There are a lot of common problems with cars to watch out for when shopping for a new one. If you’re planning to use your car loan to buy a used car, we recommend using a dealership. Buying certified used gives you a layer of protection against common used car issues you’re likely to face. If you’re planning to buy privately, let the buyer beware.
You cannot use a car loan for a private purchase but the same common problems with cars you would look out for in a private sale and a dealership sale are mostly the same.
Our car loan team outlines some of the common problems with used cars to check before you part with your cash.
Body Panel Fit
If you look at a new car, you’ll see all body panel gaps will be uniform in size. You want your used car to be the same.
Look for larger than usual gaps, look for gaps where one end is narrower or wider than the other. Irregular panel gaps can be a sign that the car has been damaged and perhaps not repaired properly.
Engine Warning Lights
It’s normal for all engine warning lights to illuminate when you first start the engine but they should all go out when it’s running. You should only see the seatbelt light once the engine is idling, unless you’re already wearing it.
Any other warning light on the dashboard should be inspected further.
If the engine is running when you arrive, turn it off as soon as you get there. Give it a few minutes to cool down while you’re doing the inspection.
When you start the engine, watch the tailpipe for blue smoke and listen out for any strange noises during startup or during idling. Smoke and strange noises can mean maintenance issues that will need attention.
If the engine idles smoothly, you’re good to go. If it feels ‘lumpy’, there may be a fueling or filter issue.
Once you’re out on the test drive, be mindful of how the suspension and steering feels. Listen out for any knocking and be conscious of any pulling to one side when steering straight or under braking. Both can indicate issues with steering, suspension or brakes.
If the steering wheel vibrates when driving, it could have a wheel bearing or suspension issue.
If you have a safe road to use, let go of the steering wheel at slow speed to see if the car steers straight. If it does, it’s all good. If it doesn’t, it will need checking.
If it’s still safe, build up some speed and hit the brakes hard. Does the car pull to one side? Does the ABS work? Does the car feel unsettled under braking? All would need to be looked at further.
If the brakes squeal or make noises, they may need replacing.
Finally, does the mileage on the odometer match the service record? Is there a discrepancy anywhere?
If there is, the car may have been ‘clocked’, where the odometer has been tampered with to reduce the mileage. There may be other reasons such as engine replacement but that should be clear in the paperwork.
For those of you who know that you have a challenging credit situation, please visit Dixie Auto Loans where we have a team of credit specialists ready to help you get approved for a car loan today!