happens, the mechanic will look at all of the areas that you can’t see from a visual inspection alone. This includes inside many of the engine and drivetrain components, testing out the electrical systems, and using more sensitive tools to measure important metrics related to the vehicle’s performance.

If everything comes up clear, chances are you’re looking at the perfect vehicle for you.

Moving Forward

When you have completed this three stage inspection process, you can buy that used vehicle with a higher sense of confidence and assurance that it will be in great condition for many years. Even if it has a few problems, the more you know about them, the more you know what to expect going in with the purchase. If you’re okay with a few repairs in the immediate future, it still may be a good deal if the price is right.
To help you make some of these decisions, it is best to go with a dealership that has expert service people to guide you along the way. Come down to Carl Black Chevrolet Orlando to see how we can help you with your next Chevrolet purchase in Orlando.