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Effective tips to find the condition of your used car

If you are contemplating buying a used car and thinking of issues such as used car warranty, used car title transfers or before you even begin to research used cars, you need to know the advantages of buying used cars. Here they are:
  • The used car market is in a boom phase with used car sales surpassing new car sales. The result is a vast choice, more reliability, and more durability at cheaper rates.
  • A used car warranty is not the same as a new car warranty, but a new car warranty can be transferred to a used car buyer. He can then add on to this warranty, especially if he is buying a late-model used car. It can also be the case that the new car owner has found a defect in the car and has invoked the warranty to get it rectified; so in all probability the used car buyer is getting a practically new car.
  • The certified pre-owned car programs do go a long way to assure the buyer that a used car is as good as new.
Of course, before you buy a used car you need to get a free vehicle history report, do your research and avoid used cars scams. But let us take one step at a time. For starters you should thoroughly inspect a used car and this is how you do it:

Inspecting a used car

Before you bring a used car to a mechanic for a final inspection, you must inspect it yourself initially. Remember that a car inspection should be done in daylight hours or in a well-lit garage, you should wear old clothes, the car should not have been driven in the last one hour before inspection, and should be standing on a level surface.
  • Tools you should keep handy: Paper and pencil, flashlight, magnet, rag or paper towels, work gloves, old blanket, and a music CD to check out the sound system.
  • First walk around the car and see if the car is standing level. If it is tilting or sagging then a spring or the suspension might be damaged.
  • Grab each corner one-by-one and press it down. If the shock absorbers are good then the car will stabilize in one or two rebounds.
  • Pull the top of both the front tires and tug it back and forth. If there are some strange sounds then there's an issue with the wheel bearings.
  • Look for scratches, dents and rust on the exterior. If you come across any misalignme nts on the body, it indicates that he car has been welded or repaired haphazardly. The paint color and finish must be consistent. Look for paint peel-offs and check if these reveal paint underneath.
  • Run the magnet over the car's body. If it has been repaired and filled with plastic, then the magnet won't stick.
  • Look for rust beneath the doors and on the metal beneath the doors. Check the wheel wells for rust.
  • Open and close the doors and the hood. Check to see if they close properly.
  • Turn on the lights and see if all are working fine.
  • Check the tires to see if all belong to the same brand and are of the same size. Are the tires new but the odometer shows low mileage? - In this case the seller is trying to con you. Check for dents, bulges or rust on tire rims.
  • Look for cracks on the glass.
  • Now open the car door and get in and smell. Smell anything musty or wet? Yes? Then chances are there's some leak somewhere. Remember, leaks are tough to fix.
  • Look at the pedal rubber. Worn out rubber indicates high usage.
  • Start the car and see if the engine sounds are smooth and there is no sputtering. Try out every switch, button and lever. Try out the interior lights. Have a blast honking the horn.
  • Turn on the air-conditioner and see if it is working all right. The same goes for the heater. Remember, once upon a time, as late as the early 1990s, air conditioners used to play havoc with the earth's ozone layer and so their technology was changed in 1994. So, if your car's air conditioner uses the older technology you will have to spend up to $ 1,000 to make it more tech-savvy.
  • Play the music system and check the CD player, its sound, as well as radio reception.
  • Try out the seats and see if they sag and if their upholstery is in good condition. If the upholstery is old and the odometer shows less mileage, then something is wrong.
  • Look in the trunk and smell for wetness or mustiness, which indicates leaks and bad news. S ee if the spare tire is fine and matching with the other tires and check to see if all the tools are there.
  • Now peer under the hood. Are all the wires properly insulated and in place? Are the hoses and the fan belt in good shape? Are the fluids up to their marks? Enough coolant?
  • Spread the old blanket next to the car so you can get a pavement-eye view. Lie down and use your flashlight to see what lies beneath. If you see oil drips, leakages or greenish coolant, then it is a bad sign. See if there are any fuel leaks and do not be alarmed if you see water dripping - it is probably condensed water from the air conditioner.
  • Finally, take a test drive and answer these questions: (i) Are you comfortable while driving the car? (ii) Does the steering respond quickly enough or is there some play in it? If there is a play in the steering, it is not a good a sign. (iii) Are the wheels steady or do they shake? (iv) Is the engine smooth or does it sputter or surge? (v) Drive the car both uphill and downhill. Are there any strange sounds? (vi) Are the brakes working smoothly? (vii) Drive at a steady pace. Do you feel any vibrations? (viii) Lastly, drive the car on a bumpy road and check its response. Does the car bounce or hop a lot? If it does then there's a problem somewhere.
These steps will help you in getting to know the used car. Remember to show it to a mechanic before finally deciding on a YES or a NO because it is possible that you might have slipped up while inspecting it yourself.

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