Buying the Reliable Used Car

A few weeks ago we talked about the maintenance needed for a new Kanata car. Today, we’re examining what you should be looking for when buying a used car (for those of us who cannot afford a new car).

Buying a used car used to be a lot like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to get.  Fortunately, you can now get a history of any major issue a car has experienced with a CARFAX report. Additionally, you can take your car into a Kanata garage and a  mechanic can use onboard diagnostics to reveal the condition of the car and foresee upcoming issues and Kanata car maintenance needed.

It’s good advice never to make a final decision on purchasing a used car without taking it into a Kanata garage for a workup – but you don’t want to taking every single car you are considering in, so here are some tips you can use to weed cars out yourself.

  • Look out for ripples or irregularities in the sheet metal which could point to a collision and body work. Look closely for mismatched paint on body panels, or paint which has an orange-peel texture.
  • Take a look at the carpeting and the interior – if it is worn, stained, and an all-around mess, it’s probably a good bet that this person has not taken care of the car, inside or under the hood.
  • Look under the hood – it is an engine so it shouldn’t be so clean as you would eat off of it… but look for leaks anywhere on the engine. Leave the hood up and start the car, let it warm up and sniff carefully for unusual smells such as burning oil, burning transmission fluid or leaking antifreeze.
  • If you feel comfortable enough to check the fluids, pull the transmission dipstick. The fluid should be magenta colored with a slightly sweet smell. Fluid that’s darker or has a burnt toast smell means that the transmission has been overheated, poorly maintained and/or run with a low fluid level.
  • And of course take the car for a test drive. Listen for loose parts are unusual sounds. Keep the radio off and don’t let the owner talk your ear off during the drive so you cannot hear what is going on.  Take the car to speed on the highway and make sure you go over a bump or two to check out the suspension. Finally, does the vehicle pull to one side while braking, lock up any of the wheels or have a pulsation through the brake pedal?

None of the above are a substitute for getting the car into a Kanata garage before you buy it… but hopefully it saves you from taking a lemon into the garage and wasting your time!

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