Before buying your used car you will have gone through your checklist of things to look for – price, age, condition and reliability. However, once you have purchased your used car and driven away, there are still some important things you need to immediately look for once you bring it home.
You will possibly find some faults from a used car for the simple reason that it is used. Apart from minor cosmetic issues the used car should not have any major faults such as mechanical faults and it should drive safely. This comprehensive list will help you to identify any obvious defects, scratches and chips on the car as well as any major issues with the car including problems under the hood.
Here are seven important things you should look for after buying your used car.
1. Exterior and interior clean
If you have bought your car from a used car dealer, the chances are that it has already been washed and cleaned. However, don’t simply rely on the dealer’s word that it has been fully cleaned. The first job is to give it a thorough clean by taking it to a professional car wash and then spend some giving the used car a fresh coat of wax. This will then highlight any problems with the paintwork particularly signs of rust. Check all the panels beneath the doors and the door edges as well inside the trunk for rust spots or paint blisters. Also the exterior bodywork of the used car for any fresh discolored areas of paint as well as checking the body panels to ensure they all match with the rest of the color of the car.
Look inside the car to check it has been properly cleaned. Don’t take the word of the used car dealer when they say it has been professionally cleaned. Remove the floor mats of the car and the carpet if possible. Vacuum all the seats, and the carpet and mats. Fix the correct attachment to the vacuum cleaner so you can reach underneath the seats, around the pedals and the area between the front seats and the central console. Clean around the dashboard and the doors carefully. For fabric seats and carpets use a carpet cleaner dry foam spray if possible. This will clean out dried in stains as well as leave a fresh odor in the car.Professional car clean kits are available which include products to clean the interior and exterior of your used car.
Start up your car and let it run for a while. Stop the engine and put the hand brake on and wait a few minutes for it to cool down. Open the bonnet and locate the engine oil dipstick. Pull this out, give it a wipe with a clean cloth and then insert it back. Again pull it out and take a closer look. If the oil looks clean and not black then this suggests the engine has been maintained well and has the proper level of oil. Look for any oil leaks. A clean engine suggests there are no oil leaks. However, take a look underneath the engine with a torch. If the lower part of the engine and the transmission are dry you have no leaks.
You may have been told the car has had new tires fitted, but it is always worth checking. Have a close look at the tires. Check the tires have not been painted black to make them look new. Also check the brand – are they a reputable brand. Make sure all the tires are the same. Check the tread of the tires and check against the legal tread requirements. Check for balding and if possible find out when the tires were last changed. On average tires should be changed every 30,000 miles or every two years. Check all the tires are the same and that nothing is lodged in the tire wall – normally nails.
Take a drive in the car. When braking there should be no vibration or any strange noises, the steering should not pull or shake when you slam on the brakes. When braking the pedal should not feel light, if this is the case then it is a sign the brakes need replacing. Take a look at the brake disc. It should be shiny from the inside to outer edge, and the markings should be visible all the way round. Make sure there are no rough patches of the face of the disc or any visible grooves on the disc. If you spot any of these, then the brakes need changing. Always change in pairs as this will ensure your car drives evenly and safely.
Thoroughly inspect the electrics of the car. Test the operation of the electric windows and ensure the locks all work correctly. Check the windshield wipers function correctly and that the windscreen and rear window (if it has a wiper) are been properly cleaned. If the car has heated seats ensure that they are functioning correctly. If the seat has electric adjustments have a play and make sure the seat adjustments work correctly. Fully test the alarm system if the car has one. Thoroughly test the audio equipment, particularly if the car is fitted with a CD. Make sure the stereo can play the CD.
7. Inform your insurance provider
As soon as you have purchased your used car you must notify your insurance provider immediately. Inform them you are the new owner and registered keeper of the car. Provide all the correct details to the insurance company and ensure they can send you confirmation that you are legally covered whilst your actual insurance policy arrives. If they provide online printable documentation then print off immediately.