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Buying a Used Car? Download Our Used Car Checklist

Buying a Used car is often the perfect way to acquire a high-quality car at a lower cost. However, the purchase of a used car has always been fraught with risks. Ideally, used cars should be bought from a reputable dealer. Dealers have a bond that can be used to reimburse the client if something goes wrong. If a customer buys it from a “guy” they met at a coffee shop, the odds are that he will not be traceable in the event of problems. Second, there is no minimum warranty period for a car bought from an individual as opposed to a dealer.

The following factors have an important impact on the value of a used car:

  • Mileage – the more mileage, even on a recent car, the lower the market value.
  • Model and model year
  • Condition – interior, body (paint, scratches, etc.) mechanical components and power train (engine and transmission)

Three main dangers await the purchaser:

  • Buying a car that is not in good condition or the condition in which it was sold
  • Buying a car that was previously damaged in an accident
  • Buying a stolen car that has been given a new identity

Although the first two dangers are real and can result in a purchase being less valuable than intended, nothing is worse than the purchase of a stolen car. In many jurisdictions, even if a customer made the purchase in good faith, the car will be repossessed and the money lost.

Tips to reduce the likelihood of purchasing a stolen car:

Ask questions to the seller:

  • How long have you had the car?
  • Were you the first owner of the car?
  • Did you know the previous owner of the car?
  • Has the car been involved in a collision?
  • Has the car had major repairs on the power train (engine transmission)?
  • Has the car been repainted

Verify the veracity of the “sales pitch” story.

Take the time to inspect the car. Look for changes in paint colour and imperfections in the finish. Ask your motor registration branch to give you the vehicle history. If there are inconsistencies between the story and reality, be careful.

Have the car inspected by a licensed mechanic.

Ideally you should have the car inspected be an authorized dealer, who knows the models strengths and weaknesses well. In the case of a more recent model, ask the mechanic to check the mechanical condition of the car and ascertain if the car has been involved in a collision (minor or major).

Ask the dealer to check the warranty status on cars that should still be covered by a warranty.

This information will cover two key elements: what repairs were done and more importantly, when and where the last warranty repair was conducted. This information can prove useful when comparing the sellers story with reality.