We’re going to be straight with you: there are many ways sellers can dupe unsuspecting buyers, from exorbitant pricing to faults within the mechanical operation or electrical systems of a vehicle.
So whether you’re buying from an online marketplace, auction or a second-hand car dealer, a used car check is non-negotiable.
Once you think you’ve found your dream car, ensure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare: call our professional car inspector to complete a comprehensive check to uncover any issues you might not be able to identify on your own.
What are some tips on buying a used car?
When searching for the car of your dreams, remember that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
By undertaking a used car inspection in Melbourne with a professional car inspector, you can confidently understand how it will really perform once you get it on the road.
Here are 10 tips you and your inspector can use to investigate your next potential car!
1. Open the bonnet
Inspecting under a car’s bonnet is a crucial action you and your inspector will take to assess the car’s history and current condition.
Under the bonnet, you can assess if the car’s had periodical servicing done by checking the levels and condition of:
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
- Antifreeze coolant
- Power steering oil
- Windscreen washer fluid
- Brake fluid
- Battery acid levels
You can also check for leaks of any of these and the age and condition of the battery.
2. Check tyres
Feeling the firmness of the tires is another good indication of the condition and standard that the car is at.
If the tyres are flat or have tread separation but the current owner claims to have been driving around in it perfectly, then this may be cause for concern.
Driving with a flat or over inflated tyre can cause more damage to other components of the car, such as brake lines, suspension, ball joints, control arm bushes, link arms, rotors, sway bar links and brake calipers.
3. Read the mileage
Analysing how many kilometres the car has driven can be a good indication of the car’s health.
However, you always need to compare this figure against the model, make, and especially the year the vehicle was manufactured.
You should also consider the terrain the car has driven in, such as city, bushland, outback or rural.
What is good mileage for a used first car?
When looking for standard mileage, first consider how old the car is.
You also need to consider its purpose. Was it a private passenger vehicle that was only driven a few times a week? Or perhaps a van used for transporting goods five days a week? Used for towing heavy cargo?
People generally drive15,000-25,000 km a year. So if a car is 10 years old, you should expect the car’s mileage to be anywhere between 150,000-250,000km.
Prestige used cars in Melbourne might have extensive mileage, but the car’s reputation and status might make them more expensive than a newer car with less mileage.
4. Evaluate the price
Compare the price they are offering with the mileage and the other components outlined in this blog.
This is also where a used car inspection comes in handy: uncovering hidden defects that could end up costing you – the buyer – can help you gain tremendous buying power in negotiating a lower price for the purchase of the vehicle.
5. Check records
Research, the brand, make, model, and year of the car and read any reviews you can find.
Your due diligence can help uncover more general information and the particular model you’re interested in. You might discover something negative like an airbag recall, or something positive like it can still drive efficiently after extensive mileage.
6. Check the underbody
Like checking under the bonnet, checking the underbody can give you an insight into the car’s internal processes and condition. From beneath your car, your independent car inspection can check:
- Oil and fluid leaks
- Transmission linkage wear
- Muffler or resonator leaks
- Driveshaft play or wear
- Suspension movement
- Structural rust and corrosion
- Cooling system issues
- Excessive engine blow-by
- Wheel alignment issues
- Drive belt wear
- Steering system wear
- Fuel system problems
You’re not going to understand if all these items are intact based on your own intuition, so you need to rely on an independent car inspection to check these for you.
7. Inspect the essentials
Now it’s time to go back to basics: when you turn on the car, check the essentials are working properly, such as the:
- Air conditioning and heating
- Fan and demisters
- Headlights, hazard lights, and brake lights
- Windscreen and wiper operation
- Electric windows
8. In-car entertainment
We also need to check that your head unit or command centre is in good operational order.
Check the FM and AM radio and for cars that have an antenna, that it is in-tact and free from damage.
If the car has Bluetooth phone connection and/or an auxiliary or usb plug, observe that they work by connecting your phone and playing music.
9. Take it out on the road!
Arguably the most exciting part of the inspection: the test drive.
This is one of the most important tips because, after all, driving is what you’ll be doing with it!
Your independent vehicle inspection report includes a 3-5km test drive. During this test, we get a real “feel” for the car, checking things like steering, wheel balance, brake shudder, alignment and tracking, suspension, acceleration, transmission and diff, any strange noises, and general bearing noises or vertical knocking.
And step 10: Book a pre-purchase car inspection!
Buy Smart Vehicle Checks visits your dream car on site and performs in-depth, comprehensive car checks to give you complete confidence in your big purchase!
We’re dedicated to helping people all across Melbourne find their next dream car.
We visit on site, so can attend to a dealership or private seller (with their consent). The inspection usually takes around 1-1.5 hours, and at the end, you will receive a verbal report, up to 70-80 high-resolution images, and my personal, unbiased opinion on the overall condition of the vehicle.
So whether you’re looking for a used car for a teenager who’s about to get their license, or are searching specifically for a classic car vehicle inspection, I’d love to help you out!