Buying a used car can sometimes be a guessing game. Even if the vehicle appears to be in good shape, how do you know that it hasn’t been damaged by flood or bad weather? A thorough car inspection can help. Let’s see what to look for.
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Even before you look at the car, ask to see the vehicle title. If you read carefully, you might find terminology that reveals the car has seen some tough times. Look out for terms such as:
- Total loss
- Repairable wreck
Any of these mean that the vehicle might have serious problems that you can’t see on the surface. However, even if the title looks clean, that doesn’t guarantee that the vehicle has not seen significant water or bad weather damage. It pays to take a very close look before you make an offer.
Use Your Nose
Smell around the car for must or mold. The trunk is a place where mold can hide so sniff around there as well. If there is a strong perfume odor, the seller might be trying to hide something.
Look For Signs Of Water
Water or dampness can be felt in the crease between seat cushions or in the spare tire wheel storage area. Also, push down hard on the carpets as you might feel moisture soak through. You can also look for dark lines in the interior where water may have stagnated and left a mark.
Examine the fabric of the cabin ceiling as well; you may discover water or mold spots hiding up there.
Snow Damage Signs
Cars that have been left parked for long periods during the winter months can also experience severe damage. Most of this occurs due to the chemicals and salt that road crews use to clean snow off the streets. When a plow packs snow and slush into a car, corrosion can result.
Using a flashlight, look for deep corrosion under the wheel wells, under bumpers, and around the muffler area.
Also, tires and wheels can get deformed from freezing temperatures and packed snow buildup. Look for tire bulges and ask to go for a test ride. Note if you feel any wobbling or shaking. Ask to drive at different velocities since some vibrations only appear at certain speeds.
If you look at the surface of a new car, the reflection is smooth, like a mirror. If you see any blurring or unevenness on a used car’s finish, it could mean there was prior body damage that was repaired. Also, inspect for any obvious rust, especially around the lower edges of the car’s body panels.
Professional vehicle inspectors have a keen eye that often spots damage that the average person can’t see.
Want to have a qualified external vehicle inspection before you buy? Then order a CARCHEX vehicle inspection and get a detailed report sent directly to your email.
Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on March 27, 2015