Buying a used car can be a huge commitment and an overwhelming decision. Cars under $5,000 are typically best for first-time buyers as they are on the less expensive side of the spectrum, and great for travelling back and forth to school or work.
When checking out a car before buying, Rafi Rousuli service technician at Speedy Auto Service says you shouldn’t be satisfied with a fancy exterior. “A lot of people think ‘Wow. This car looks like it’s in great shape. If it looks this good, nothing can be wrong with it’, and that’s simply not true. We live in Ontario and the biggest source of wear and tear is rust and rot from slush and salt over the winter, and typically you can’t see the major issues at a first glance. For $80 you can get a pre-purchase inspection done on the vehicle before you buy it, and it could save you thousands. Just yesterday a man brought in a used car that he just bought and as soon as I put it on the hoist, I noticed immediately that it needed a new frame. Without that, the car is essentially garbage and he was very upset when he stepped under the car and we showed him the problems. He lost his money.”
When choosing where to buy it is always best to choose a reputable source. Vlad Milosevic, owner of Mega Auto, says that there are many benefits to buying from a registered used car dealer. “When you buy from a private source they have no accountability, when you buy in their driveway they have no obligation to you as a customer. Registered dealers are held accountable by OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) and if our customers are not treated fairly, we can get reported and get fined or have our licence taken away. As well, when you buy from a dealer, you have the option to get a warranty on a used car. You never know when things are going to go on a car, and if it’s worth less than $5,000 you can guess that the vehicle is around 10 years old and if something goes on it, the repairs can sometimes worth more than the car itself, so buying a warranty that fits your needs and your vehicle can save you a lot of money.”
Nick Sousa, Lead Hand Technician at Jiffy Lube says that he has a specific check list when looking at a vehicle and Fanshawe students could benefit from using the same method. “First I start with the body, if there’s a lot of rust on the body I’m going to walk away because body repair is the most expensive type of repair. Then I start looking at tires to see how the treadwear is going because many times it can indicate an alignment problem. If the middle is worn down and most of the edges it could mean a lot of braking or speeding. Then I start looking more under the hood. I turn it over to see if there’s any clunking or ticking. Then I check for leaking underneath the vehicle, leaking can be a big problem with a lot of repairs. Then I take it for a drive to feel how the brakes are, if they’re throbbing, if the steering is winding at all, if the transmission is sticking or slipping at all, if the engine is idling rough at a stop sign… these are all big things to look for. It’s also important to take the vehicle up to normal speed limits to see how it runs. I wouldn’t advise just driving up someone’s street.”
The biggest tip Rafi Rousuli has for prospective buyers is to never leave a deposit or down payment with the seller before they get a pre-purchase inspection. “You can give someone $1,000 to secure a vehicle, but if you bring it in and realize that the vehicle is junk and only worth $200, you just lost $800. Before you ever give someone your money, whether they’re a private seller or a dealer, take it to a professional mechanic. They will look at everything bumper to bumper and find things that you wouldn’t be able to find when seeing the car on the ground. You should always get a pre-purchase inspection. It’s the best way to protect your investment.”
When buying a used vehicle, it’s always best to bring someone with you that is knowledgable about cars. Always ask for a vehicle history report to see if the car has ever been in an accident, always bring the car to a professional mechanic before your purchase to get it inspected, and never feel rushed to sign a deal. As Rousuli says, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”