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If you feel purchasing a new car is tricky, then buying a second hand car can be quite trickier. But don't fret just yet--with these guidelines to keep you on track, that used car could be one of the sweetest deals you've ever had.
Where to Look
Snoop around. It pays to be on the lookout for owners wanting to shift to a newer model, and thus wanting to sell the car of your dreams. This is where your friends and family come in. Aside from referrals, they could more or less ensure that the price is reasonable and the car's ownership history is satisfactory.
Asking the Right Questions
Why are the owners letting the car go? Make sure that they are not selling due to any major problems.
How long have they owned the car? Given proper maintenance, a five to seven year-old car would generally be in good condition. What repairs have been done, or are currently needed? How's the mileage? The lower the mileage, the better. However, a used car with more miles could be satisfactory, too. In this case, ask about the vehicle's use. Was it a family car limited to city driving? Does the car come with a warranty?
Take Note of the following:
Body rust or holes are difficult to repair. A body panel rusting through is to be replaced. Different paint shades from one panel to another, peeling and cracked paint, or smudges on other car part indicates a poor re-paint job, which needs to be re-done. Threadbare tires, chipped or cracked glass, the electrical work and what's beneath the hood should be given proper attention, too.
Going Out for a Test Drive
If it's a manual car, the clutch shouldn't slip. If the clutch slips, instead of being steady as it accelerates, the motor will be revved up as when using neutral. If this happens get yourself a new clutch! Is the exhaust not chugging out excess smoke and noise? The car may need some good motor repair, or some of the exhaust system parts replaced. Do the pothole test. Overly shaky rides could indicate a suspension problem, an alignment problem and or a tire problem. Always have a trusted mechanic or a car aficionado friend to thoroughly go over the car with you.
The Turn Over, at Last
The number of previous owners, registration details, applicable taxes, and insurance papers - should all be properly documented. With the paperwork done and the payment terms agreed upon, you're ready to hit the road, and enjoy the ride!
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