Friday, January 22, 2016

The 3-minute Fast Forward Car Check

Buying a used car can be great value-for-money, but the last thing anyone wants is a car that does nothing but give you maintenance headaches after you’ve driven it for a few weeks.

But then again, it’s so time-consuming to scrutinize every vehicle we look at bumper to bumper and under. By the time we’re on car choice 3, we’re hot, exhausted and just about ready to just pick anything already (only to possibly regret that rash decision further down the road).

So the next time you’re in the market for a second-hand car, here’re some fast-forward ways to quickly check whether it’s a car you’ll love, or a lemon. Doing all this should only take you a couple of minutes, and it’s a good starting point for any car you check out.

Quick 1-minute check to the structural integrity or car frame: 
  • Make sure that the hood, trunk lid, and the doors close tightly. If they do not close properly, chances are replacements parts were used due to a major accident
  • Clamp marks on the frame rail (under the car) would indicate that the car has been on frame machines - which would suggest that it has been in a serious accident. 
  • Another thing to look out for to indicate that the car has been in accident would be signs of welding and mismatched replacement parts
Quick check for paint job

  • For indication of car being repainted, keep a look out for inconsistency of paintwork or stray paint that landed on the gasket or moldings. 
  • Quick run of finger along the inside of the doors’ edge and check to see if there is a smooth or rough finishing; the latter is usually caused by overspraying during a repainting job. 
  • If these sign are found, enquire further about the nature of the repainting - is it to cover up some minor scratches or was there major accident involved?

Quick check of the engine (and other parts of the car)

    • Find the Car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) and do a quick search online (try www.vindecoderz.com) to see if the car’s stated trim, manufacture year, and other details match with the car on sale. Sometimes the cars on sale are passed off as a higher trim variant just to entice buyers.  The VIN is located in the engine bay, lower edge of front windscreen, or on the car registration card. 

    • Keep an ear out for any engine noise (or any other noise for the matter) during the test drive. 
    • Make sure the odometer moves when you are on your test run. 
    • Also check to make sure that the car mileage is low - second hand cars with a higher mileage tends to break down more often or requires repairs. To benchmark, an average car clocks roughly about 12,000 kilometres per year, or 1,000 kilometres per month. Do also stay alert if the car has a mileage that looks suspiciously low – there’s a chance that it has probably been adjusted! 
    • If possible, check the history of the car - going through more owners would indicate that the cars have given problems to the others - why else would it be sold from one to another? 

    For more fast-forward tips on motoring, cooking, beauty and fitness, check out panadolfastforward.my.