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Before You Purchase a Used Car

Summer is drawing to a close and your kids are heading back to school and maybe even  off to college. You begin to think about schedules and trying to figure out how be in two places at the same time. Is it time to think about a second or third car for your teenager, college student or maybe yourself? If so, what type of car should I look for and where should I look?

Once you determine a budget and type of vehicle that will suit your needs, checking the safety ratings of a vehicle is high on my list. Searching www.nhtsa.gov/ is a good source for vehicle safety and recall information. Lastly, a good pre-purchase inspection is highly recommended. This is the step that could save you hundreds if not thousands in some cases.

Whether your purchasing a used vehicle from a family member, friend, neighbor, or used car sales lot a pre-purchase inspection often times brings things to the surface that was unknown to the previous owner. Many times over the years I have driven customers vehicles for a drivability complaint or taken them home in their car only to hear a growling wheel bearing, drive axle or transmission bearing making a noticeable amount of noise. When driving with them I would ask how long their car was making noise and would often hear, ” What noise”? Most bearing noises start small and continue to get louder as the metal bearing surface pits or wears. This can take several weeks or months to worsen. This slow progression will often be unnoticeable to the everyday driver of that vehicle and will not know of the needed repairs. It’s a good idea to turn the radio off once and a while and truly listen to your vehicle. Catching items or systems with problems early will often save you money or leaving you stranded.

Trying to get as much of the service history as possible about a used vehicle is also important. Verifying if a major service like a timing belt was done before purchase is good to know so it can be adjusted for in the purchase price if not. A broken timing belt can leave you stranded and cause major engine damage if not serviced when it’s due. A record of oil changes and other light maintenance is also important to the longevity of the vehicle.

A Carfax report is a good idea, but is not perfect if the data was not reported to where it can be identified or sourced. Nothing is a good substitute for a thorough inspection by a skilled technician. Body, frame and flood damage are usually identifiable during this process. If the vehicle is sold in an emission required county it must have a current passing inspection to be sold in that county. During an inspection, a check of emission monitors (on board computer self tests) should be preformed as well as a code scan. A visual inspection and road test of all major vehicle systems should be preformed as well as a test fluid levels and condition.

Lastly, the mileage of a used vehicle should always be considered in the equation as well as the type of miles driven. Was it driven on the highway with little traffic or was it in the soup of Atlanta traffic? It does make a difference. Some vehicles, mostly trucks are coming with hour meters which may be a more accurate way to measure the operation of a vehicle. Not so long ago 100,000 miles were considered near the end in the life of a vehicle. Most vehicles built after 2005 will last comfortably in the 200,000 range if well taken care of. That said depending on your budget, finding a vehicle in the 100,000 mile range or less is best to get a good return on your purchase as well as a good inspection before hand.

We can help you with your used car questions or needs.

 

Kevin Hough, Pres – ASE Certified Master Technician, L1 Advanced Level Specialist

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Cedarcrest Auto Care
8653 Hiram Acworth Hwy
Dallas GA 30157

770-917-9005

Monday – Friday 8am-6pm Saturday 8am-1pm

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