PluginsBecause many Europeans can’t afford a new car, the market for used cars has become hot hot hot, and many people who previously only bought new now find themselves sifting through pre-owned vehicles at a time when high gas prices greatly impact their purchase. Here’s a few tips to help these newbies navigate an often-frustrating buying process of buying a fuel-sipping car.
#1) Check Essential Fluids And The Air Filter
This is something a new car will almost certainly take for granted; that all the fluid levels are where they need to be. First and foremost, check the oil; if the oil level is low, smells funky, or has coolant in it, you know this is a car with a sketchy service history. Oil, coolant, and transmission fluid levels should all be checked, and while you’re at it check out the air filter too.
A dirty air filter will make the engine work harder, hurting gas mileage. While you’re under there, just look the engine over as a whole. Is it clean? Are there any replacement parts? Take note and ask questions.
#2) Listen To The Engine
After you’ve checked the motor over, start it up and listen, and listen carefully. Some sounds for you to listen for are sucking sounds, which could indicate a vacuum leak, as well as any metal-on-metal grinding. Squeaky belts or pulleys are another indicator that the owner hasn’t been up-to-date on maintenance, and there could be other problems below the surface.
#3) Look For Rust, Dents, And Dings
Beyond the aesthetics of it all, a beat-up car could indicate a driver or owner who simply didn’t care what happened to their ride. Obvious signs of neglect, like cigarette burns on the seats, old stains, or thick layers of dust show just how little this owner cared. This could manifest itself in mechanical issues that could affect reliability and fuel economy. A dirty car will get worse fuel economy than a clean one, and loading a car with unnecessary garbage doesn’t help efficiency either.
#4) Tires, Tires, Tires!
Possibly the most important part of any car that is also the easiest to neglect are the tires. But as the point of contact between car and ground, good tires can mean the difference between a close call and a trip to the hospital. Are the tires namebrand or knockoffs? Is there any tread left? Did they opt for low-rolling resistance tires, or snow tires, which can hurt fuel economy? My advice; never, ever skimp on tires.
#5) Leverage The Internet
Never before have car buyers been as empowered as they are today, as the Internet puts all the information you need at your fingertips. First, figure out exactly what car or cars you want and can afford, and use fuel economy calculators to figure out which ride works best for your area and commute.
Then go to websites like Carshop.co.uk to shop around prices. Once you had a good idea of the going rate on your ride of choice, make phone calls and send emails to potential sellers, playing one dealer against the other. Most dealers have a larger margin to play with on used cars, especially in a market like Europe. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive in your haggling; figure out a (realistic) price and stick to your guns.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to get an affordable and fuel-efficient ride that should last you many years to come.
This post was generously supported by Carshop.co.uk, an online website for buying used cars.
Image: Bill Herndon