Getting a Used Car Checked by a Mechanic

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2009)

After you have completed all of the homework that accompanies a decision to purchase a used car, there is still another step that is commonly overlooked by most people that are in the market for a used car. That step is to have your new dream car looked over by a mechanic. You can go about getting this type of information in many different ways, up to and including actually having a mechanic come out and take a look at the used car that you want to purchase. Use any of these ideas, and you are going to know for sure that you are purchasing a vehicle that is worth your money.

Many times you can have a mechanic come out to inspect a vehicle that you are going to purchase. If you happen to have a friend who is a mechanic then you might be able to ask him or her to come out and inspect the vehicle for free. Unfortunately though, not all of us are lucky to know someone who is a mechanic, so in that case, it is going to cost you a little bit of money to have your car inspected. Simply call around to the garages in your area to see what, or if they offer this service and how much they charge for it.

A new service that has come to the surface in today's world is named Carfax. You can go online at www.carfax.com and get a report sent to you. All that you need to do take advantage of this option is to have the vehicles identification number (VIN) and be willing to spend $30.00 plus tax. Such a report covers all aspects of a car's history and you can even find out if the car was ever in an accident or even stolen. You could also ask the dealer to provide a copy of this report, but I would strongly suggest that you get one yourself.

Of course, there is nothing that says that you cannot conduct your own inspection, all that you need to do is know what questions to ask, or what to look for. Here is a simple list of a few things that you can look for.

Exterior

  • Make sure that the body panels fit and are painted the same. If these parts don't, then it could indicate that at some point vehicle was in an accident. If the vehicle looks like it was recently painted, be sure that you ask why.
  • Look for bond-o, or other filler. If necessary, use a magnate to check suspicious parts. Keep in mind that this won't work on vehicles that do not have metal bodies.
  • Examine the exterior to make sure that there is no rust, or musty smell in the trunk, since it could be that there was an accident sometime in the past.

Tires and Suspension

  • Wear and tear on the tires are evenly spaced, and the tires need to be the same size. Make sure that the vehicle comes with a spare, jack and wrench.
  • Push/pull each wheel of the car, if there is any noticeable give this could mean that there is problems with the CV boots. I remember not doing this one time, and having a wheel fall off, talk about scary.
  • Push down and release on each of the vehicle's corner. If the vehicle appears to rock, or bounce more than just a single time, then you should take a closer look at the shocks and struts.

Interior

  • Check for the wear and tear of the seats, pedals and steering wheel. Excessive wear and tear could indicate that there was more use than there should be.
  • Musty smells or carpet could indicate flood damage.
  • Make sure that there is an owner's manual, and service history.

Engine

  • Check the fluid levels in the engine.
  • Take a look at the wires for fraying or exposure.
  • Check for leaks, as well as wear and tear on the belts.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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