Buying a second-hand car
In this activity, our car expert Jason, takes us through some handy hints for buying a second-hand car and what to look out for.
When inspecting a second-hand car, it is important to look out for signs that the car has had a repair.
1. Inspect the car at a distance
- Look for blemishes in the paintwork
- Look for gaps in the tail lights and bumper bar, do they look uniform?
- Does the bonnet look square and uniform?
- Do the bonnet and boot panels sit flush with the bumper bar?
2. Inspect the car doors and boot
- Look at the flushness of the door panels, as well as window seals
- Check to see how easily the doors open
- Check the inside of the car doors (including boot). Does the seal that connects the outer panel of the doors look like it has a had a factory finish or does it look like it has been repaired?
- Check the paintwork of the bolts in the door hinges. Do they have chips that may have been caused by a spanner? This could indicate that some work has been done to the doors
- Check the spare tyre compartment to see if the seam sealer is original
3. Under the car
- Look for obvious damage
- Is the differential dry?
- Check the bushes and seals under the car for splits and leaks
4. Look at paintwork
There will most likely be carpark dints, but this isn't a big deal. More importantly, keep an eye out for changes in paintwork colour or texture on the panels.
5. Open the bonnet
- Check bolts for signs that they have been removed, e.g. has the paint around bolt been chipped?
- Inspect the chassis rail. Check to see if paint is original and look out for kinks or marks that it has been heated
- Look out for a factory seam sealer finish around engine elements
6. Check fluids and oil
- Are levels good?
- Is the oil burnt or clean? You should be able to see through the oil to the steel of the dip stick if the oil is clean
- Look for oil or fluid leakage around the engine
7. Start the engine
- Listen for ticks or knocks
- Can you smell burning oil?
8. Look at service history
- Has it been serviced at the right intervals?
- Also check the service sticker on the windscreen
Compare the condition of the steering wheel with the odometer reading, e.g. if the odometer reads 100,000 kms yet the steering wheel is quite worn, this could be a sign that the odometer has been tampered with.
10. Call your mechanic
Lastly, if everything is looking good, call your mechanic for a thorough inspection. That way you've got the best chance of buying yourself a good used car.