Buy a used car like a pro
<top>You're probably reading this article because you don't know enough about buying a new-to-you car. Like millions of others, you think Carfax has magical powers to reveal a car's entire history. Wrong! Carfax does provide bits and pieces of a car's repair and service history, but it can't tell you the whole truth.
The biggest mistake buyers make is thinking just because a car was in an accident that it's a bad car to buy. I know plenty of reputable repair shops with extraordinarily talented technicians. Want to know what makes a car a poor investment — bad care and bad repairs.
I'm Marty Ruth from Auto Appraisal Network – Detroit. I have over thirty years of collision repair and pre-purchase inspection experience. I've seen lots, and I mean lots, of vehicles with clean Carfax reports that have substandard repairs. Until Carfax and the psychic hotline join forces, a car's history will remain a mystery.
Here's what the pros look for when inspecting a preowned vehicle:
1.) Bare metal marks on hinge bolts – Spring open the hood, doors, and trunk and look at the screw and holt heads for raw metal marks. Factory-installed panels will not have tooling marks.
2.) Tape lines in jambs – While you have the hood, doors, and trunk open, feel the edges of each panel for unsmooth surfaces that feel like the end of a sheet of paper. Painters mask panels for a repaint with tape and paper. The excess paint builds up on panels with fine, heavy edges that you can feel with your fingertips. There's never a tape edge from the manufacturer.
3.) Missing emblems and nameplates – Replacing these items adds expense to body repairs. Often, customers or dealers will opt out of buying new ones to save money. This makes even the most experienced car buyer leery. Research the vehicle online for images of badging standards for each model.
4.) Manufacturer Logos/trademarks on glass – For example, Ford Motor Company embosses its glass with FoMoCo (refer to image). Windshield replacements are quite common and extremely problematic if not done by a professional glass company.
5.) Loose, detached, or distorted windshield mouldings – Newer cars have bonded windshield mouldings. This means the glass and trim are sold as a unit. These are VERY costly to replace properly. I often tell customers to look for another car solely based on this fact alone. A modern windshield is part of the structural integrity of the vehicle.
6.) Manufacturer name or logo on headlamps – Aftermarket parts (parts not made by the car manufacturer) are a staple in the collision repair industry. These parts are cheaper effective and used to keep repair costs down. Thankfully, aftermarket companies are not allowed to replicate the manufactures name or logo. Inspect the headlamp lens for trademarked logos, and names refer to images).
7.) Uneven tire wear – A well-balanced tire with a problem-free suspension will not wear a tire unevenly. Many people and dealers opt to keep replacing tires than pay for expensive mechanical work. Uneven tire wear is the tell-tale sign of bigger problems. There's a problem with the suspension or, worse, the frame if the tread depth is worn more on the inside, outside, or center.
The best advice isn't to trust a seller or Carfax to tell you the whole truth. If you genuinely want peace of mind about putting your family in a preowned vehicle, you need to have an experienced, knowledgeable auto appraiser working for you. Before you buy, call Auto Appraisal Network – Detroit. We specialize in pre-purchase inspection appraisals.