So you’ve finally decided to buy a secondhand car. You’ve participated in an online auction and won the car you’re interested in. What’s next? If you’re a first-time buyer, purchasing a used car can be overwhelming. After winning the bid, your next step is a vehicle inspection check to ensure that it can save you from expensive automotive headaches in the future.
Remember that a careful evaluation will help you steer clear of hidden problems. Knowing how to spot potential problems and determining how reliable a used car is can save you a visit from auto repair shops.
Moreover, when checking the repossessed car, don’t expect that there will have no issues. There will always have a problem, even minor issues, so let’s set our expectations right. Understand that the ordinary car buyer, even if mechanically savvy, really can’t do an overall justice in used car inspection, so here are some tips to help you check the repossessed car before paying it.
Before anything else, you need to ensure that all the car papers and documents are legal and there is no apprehension attached to the vehicle you’re buying. Luckily, participating in car auctions of reputable institutions like banks can guarantee that their cars have no legal problems. If there’s any, they will be transparent to you upon your inspection.
However, if you still wanted to double-check, here’s what you need to do. First, using the vehicles registered plate number, check via LTO, highway patrol group and PNP if the car has any pending apprehension or if the vehicle has a crime-related record.
Next, if you have the OR/CR, match the engine, body, and chassis number on paper to the actual car numbers. Each number should be the same. If there’s any unmatched number or details, don’t purchase the vehicle. It will give you a headache eventually.
Now that you’ve checked the car’s legal records, it’s time to review the physical appearance. Look for any scratches, dents, and rust around. Watch out for any misaligned panels or inconsistent gaps. The paint color or cosmetics should be the same on every car body’s board.
Be mindful of the rust. Inspect the body for any blistered paint or visible corrosion. Try to open and close each door, the hood, and the trunk also. Gently lift and let go of each entry, especially the driver’s door. In this way, you can determine if it is loose on its hinges. If yes, investigate the rubber seals if they’re tearing or rot.
After inspecting the body, you can now move to other things like glass. First, make sure there are no cracks or damages seen. Any small stone chips or cracks in the windshield and windows will lead to a costly repair.
You can also walk around the car and push down on each corner to check if the shock absorbers are in good condition. Note that the car should rebound once only. If you hear any clunking sound, the wheel bearings or suspension joints may be shot.
Lastly, for exterior, like tires, lights, and lenses. Have a companion to confirm that all lights are working, intact, and not cracked or fogged. Next, check the tire’s life span and brands. If you happen to find a different tire brand, ask why they used other brands for replacement. When done, examine any bulges or dents on each wheel. Ensure that the spare tire is in good condition and the proper jack lug wrench is present.
You spent most of your time inside the vehicle, so the moment you open the car’s door, you need to check what you see, smell, and feel inside.
Sniff the interior. Any rotten or moldy smell might indicate something. There can be water leaks, so investigate the floor mats and any wet spots on the carpet. You can also tell if the previous owner is a smoker through its odor. If you’re a non-smoker, this can be hard to get rid of in the following days.
Next is to try out the seats and check their upholstery. If it’s leather, probably, some might be ripped or badly worn, especially for those with high mileage. Think if it is acceptable to you. Don’t forget to check the pedals too. The rubber on the brake, clutch, and gas pedals indicate use.
It is also good to try the sound system, AM, FM, radio, players, and any music players you can connect to Bluetooth. After that, turn on the ignition switch to make sure all the warning lights are working. Then, when the engine is running, switch on the aircon and feel how fast it cools the car. Be critical in air conditions, the next thing you don’t want to happen is to go to the repair shop and have your compressor, condenser, or evaporator fixed.
The underneath car checking is necessary. You should verify if there are any oil drips or oily leaks. If you find any, it’s not a good sign and will be an additional repair cost. Carefully listen to the engine sound also. Its sound will tell you if there’s something not right.
Let’s go to the fluids. Check the power steering oil, the quality of the water in the radiator. Engine oil should be black or dark brown but not gritty. Look over if the oil is already mixed with the water. Inspect each oil cap. If it’s too messy, that means the previous owner rarely changes the oil.
Lastly, if the auction host allows it, do your test drive. It will help you determine the car’s comfortability. You’ll know if the steering wheel is soft and not automatically going from left to right while driving. Watch out for your brakes and shifting’s too. Attentively listen to the suspension sounds. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary sounds while driving.
When done, check the exhaust smoke color. It should be grayish. If it’s white, there might be any leaks. If it’s too black, the engine consumes so much fuel. If it’s bluish-white, the engine is burning oil.
In case the host doesn’t allow a test drive, you can start up the engine at least and hear how it sounds.
To save you time, there are also car checking tools available online called car scanners. Car scanners can be used for 1997 and up models. It’s like plugging the equipment in a computer box, and it will scan the whole car. Afterwards, it will show its diagnosis on its mini screen, and when selected, it explains the error found.
Car experts usually do the scanning before checking and after the test drive. It is good to have, for it will give you clues about what you should be checking moving forward.
Before you close the deal, especially if you don’t know how to inspect a used car, have it checked by your mechanic. If you don’t have any, ask permission from the dealer to bring the vehicle to the nearest repair shop for a final inspection. Dealers usually have their mechanic, so they might say it is unnecessary because they already did it. However, if it’s from a private seller, offer him to follow you to the repair shop for his assurance. It would be best to insist on having your mechanic look at it, so it’s better to bring your mechanic friend during your inspection.
Know that most cars bought in auctions have an “As is where is” clause, which means that any future car repair costs or problems will fall under the buyer after purchasing the car. Note that if you find any high-cost repair during your inspection, you can always negotiate with the dealer to lessen the repossessed car’s price. If both parties agree, have all your papers and payment process, and you can now drive your newly quality used car.