This the second part of an ongoing series on how to buy a used car. In the first part, we discussed pre-inspection.
Inspect Paint and Body Alignment
Visually inspect the exterior of the car for any body dings and/or paint damage. Check the alignment of the bumpers, doors, hood, trunk, tail lights, and headlights to see if the gaps are consistent all around. Misaligned panels may show history of an accident. You may knock on misaligned sheetmetal to check for signs of body filler being used. See if the sound is consistent with the rest of the body.
Watch Out For Rust
Look for signs of rust, especially if the owner’s residence is located near the ocean. Saltwater causes rust, and even one-year-old vehicles are no exception. Also check the plastic rubber moldings and seals.
Check Everything That Moves
As you go around, operate anything that moves. The doors should shut snugly, windows should open and close fully, the hood, trunk, and gas door/cap should open and close without problems. Again, inconsistencies may show signs of a previous accident. Check the rubber weatherstrips as well. Damage may cause leaks into the cabin.
Make sure all lights function. Park lights, signal lights, hazards, headlight high and low beams, brakelights, reverse lights, and plate number illuminators. If there are additional accessories such as fog lights and retracting radio antennas, make sure to check on these as well.
Be prepared to get down and dirty. Inspect the underside with a flashlight. CHeck the tires’ tread depth and check for uneven wear. Check the steering and axle rubber boots if they’re torn or damaged. While you’re under, it will be good if you can check for signs of oil leaking under the engine. Areas with caked-on dirt such as muffler and chassis frames may hide rust underneath. Poke at them with a pen. If it doesn’t puncture, it should be good.
When you get up, check the suspension by vigorously shaking the vehicle on all corners to simulate the vehicle going through rough road conditions. Squeaks indicate the suspension bushings need replacement. And if the suspension feels too soft or soggy, and bounces more than ounce, the shocks/dampers need replacement.
Take note of the tires installed at the time of inspection. If you decide to come back and purchase the vehicle, unethical sellers may replace these with older pieces.
CustomPinoyRides’ Guide to Buying a Used Car is an ongoing series. On the next series, we’ll discuss Engine Inspection.