If you are thinking of purchasing a used car, it would be best to thoroughly research the current car market to avoid buying a used car with serious defects. The reality is that there are private sellers or car dealers out there who may be selling a rebuilt used car or salvage vehicle. A salvage vehicle is a used car which has been damaged so badly that car insurance companies deem them too expensive to repair. And so, they issue a salvage title and auction these cars for the spare parts.
Some private sellers or car dealers may buy these cars, wash off the salvage titles, repair them for a fraction of a cost and sell them at a very affordable price. There are many ways you can tell if the used car you’re about to purchase is a salvage vehicle. In this article, we give you some tips on how you can avoid buying a rebuilt wreck.
Choose a reputable car dealer or private seller
An initial step in buying a used car is to look for a private seller or car dealer that you can trust. For the car dealer, you can easily check their reputation by researching online. You can visit their website and read the comments of their customers. Check and see if most of them are happy with the vehicle they have purchased. If not, then look for other options.
If you want more information, then you can also participate in the forums and ask the customers about the cars they bought from the dealer. Are they happy with their purchase? Are their cars functioning properly or are they always in the repair shop? These questions can help you select a reliable car dealer.
Private sellers are a little trickier since most of them only have online advertisements. Do a background check on the person you want to deal with. If they have sold their used cars before, you can interview the one who bought it. If not, then your best bet is to rely on your independent mechanic to check the vehicle.
Research on the car model
This may sound cliché, but knowledge is power. It is not really advisable to buy a car model without knowing more about what you are going to buy. By searching the Internet, you can find out more about the car’s engine, tires, seats and other parts. Once you know all about these things, you can easily identify if the car parts have been replaced. If you see some things which do not match, then there’s a big chance that it has been tampered with.
Sometimes, there are cases when installed equipment such as speakers and radios do not match as well. When you know the used car and its appropriate car parts, then you can easily see that these are mismatched.
Check the vehicle identification number (VIN)
The vehicle identification number (VIN) is a car’s unique serial number which is used to identify vehicles. When you are buying a used car, make sure that you check the VIN written on the car title matches with the number found at the base of the windshield. If these two do not match, then there is a chance that the vehicle was just re-assembled by car rebuilders. Other times, the car might have been stolen and was given a new VIN. In this case, the serial number in the title may not match the one in the car.
Check the vehicle history
The vehicle history will give you the information you need to know about the used car you want to purchase. It contains all the information about the car’s past such the accidents or repairs it has undergone. From here, they can adjust the used car’s price value accordingly.
When you approach the car dealer or seller, ask for the vehicle history report. If they come up with reasons not to give it to you, then be careful in dealing with these people. Don’t trust every word they say and consider a third party mechanic to inspect the car you would like to buy.
Have the used car checked by an independent mechanic
Though you have done your research, it’s still best to seek advice from your trusted independent mechanic before you decide on purchasing the used car. There are many tell-tale signs which are not visible to the untrained eye, yet these experts can easily spot.
One of these is the paint overspray. When rebuilders are in a hurry to put a salvage vehicle back together, they may not be so careful with repainting the whole car. The mechanics will usually check the door jambs or car panels if there are parts which have darker or lighter paint.
Aside from that, they will inspect if there are any corrosion or water stains in areas which water shouldn’t have reached. These are usually found in hidden areas such as the compartment, trunk and door jambs. If the mechanic found some rusting in these places, then the vehicle was mostly likely to have been damaged by flood.
Other tell-tale signs which may show that the used car is a salvage vehicle include mismatched body panels, sloppy repair work and mismatched tires. Once you have inspected everything, ask if you can test drive the car so you can check the engine’s performance, too!
Some final words
Buying a used car usually requires considerable time and effort so that you can be sure the car you purchase is still in good condition. However, if you do your research well, then finding the right car for you won’t be as hard as it seems and you can protect yourself from being conned into buying a salvage car.
It would also be smart to ask advice from experts including friends or family members who are knowledgeable about cars as they can help you decide on which pre-owned vehicle can last you for years to come.