5 Warning Signs When Buying A Used Car In 2019

author avatarStaff
28th August, 2019
Filed under Car Topics

Looking to get into a used car? Here are some warning signs that if you spot you should run a mile.

nissan 180sx with sr20det

Body Panels That Don’t Match Up

Have you looked at a car and thought that the line between a door and the body of the car didn’t quite seem to match up? Many used car sellers will try to pass this off as minor surface irregularities. The hood gap seems really wide? It’s just the lighting!

Or, quite possibly, it’s a sign the car has been roughed up and repaired. If you’re not sure the seller is being honest, get a PPSR report from revscheckreport.com.au/. It’ll tell you whether the car has ever been written off in an accident and needed repairs. The car may not be worth the price they’re asking.

Looks Good Outside, Not So Good Inside

You should always test-drive a car when you go to buy it. While you’re in there, pay close attention to the inside. Was the outside really glossy and nice, but there’s a huge rip in the interior fabrics? Stains? Are there ants crawling out of the air conditioning (an actual problem the article author had once).

Even if there’s nothing dodgy, you still want to assess how comfortable the car is to ride, and its storage abilities.

Manipulated Odometers

A good average for a car is about 20,000km a year. Ex-government or business vehicles might be more; some purely personal vehicles might be less. But if you multiply the age of the car by 20,000, that should be near your odometer reading.

Cars that fall way below this reading are cause for concern. Check the front and rear bumper — a car with lots of highway travel won’t be able to escape small scratches and dents from small stones and pebbles. If the front and rear are scratched to hell, but the odometer is unusually low, start questioning the seller.

Worn out steering wheels, seatbelt webbing, and pedal rubbers are also sign a car is heavily used, and so a low mileage will be very suspicious.

Worn Down Steering Gear

The last thing you want is a car with a worn-out steering mechanism or damaged linkage. It’s a waste of money, and dangerous to drive. Luckily, it’s easy to check for.

Set the car idling, and move the steering wheel left and right. If there’s any slack or any clunking noises, be wary.

Test drive the car on a smooth, flat road. The wheel shouldn’t rock or need constant realignment.

These issues can also indicate problems with other areas of the car — drivelines, tires, suspension, the frame itself. All of these point to the car being an expensive fixer-upper in the future.

Insufficient Paperwork

No service or maintenance records? Logbook nowhere to be found? No receipts available to you?

No sale.

Well, maybe not. But seriously reconsider. A responsible car owner and seller should keep detailed paperwork of their vehicle’s history. Said paperwork should be available to you when you go to buy the car. This is especially true of a dealership — it should hopefully be a requirement that they not buy a car for resale without the paperwork being available to them.

If your heart is set on a car that lacks paperwork, there are two things you must do:

  • Have the car thoroughly inspected by a trusted mechanic or service (such as RACQ, RACV).
  • Get a PPSR report using the car’s VIN or registration number.

What you should do: Join the owners community

Every car model will have it’s own owner’s following on social networks and forums. Join these before you purchase your new car and ask current owners exactly what you should be on the lookout for specific to that model. This can save you thousands in the future by knowing what to look out for.

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