There’s more to choosing a secondhand car than meet the eyes. Buyers won’t discover until way too late that the used car they purchase had actually been in an accident. This can cause long-lasting damage, and eventually cost you more money for inevitable future repairs. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry. Here are some of the vital signs you need to be cautious of when purchasing a secondhand car.
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As flawless a car’s paintwork under the lighting of the used car showroom can be, it often helps to scrutinise it in a well-lit environment, such as out in the sun. This is where you can inspect the paintwork for any inconsistency.
You’ll be able to notice some slight shade difference, a variance of the shine, or even completely mismatched colours between the various different body panels. Whatever it is, it all points to a car that had its bodywork repaired. It’s better to check with your secondhand car dealers.
2. Replaced Parts
It’s rather common to replace only the damaged parts after an accident, as car parts are typically costly. The good news for you is that there would be obvious signs for you to look out for. On a heavily worn and aged car, a brand new part is like a gigantic warning sign flashing right in your face. Particularly when it comes to airbag covers, head and tailights—these are the things that most likely be damaged in a fender bender.
It’s worthy to note that in some cases, mismatched or third-party parts are often used in a bid to lower repair costs. So always verify with the seller on such irregularities.
3. Panel Gaps
You may notice by now that the most important thing to look out for is inconsistency. Check the gap between the fender and the door when closed. The rule of thumb is you shouldn’t be able to stick your finger between them. The gaps should be minimal and consistent throughout the bodywork. Serious accidents often cause many parts misaligned, and getting them back in place is not a simple task.
Test driving a used car is about determining potential issues. If the car pulls to a side and is not able to drive straight, this is a sign that its alignment may be off. A big no is when you notice a car that has a bent chassis that is impossible to be properly aligned. Demand for a realignment to be done, if possible, and ensure that the issue has been rectified.
5. Uneven Tyre Wear
Even if the test drive shows the car tracks straight, be wary of uneven tyre wear. It could be the outcome of a botched suspension alignment setting. Uneven tyre wear may even indicate something a lot more serious, such as a problematic chassis, aligned to hide the issue. If the faulty chassis is constantly working against the wheel, the tyres would be subjected to abnormally high forces, which results in the uneven wear you’ve noticed.
6. Welding Marks
Look out for cutaway sections of a car’s parts that were stitched together. This is because most cars have parts that were welded together. Make sure the boot floor should be a single piece, and definitely not joint across the spare tyre well. Be wary on irregular welding marks (compared to other welds on the car), as well. Generally speaking, cars demonstrating such features are avoided since there is no way to know for sure if they have been professionally fixed. In other words, it’s almost impossible to know how well it would hold up in the event of another accident.
7. Unpainted Surfaces or Rust
Repair works on structural parts of a car usually require some welding. One thing about welding is that in order for it to be done properly, paint needs to be removed. These removed parts are usually made of steel, which will rust over time if left unpainted. Repair works on inconspicuous areas like in the engine bay are usually the prime suspects for unpainted surfaces and rust.
8. Fresh Undercoat
More common in countries experiencing winter, cars are undercoated to prevent rust. It’s also to slow down the rate of wear and tear. Local cars are undercoated as well, either as an option by the dealer or done by a third party. However, be cautious if you are viewing an unassuming used car with a fresh shiny undercoat. That might be an attempt to hide repair work that was done to the car.
9. Visible Creased Panels
One impact of a collision is creased malleable steel sheets. This shouldn’t be too hard to spot as they make up most of a car. A proper repair job would ensure that the body of the car is straightened as much as possible. A shoddy repair job, on the other hand, might leave concealed areas such as the boot floor or sections in the engine bay still visibly creased.
10. Mismatching or Missing Screws and Fasteners
The screws holding fenders in place may seem like insignificant hardware, but misplaced screws could indicate that the fenders were removed at some point for repair work to be done. While working on cars, it is rather common for workshops to misplace and replace such screws. So when inspecting used cars, these screws should be of the same type and of similar condition. The same goes for other parts as well, like the bolts holding the bonnet to the hinges or fasteners, which keep the fender’s splash guards on.
If you are looking for the best pre-purchase car inspector in Melbourne, do not hesitate to contact German Precision or Prepurchase Check today!