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Buying A Used Car: The Ultimate 27 Point Checklist BUYING A USED CAR The Ultimate 27 Point Checklist For many people, buying a used car is daunting. No one wants to be stranded with a lemon, paying for costly repairs the day after they drive the car off the lot. This 27-point checklist will show you the most important things to check when buying your next used car. 1. HOW MUCH CAR CAN YOU AFFORD? A car payment should not be more than 20% of your net pay. Use Edmund's "How much can I afford" calculator to determine your ideal price range: 2. RESEARCH THE RIGHT CAR Make a list of all the things you need your vehicle to do (haul a trailer, go off-road, get great gas mileage) and then make another list of items you want your car to have (color, body style, luxury items, add-ons). Separate the must-haves from really-wants. This way you can make smart trade-off decisions. 3. BRING A FRIEND WHO KNOWS CARS Bring along a friend who knows cars. He or she will possibly spot red flags. If you don't have a car-savvy friend, tell the seller you want to get a mechanical inspection. This inspection typically costs $150-$200. If the seller objects, odds are there is something wrong with the vehicle. 4. MAKE SURE THE CAR IS RESTING ON 5. LOOK FOR UNDER-BODY RUST AND LEVEL GROUND DURING INSPECTION LEAKING FLUIDS If the car leans to one side it might indicate a binding shock absorber or strut, a bad spring or torsion bar, bent suspension parts, or even a twisted chassis. Rust on the vehicle indicates a breakdown of metal. Over time, rust can eat through the door, floorboards, body, frame, and chassis. • Check underneath the car, hinges, and door edges for rust • Lift up the pad or carpet in the trunk and check for rust in floorboards Check for leaking fluids under the car 6. EXAMINE THE EXHAUST SYSTEM 7. EXAMINE THE FRAME OF THE CAR Black spots or greasy grime on the exhaust are big red flags. If white vapor is coming from the exhaust, you could have a blown head gasket or be burning oil. These issues may require replacing the exhaust system which can cost over $2,000. Checking the frame will reveal if the car has been in an accident. Inspect the car's "saddle" (the framework that connects the front fenders and holds the top of the radiator) to make sure it's bolted – not welded – on both sides. Welding indicates parts were replaced after a crash. Learn more about frame damage: 8. INSPECT THE GLASS Look for chips or cracks in the glass. A tiny windshield chip could spread, causing poor visibility or shattering in an accident. Some states have laws making it illegal to drive with a cracked windshield. 9. DOES THE USED CAR PASS SMOG OR EMISSIONS TESTS? Understand the smog or emissions restrictions where you live to make sure the vehicle fits the requirements. Find smog and emission restrictions where you live: 10. WHAT'S UNDER THE HOOD? 11. DOES THE ENGINE HAVE ANY LEAKS, CORROSION, FUNNY SOUNDS, OR SMELLS? Check under the hood for rust, dents, visible damage, or even animals living there (it happens). Examine the fenders for a decal containing the Vehicle ldentification Number (VIN). If the decals are missing, Dark brown oil stains on the engine block indicate a leaky oil pan gasket. Check to see if the previous owner has documentation of oil changes, radiator flushes, any repairs, or any other regularly required maintenance. chances are that the fenders have been replaced due to an accident. 12. CHECK HOSES AND BELTS The radiator hoses should not be soft or cracked. A bad radiator hose could burst, causing extensive damage to your vehicle. Make sure belts are in good condition as well. If the serpentine belt breaks, your vehicle won't be drivable. Normal Fluid Color Normal Fluid Color 13. CHECK THE COLOR OF THE TRANSMISSION FLUID The transmission fluid should be pink or red. It may appear darker in older cars, but the fluid should never look Dark Fluid Color Burnt Fluid black or smell burnt. 14. INSPECT THE INTERIOR FOR UNWANTED SMELLS How does the car smell? Any musty, moldy, or mildew smell could indicate water leaks or damage that requires repairs. Any acidic smoke could indicate the car was owned by a smoker. 15. HOW DO THE SEATS FUNCTION & APPEAR Make sure the seats move and have no unsightly stains or odors. Will you be comfortable driving with the amount of head and leg room? If not, keep looking. 16. ARE THERE ANY WARNING LIGHTS WHEN YOU TURN ON THE CAR? A lit "check engine" light doesn't always mean a serious problem. It could be due to a temporary condition such as a change in humidity or an unsecured gas cap. Ask the seller how long it has been on, and note if the "check engine" light is solid or blinking. Generally, the latter is much more serious. 