People are beginning to receive their tax returns. Many are using that tax return towards the purchase of a used car. When buying a car from an individual, there are some to look out for to make sure you do not buy someone else’s headache.
Before making an appointment to look at the vehicle, there are several things you will want to know. The first involves the title to the vehicle. If there is not a title, it is a salvage title, the title is not in the seller’s name or there is a lien it and the seller does not have a lien release, do not even bother looking at the car. If you buy the vehicle you have nothing but problems trying to insure and title it.
You should also check on websites like consumer reports, J.D. Powers, etc. for any reliability issues or recalls with the make and model
Look at the car during the daytime so you can see it properly. Listen to the engine run, It should run smoothly. There are a multitude of things you should check on both the outside and inside of the car. On the outside check for signs of rust around the wheel wells, door hinges, etc. Rust spreads like a plague. Also check the body for any rippling. Rippling will tell you the body has been repaired. Check the tires tread and tire pressure. Make sure all the lights work.
Check under the car to see if any fluids are leaking. Then check the fluid levels and whether they are dirty. If the fluids are low or dirty, it is an indication that the vehicle has not been well maintained. Check the battery for corrosion.
Inside the car, check the pedals, seats steering wheel. If they have a lot of wear, the car has high mileage no matter what the odometer says. Then, check to make sure all the gauges and controls work. The windows should go down and up easily, the doors should open and lock correctly. Lift up the carpet in the car and in the trunk to see if there is rust underneath it. If there is an air freshener in the car, check for water or flood damage.
Test drive the car through city streets and on the highway to see how it accelerates, brakes, handles the road, etc. Listen for any unusual noises from the transmission, engine and tires.
If you are interested in buying the car, ask if the seller why they are selling it and if they are the original owner. If they are not the original owner, where did they get the car and how long have they had it? Ask if the car needs any repairs and to see maintenance records. If the car has more than 100.000 miles, ask if the timing belt has been replaced.
If you are really serious about purchasing the car, ask to take the car to your mechanic. There, have the mechanic put the car on a lift and inspect it completely. It may cost as much as $100, but it will be money well spent. Also spend the few dollars it costs to run either a Carfax or Auto Check report. That will tell you the history of repairs and accidents on the car.
When you agree on a purchase price for the vehicle, pay with a certified bank check so you will have a record of the transaction. In addition to a signed title, get a bill of sale for the car.
Once you do buy a car, you have to get rid of your old car. An easy and convenient way to do that is to donate car to charity. In return for your car donation, you will receive a tax deduction.