In the market for a new set of wheels, or, new to you, that is? If so, tread lightly because buyers can be taken for a ride if they are not careful. To avoid purchasing a car with hidden problems, consider the following buying precautions…
Excessive wear and tear in the interior, regardless of what the odometer says, is a clue that the car has seen some kilometres. Look for:
- Brake pedal pad worn through to the metal beneath
- Driver’s seat outer edge is worn through.
- Water leaking directly under the floor mats.
- Damp, musty odours are indications of leaks in the windshield, weather stripping or heater core.
- Cars that ride lower in the front as compared to the back indicate worn springs.
- Vehicles that bounce when pushed on indicate worn shocks and struts.
- Tires with worn outer edges from the front end represent the need for an alignment.
- Clanking noises when the vehicle is in gear point towards a problem with the drive shaft universal joints.
- Repainted body panels. Check this by looking at the colours of adjoining panels to see if they match the front fender.
- Motor oil that is not full indicates that the engine may be leaking or burning oil.
- Knocking and ticking sounds that increase as the engine speed increases represent major problems and costly repairs.
- Transmission fluid that is black or brown may indicate internal damage.
- Banging, grinding or squeaking noises indicate a damaged or broken transmission mount.
Do not be fooled by the mileage on the odometer! To see if the instruments have been tampered with, look for fingerprints or scratches inside the plastic covering. Kilometre numbers that don’t line up properly on the odometer offer another fraud clue. This may be a crude attempt at getting you to buy a vehicle that has far more kilometres (and problems) than what the low mileage would suggest.