17. BRAKE CHECK 18. FEEL OF TREPIDATION DURING SLIGHT ACCELERATIONS Does the brake pedal vibrate? Does stepping on the brakes cause squealing or scraping sounds? If so, the car will require a brake repair or entire replacement, which could cost $130-$900. Observe the car's performance when it reaches 45 / 55 / 65 / 75 MPH. Any trepidation might mean worn or dirty ball joints or control arms of the suspension system. Repairs could cost upwards of $1,500. 19. LISTEN FOR VEHICLE NOISES 20. HOW IS THE HEATER/AIR CONDITIONER/CD PLAYER/RADIO? Listen for clunks or other strange noises when you idle or accelerate. There should be no pings, pops, knocks, or backfires. If something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Make sure the amenities – heat, air, radio, CD player are working 21. CHECK THE CAR'S MAKE/MODEL REPUTATION Search consumer reports, recall alerts (, and news articles regarding the used vehicle you are considering. Certain vehicles had mass recalls that, if ignored, could be detrimental to your budget and safety. 22. FIND A VEHICLE HISTORY REPORT Reports include details on accidents, flood damage, number of previous owners, VIN verification, actual mileage, and recall checks. Ask to see a vehicle history report from Carfax or other similar services. Mileage: 1 |2 | 1 5 | 3 | 9 Last oil change: August 2, 2015 23. CROSS CHECK THE ODOMETER WITH THE OWNERS PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE Ask for preventative maintenance documentation. If regular oil changes and other maintenance were done, a car over 100,000 miles will likely last another 100,000. Vehicle Descriptor Vehicle Identifier World Manufacturer Identifier Section Section Assembly Production Year Check Type of information provided Country Manufacturer Type Details Digit Plant Number VIN digits 1 2 4-8 10 11 12-17 Values from example 1 H CM826 3 A 004352 VIN, 1HGCM82633A004352 24. DECODE THE VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER Some scammers will replace the VIN of a stolen car with one that is legally registered. Check the VIN for consistency on all service records, history reports, title documents, and on the car itself (behind driver's side windshield & body panels). This VIN Decoding chart may help: 25. CHECK THE TIRES 26. TEST-DRIVE THE CAR Tires are next on your checklist for buying a used car. Examine tires for feathering, uneven wear, and diminished tread depth. These signs can indicate bad alignment or worn steering and suspension components. While on your test drive simulate the conditions of your normal driving pattern. For example, if you drive a lot on the highway make sure you take the car up to 65 mph. 27. NEGOTIATE THE PRICE Know the Kelley Blue Book ( value of the car so you can negotiate with confidence. Also, consider any needed repairs and factor that cost into the offer you make. • Make a low initial offer, slightly below the market values uncovered in your research • Decide ahead of time how high you will bid before you leave and stick to the number • Don't get derailed by extended warranties or other upsells TIPS • Don't negotiate if you're tired or hungry • Look over all the points in this checklist before you enter a negotiation and use the insights to back up your bids Follow this checklist for buying a used car and you'll be able to avoid the lemons and find a quality vehicle at an affordable price that you can enjoy for many years to come! O RAWHIDE. SOURCES Wallet by Chris Kerr from the Noun Project Magnifying Glass by Joel Avery from the Noun Project broken glass by Ema Dimitrova from the Noun Project Squirrel by Marie Coons from the Noun Project blob by Ryan Speziale from the Noun Project smell by Takao Umehara from the Noun Project Seat Position by Rohan Gupta from the Noun Project Brake by Radu Luchian from the Noun Project Speedometer by Olivier Guin from the Noun Project Ear by Søren Michelsen from the Noun Project CD by Edward Boatman from the Noun Project Car Accident by Laurent Canivet from the Noun Project flat tire by Rohan Gupta from the Noun Project Fingerprint by Wilson Joseph from the Noun Project Jeep by sagit milshtein from the Noun Projec Steering Wheel by Francesco Fraioli from the Noun Projectt http://ww

Buying A Used Car: The Ultimate 27 Point Checklist

shared by jacobgrant on Aug 23
For many people, buying a used car is daunting. No one wants to be stranded with a lemon, paying for costly repairs the day after they drive the car off the lot. Good news. Buying a used car does no...


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