You should definitely watch this video if you are planning to buy a used car. Learn exactly what you need to check.
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12 Things To Check Before You Buy a Used Car
1. Paint & Scratches - Do not look at the car at night. You won't see a thing. If there are minor scratches, no problem, it's not brand new, but, look for repainted elements. That indicates rust or worse, the car was involved in an accident.
2. Check the serial numbers. I don't know about you guys in the United States, but for me, as a MOT tester in Europe, the first thing that I do as an Inspector I check the serial numbers - VIN, engine code, and documents. This is important to see if the car has been stolen. You can cut the VIN and you can weld a different VIN. That means that you have a different car, or, it's stolen. Put it simple. Believe it or not, I have actually seen a few cases.
3. Do some research! - before you decide what car you want, do some research. Ask someone who has the car that you want, google, look on YouTube, and the best place to learn more about frequent problems is to go on a car forum. Kindly ask someone there to help you out with some answers.
4. Leaks - make sure that there are no oil leaks, antifreeze leaks, AC leaks, brake fluid leaks. If there are, it means that the car has serious mileage and serious problems. Well... not everytime, but most of the times.
5. Keys - make sure that the seller gives you both keys. I worked at Suzuki for a few months, and every brand new car, comes with 2 keys. If the owner has only 1 and you want to make another copy, it will cost you around $200 to make one. And this price is pretty much the same whether you have a cheap Suzuki or a BMW. Pretty expensive.
6. Check vehicle history - make sure that the owner has a complete service history of the car. Was the engine oil changed on time? Was the timing belt changed on time? Brake pads? Brake fluids? Other parts? Everything needs to be written there. If the car doesn't have this, buy it only if it's super cheap and you shouldn't care. If the car that you want to buy is worth $1500, you don't really need a service history, just make sure that it still works fine and you're good.
7. Number of owners - I don't know how other people judge a car, but if I want to buy a BMW from 2012 for example and I see that the car has like 7 owners in 5 years... something has to be wrong there. A hidden flaw, a hidden problem. Why is everyone selling it?
8. Here's a professional power tip - run a MOT test - It's just $20 in Romania and probably less than $50 in any place around the globe. By running a complete MOT test, you will know if the car has any mechanical problem, how the emissions are and this is really important nowadays. Plus, if the car fails the emissions test, it can suggest that the engine has problems, the catalyst has problems, the DPF has problems or it was deleted, and you don't want that, and the list goes on. If the car that you want to buy, fails the MOT test, that's really, really BAD. You will also know how the brakes are, if there's any imbalance between the wheels, if the brake calipers work properly, etc.
9. Run a full OBD diagnosis. Run a complete scan. The most important parts are: Engine Faults, Brake Faults and Airbag Faults, but you should run a complete scan, especially if you want a newer car. The car should have zero faults or at least, to have minor ones.
10. Make sure that everything works - lights, buttons, mirrors, music, handbrake, everything.
11. Take a look at the fluids - engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, check the battery if it's in good condition, and also the alternator if it puts out between 13.8 and 14.6V.
12. Testdrive the car - listen to any sound or noise. Make sure that the steering wheel is straight, the alignment of the wheels is good, the tires are good, no bearing sounds, no bushing sounds, no nothing. If you love how the car handles and it's in good condition, it means that you should buy it.