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What to Look for When Buying a Used Vehicle

If you need a new car but have a tight budget, a pre-owned or used vehicle can be a perfectly good choice to make. Plenty of car manufacturers, such as Toyota, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, and more, are known for their cars’ durability and ability to hold value, which can make buying used an even more attractive proposition.

However, because used vehicles have been around the block a few times, you’ll want to do your due diligence when picking one out for yourself. Read on to find out the most common issues a used car can have and what to look for when buying a pre-owned SUV, truck, or car.

Don’t Take Their Word for It, See for Yourself!

Used Vehicles

One of the best ways to make sure you get what you pay for with a used car is by inspecting it yourself for signs of wear and tear. Ask your salesperson to take you out to the car lot to give the car a once-over. Here’s a list of systems and other things to check:

  • Body condition: Check every panel of the car’s body, looking for dents, scratches, and rust. Make sure the paint on every panel is the same color, and there aren’t any large gaps between panels – that can signal a shoddy repair. Make sure each door is snug on its hinges, and inspect rubber seals for rot or tearing.
  • Suspension: Walk around the car and press down on each corner. If the suspension is good, it should come back up just once, not bounce up and down like a trampoline.
  • Lights, lenses, and windows: Check the glass on all of these parts and make sure it’s in good shape, not cracked, and not fogged over – that can indicate water in the headlights.
  • Tires: Make sure the tires are evenly worn and still have at least 1/16th of an inch of tread. Also, check the sidewalls for scuffing, cracks, and bulges, and look for dents or cracks on each wheel. Don’t forget to check on the spare tire and related hardware!
  • Interior: You’ll spend most of your time inside this space, so inspect it well. Check for bad smells, like stale cigarettes or mildew; try out all the seats (even in the back); turn on the car without starting it to check all the indicator lights, and push every button and turn every knob to make sure they work. Also, check the roof, trunk, sound system, and A/C and heating systems.
  • Hoses and belts: Make sure all the rubber under the hood is supple and smooth, and feel the drive belts to see if they’re frayed.
  • Fluids and radiator: Check the owner’s manual to see where to check the fluid levels and check all their levels and quality. Make sure the radiator isn’t leaking by looking for greenish stains on its outside.
  • Battery: If you can, ask a competent mechanic to check the charging system for the battery and perform a load test.
  • Under the vehicle: If you can check under the vehicle for drips or leaks on the ground. Also, look at the constant-velocity-joint boots and structural damage to the floor plan or fuel tank – that might indicate a past accident.

Take Advantage of Modern Vehicle History Reports

Long gone are the days when you’d buy a used car and hope for the best. Modern vehicle history reports, like CARFAX, AutoCheck, and others, can give you a pretty complete history of any car by looking at its VIN: whether it’s been in an accident, who owned it, and for how long, and more. Vehicle history reports can go a long way toward providing you peace of mind as you look for a new-to-you truck, car, or SUV.

Certified Pre-Owned Takes the Guesswork Out of Buying a Used Car

Vehicle Lineup

If you want the value of buying a used car with many of the perks of buying a new one, most manufacturers today offer some sort of Certified Pre-Owned program. To become a member of these programs, used vehicles must pass multi-point inspections by trained professionals, as well as pass muster with a vehicle history report and sometimes even be driven on a road test.

In return, most Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with extended warranties and other assurances that they’ll work well into your ownership period, as well as deals on service, parts, and more. For the ultimate confidence that you’re buying a car that’s well worth your money, Certified Pre-Owned is the way to go.

Certified Pre-Owned, Quality Used, and More in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

If you’re in the Portland, Happy Valley, Oregon City, or Vancouver areas, and you’re looking for a used car, look no further than one of the 16 dealerships in the Tonkin Automotive Group. Our experienced sales teams will work tirelessly to help you find the car you’re looking for, and our financial departments will get you the best deal when you’ve found it. Plus, our service departments are here to give you the best service available on your pre-owned SUV, car, or truck.

Come see one of our many locations today to start your car-buying journey!

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