Today, the used car market is very robust and a great place to look when you want value for money. But the outdated perception of used car sales is that, compared to a brand new car, you run a higher risk of ending up with something that’s going to leave you stranded on the highway in rush hour traffic. Follow these steps to ensure you find an amazing deal and don’t end up with a dud or lemon car.
It’s true that car dealerships are a trusted source for reliable pre-owned cars. Any dealership worth its salt understands the value of brand loyalty. They won’t sacrifice the customer relationship for the sake of short-term profit.
They also have their reputations to consider; those 5-star Google ratings don’t designate themselves you know! Internet reviews and ratings are increasingly important in today’s online shopping landscape, so you know that it’s in the dealership’s best interests to keep you happy.
Many dealerships offer certified pre-owned vehicles for that extra stamp of assurance. But even if the gently used vehicle you have your eye on isn’t a CPO, you can still be confident that the car received professional-grade detailing, servicing, and maintenance.
Private sellers, on the other hand, aren't held to such a high standard. Many of them are just making one-off sales and don’t need to worry about customer loyalty and online reviews.
With this information in mind, it’s important to know what you’re looking at when you go to view a used car, especially when you’re working with a private seller. Follow these 9 steps to ensure you cover all your bases and find a vehicle that’s worth your hard-earned money.
On average, a car should put in 20,000km per year. Any more than that is going to start putting the vehicle at above average kilometers for its model year and should warrant a discount to its less-driven peers. Canadian Black Book is the ace up your sleeve when determining the market value of a used vehicle.
Downloading a CARFAX report is a good idea, but it doesn’t always tell the full story. There are other ways to find out more about a car’s background...
A close look at the paint job can reveal hidden truths. Compare panels for colour uniformity. If the panels aren’t matching exactly, the vehicle was probably in an accident.
Check for rust. If you find rust on the bodywork of the vehicle, it may just be an aesthetic problem, but it might also indicate deeper issues that are costly to repair. Frame rust, for example, could impact the integrity of the vehicle and poses a threat to the car's longevity. If you see rust on the body of the vehicle, check under the hood and the undercarriage for further signs.
The ’Toonie Tire Test’ is a quick way to check your tread depth with a coin. If the grip is worn down, the tires may need to be replaced soon at extra cost to you. There may also be an alignment issue if the wear on the tires do not look even.
Check the ground and undercarriage for any signs of leakage while you're examining the tires. You don’t want to be forking out of your own pocket for any leak repairs.
Ensure brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and taillights are all in working order. Then, ensure all interior lights are working too.
Any tapping or rattling sounds are a legitimate cause for concern. Also, check how the vehicle handles on different road surfaces. Practice parking, reversing, and other tricky manoeuvres to see how your style of driving gels with the car.
If you’re not confident performing these checks yourself, bring a knowledgeable friend who knows what to look out for. It’s also a good idea to take it to a mechanic to get it checked out. Any problems that the mechanic identifies with the vehicle can be used as points of negotiation if you decide to make an offer. The mechanic’s fee is a small price to pay compared to buying a problem-ridden vehicle.
Canada Drives can connect you with hundreds of certified dealerships across Canada. Each one of our partner dealerships guarantees a safer option for consumers compared to private sales.
Canada Drives’ dealers have the highest quality standards that private sales lack, and we’ve helped thousands of Canadians get behind the wheel of safe and reliable vehicles.
Visit Canada Drives to fill out our quick online application and secure finance for your new car within a day.
Your online application takes only 2 minutes to complete and we only ask for information we actually need.
Or feel free to call us at 1-888-865-6402