Be it your first car or your fifth: purchasing a used car continues to be a science. Here’s the most important recommendation: you should never go alone when buying a used car. After all, four eyes and ears see and hear more than two. However, even with expert guidance there are several pitfalls that a buyer can fall into. Here is Gazettely’s list of the most common mistakes when buying a used car.
10. Not checking on the lifting platform
Checking the vehicle on a lifting platform is almost as important as the test drive. This is something you should not do without – even if a used car check at a testing organization is not possible. Sometimes smaller garages are willing to lift the car for a tidy coffee-cash contribution. The vehicle speaks volumes on the lift: Are load-bearing parts free of rust?
Are all suspension joints without play and their rubbers intact? Are there any edges on the brake discs? Do the brake hoses have leaks? Are all the engine units sealed? Is the engine even leaking oil and water? You can easily discover all these things and many more on the lift.
When buying a used car, a test drive is absolutely essential. It is important that the engine is cold! This is the only way to identify cold-start behavior and any defects, such as an excessively worn timing chain. Not only can the test drive determine whether the car drives as you expected, but it may also show technical defects: Is the automatic transmission shifting smoothly and without jerks?
Does the car run perfectly in a straight line? Is the air conditioning working properly? Is there wind noise? Does the ABS work? Are all the indicator lights off? And there are many other points to consider. It is essential to take a companion with you, because the same applies during the test drive: two passengers notice more than one.
No matter how shiny the car is in the sun, don’t let it fool you and check the bodywork carefully for accident damage and repairs. The ideal solution would be a paint thickness gauge. Repainted areas can be tracked down with it. In addition, also check this: Does all the gaps fit? Do all the gaps fit?
Are there any scratches on the screw heads, for example on the edges of the fenders? Are there any paint mists in the wheel arches or on the underbody? Are all add-on parts such as headlights, window panes or trim strips identical in terms of their state of wear? Or was something replaced? Do the seller’s specifications match the car?
You should keep your euphoria in check when purchasing a used car and approach the decision as rationally as possible. Do not buy at any price! In addition, it is important to plan enough time. In an ideal case, you might want to spend another night sleeping on an offer. Before signing the contract, it is also a good idea to take it home and read it through at your own leisure.
Should the weather change for the worse at the scheduled inspection date when buying a used car, you should just reschedule it! One exception: in the case of a convertible, you can check whether the roof is watertight in the rain. Other than that, it is difficult to see damage to the paintwork in rainy conditions, and the technical check is often too short in muddy weather. When the car is surprisingly parked in a dark underground garage and the seller refuses to show it to the light of day: say goodbye.
You should be careful with cash if the seller seems dubious in any way or if the delivery is to take place in a place that seems strange to you. Under such circumstances, many used car buyers have been robbed. If you are buying privately, the handover process should take place in a safe, neutral place (e.g. in front of your bank where you collect the money). Also, do not go alone to the handover.
A used-car salesman can recognize unsuspecting customers immediately – knowing that he can turn something over to them more easily. Therefore, simply stopping by the dealership is not always a good idea. Think in advance what requirements the car should meet so that it fits your requirements (size, engine, comfort, drive, consumption, etc.). Pick your favorites, read up on possible weak points in trade magazines, and compare prices on used car portals.
Anything that is not recorded in writing quickly leads to a dispute afterwards. This often concerns additional agreements, for instance about a set of winter tires which is sold at a favorable price. This should definitely be noted in the purchase contract or on the order form for the vehicle, preferably in as specific a manner as possible.
“A set of winter tires 225/45 R18 on aluminum rims” is more accurate than “winter wheels”. The same goes for delivery. “Third quarter 2021” can later cause annoyance. Rather specify a month or calendar week, even if it is only a non-binding delivery date.
All gasoline engines from 2001 and all diesels from 2004 have on-board diagnostics and a fault memory. Before you buy a used car, make sure to read out the error memory! You can do this in a garage or with a diagnostic device or a diagnostic app in conjunction with an OBD2 adapter. This is not only useful for detecting electronic faults such as a defective lambda sensor, but also for tracking down a manipulated odometer reading.
After all, the mileage of many used cars on offer has been reset. In many cases, however, only the display in the instrument cluster has been tampered with, but the real mileage is still stored in numerous control units. This can be displayed by special diagnostic devices. Reading out mileage data makes sense, especially in the case of high-quality, younger used cars, since this is where the most manipulations take place. Also watch out for marks that do not match low mileage, such as worn pedal rubbers, levers and switches.
So often “fixed price” may appear in the advertisement: As a seller, you don’t like to let go of interested parties in whom you have already invested time. So usually there is still a little discount in it, even if there is a lack of material arguments for the negotiation. Those who do not raise the issue of price at all will miss this opportunity. If the answer is no, the buyer has lost nothing.
Do you know any other mistakes that one should avoid when buying a used car? Let us know in the comments section below.