Don’t Get Scammed When Buying a Used Car
Tips on Getting a Great Used Car
If you’re in the market to upgrade your vehicle, and you want to save some cash, then you probably don’t want to visit the new car dealership. Within the first month of owning that new vehicle, it depreciates about 10% in value. To get the best deal: buy something that is used.
Often you can find really great deals on used vehicles that are only a few months to a few years old. But there is always a risk. Sometimes those great deals are because the car you seek to buy has been in a major wreck, has mechanical issues, or overall is going to die shortly after you buy it.
As the premier auto body shop in Billings, we have put together a list of things you need to look out for so that you don’t get taken when buying a new rig.
Check the Vehicle’s Value
There are many ways to find a vehicle. You can hit up a used car lot, browse ads from individuals, or even spot them on the street corner with a “for sale” sign in the window. How you find them isn’t quite as important as how you make sure they’re a good deal.
When you have found one, double check to see if the price is set right. You can use both the NADA website and the Kelley Blue Book site. If the price is lower than the site says, you may be in for a good deal. If it is higher, then you have some negotiation power.
Get a Vehicle Report
If a vehicle has been in an accident, and the damages were covered by insurance, it will have been reported. There are different ways to check into this.
The Title – If the damage was severe, the vehicle will have a rebuilt or salvaged title. These vehicles have low value.
Online Report – There are a handful of online agencies that track vehicles. Autocheck, Carfax, and Hagerty and three of the trusted sites.
Many dealerships, and some private parties, will run these reports for you. Keep in mind though, if someone is trying to hide something, they may alter/forge the reports so they look better than they are. If they’re trying to scam you, they won’t think twice about a little more deceit.
It’s always good to run your own report.
Give the Engine the Once Over
Before you test drive the vehicle, give it the once over. Even if you’re not a mechanic, you can look for anomalies in the engine. Make sure it’s clean, check for items that seem out of place, watch for significant oil spatter or other signs of leaks. Check for fraying wires, and if the battery looks in rough shape.
During the test drive, check how the vehicle handles. Speed up quickly, brake sharply, turn tight, and listen for off noises. Obviously be safe, and do this in an empty parking lot if possible.
If your initial check shows that everything is in order, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Most mechanics will give a vehicle their pre-purchase inspection for a low rate and let you know what, if anything, needs to be done.
Give the Body the Once Over
After you give the engine the once-over, and before you take it to the mechanic, make sure you check out the body. A few things to look for here:
Minor scratches and dents – tiny scratches and dents won’t affect the vehicle’s performance, but they can give you bargaining power. You can buff some out, or repair them.
Big dents – Bigger dents can cause issues and may indicate unseen damage.
Signs of repairs – Sloppy repairs are usually rushed. They could be a cover-up of major problems.
Stuck doors – Doors and trunks that won’t close properly mean there has likely been a wreck and the frame is crooked.
Major damage that has been repaired may show up on the vehicle report. But it might not if the repairs were done at home or paid out of pocket. Be wary if the vehicle doesn’t seem right, or shows signs of major damage.
Keep it Maintained
If you have inspected it, the mechanic has inspected it, and all is in order, then congratulations on not getting scammed when buying a used vehicle! But now it’s your turn to make sure things go well.
Keeping the vehicle maintained means that it will last a long time, and hold more value when you go to sell it. Read through our vehicle maintenance blog, and remember that having your vehicle professionally detailed every 6 months will keep it in tops shape!
Big Sky Collision Center – Auto Body Repairs in Billings
If you do need your vehicle repaired, or to have it detailed, just give us a call at 406-259-6328 and we will get you scheduled!