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How to identify whether a used car has been treated badly

It is always a game of risk to buy a used car, as there are many dishonest folk out there willing to deceive in order to get rid of complete clunkers for maximum dollars. You could end up with a lemon because you forgot, or didn’t know to look out for, certain things. You could, as a result, end up paying through the nose for repairs that you were under the impression wouldn’t be needed.

As the saying goes, “buyer beware,” and just because it is a cliché doesn’t make it any less true. People looking to sell vehicles for more than they are worth, by doing things by hiding mechanical faults and just being dishonest in general, are plenty. Here are some handy hints designed to help you avoid these hucksters.


Keep an eye out for modifications

Often times, when a car has been modified, it is safe to assume that it has been done for the main purpose of squeezing out more performance. People don’t deliberately enhance a car’s abilities to then just use the thing to get from A to B. They will be honing around and generally pushing the vehicle to its limits. This will result in more wear and tear. It is therefore safe to assume that a vehicle that has been modified will be in worse shape as a result of rougher treatment. If you want to be sure that this isn’t the case, make sure that the seller has a record of all past maintenance.

Look at the car engine

The engine is the heart of the car. It is what makes the wheels go round. It is a major mistake to forget about the engine when inspecting a used car for future possible purchase. And you can be sure that there will be signs of problems if an engine has them. Signs like oil leaks. Rubber components or areas with cracking. Parts that look newer than other parts.

Remember to have a look at the oil via the dipstick. A good sign that a car has been mistreated is if the oil isn’t looking good. Oil that doesn’t look good is viscous and has a darker hue to it. It won’t be a waste of time to actually get in the car and turn the engine over a wee bit. Take note of how easily it starts. Make sure the engine is cold when you do this, as the result will be more indicative of its condition.

Take the car for a test drive

You can’t know that you have inspected a vehicle thoroughly if you haven’t taken it for a test drive. Perhaps this is just common sense, but you would be surprised at the amount of people that skip this part because they are foolish. However, if you do take it for a test drive you still need to use your ears. This means keeping the radio off. The kind of sounds you need to listen out for that will hint at problems with the vehicle include squeaking and rattling during gear changes. Put the suspension to the test by going over judder bars.

If you are wise you will take heed of these hints. It is also great advice to take a more knowledgeable friend along with you. Good luck!

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