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Self-inspection Guide to Help You Buy a Car Better

Nov 15, 2021 12:05 PM

It is very important to inspect a used car before you buy it. The process saves you from future troubles by ensuring that you won’t fall prey to misinformation and buy the wrong car. Now it is always advisable to get the car inspected by a trained mechanic although many a time, you won’t have access to one. The good thing is that you can inspect the car yourself and in this article, we are going to tell you things you should focus on during the self-inspection exercise. To make things easy, we have divided the inspection process into the following components:

1) Exteriors Inspection: While inspecting exteriors of a car, try to look beyond the obvious. Closely search for uneven panel gaps, signs of rust, scratches, and dents especially underneath the body.

Most sellers will repair the easily visible deformities leaving the hidden scrapes unattended. As an informed buyer, it’s your responsibility to dig out such hidden issues and ask the seller to get them repaired.

Also, pay close attention to the opening and closing of doors and boot. Further, check the rubber beads on the car for any crack or deformation and if any, get it on the repair list of the seller before you buy the car. Another important aspect of the inspection is closely monitoring the glass of the car for any crack or large cavity. Small chips here and there are not a big issue but then you can use this point to your advantage while negotiating the price. However, in case you find a cratered area on glass, you must ask the seller to get it repaired or replaced.

2) Internal Inspection: Just like external inspection, try to find hidden faults inside the car’s cabin.

Watch out for the strained upholstery, cigarette burns, or other kinds of damages but more importantly, focus your attention on the condition of the cabin’s material. The combination of plastic, metal, and wood used by manufacturers today lose their sheen with time and also tend to damage. This mandates that you should thoroughly examine their status and if required, ask the seller to replace them.

If all the electronic equipment and features are in proper working condition then it is an indication that the car has been taken good care of. You should specifically pay attention to the working of air conditioner, music system, and cabin lights besides checking whether other gadgets are working properly or not. Also, pay close attention to warning lights and ensure they all are intact and working.

A look at the instrument cluster will apprise you about the mileage of the car and lower numbers are always a desirable condition for buyers. That said time is also an important consideration along with mileage of the car – a 10-year old car with a low odometer reading doesn’t automatically mean that the car is a good option to go with.

3) Inspecting Mechanical Hardware: This is the most significant yet trickiest part of the self-inspection process. The primary mechanical hardware in a car consists of a frame and suspension system. Both are critical for a car’s long-term reliability and must be inspected before you buy a used car. To inspect the frame, open the hood and focus on the condition of a saddle – a part joining the fenders and holding the radiator. The saddle should be bolted on either side and in case you find it welded, we recommend you not to go ahead with the purchase. A welded saddle points out that the car has incurred some serious damage to its underlying frame which, in turn, has serious implications for car’s structural rigidity and driving dynamics in the future.

One of the simplest ways to check the suspension is to push down the car with your own body weight on both the front and rear side. If the car keeps on shaking even after you remove the force then it indicates faulty suspension assembly. Usually, fixing leakages in suspension is not a costly affair although changing shock absorbers and struts could prove to be a costly affair. For complete guidance on a car’s suspension system, you can refer to our blog on vehicle suspension repair.

4) Under the hood: Inspection of the engine and transmission are of paramount importance before you finalize the purchase deal with the seller. Make sure that there are no leakages and the overall engine assembly is in good working condition without any cracks or fissures.

Closely inspect the engine block of the car and if you find oil stains than there then it is a serious matter to look into. These stains might be due to the gasket leakage and this small thing could very-well become a serious concern in the future. Ask the seller to fix this leakage before you go ahead with the purchase. Also, take a look at all the reservoirs while paying special attention to the engine and transmission oil.

It is important to thoroughly examine the timing belt of the car as it is the most expensive component of the car’s engine. On average, a timing belt is good to last for around 1, 00,000 kilometers but still, you need to check it for any possible flaw in its structure and working mechanism.

5) Take a Test Drive: In order to judge how the car runs, you must take a long test drive. You should drive both in the city and out on highways to sense how the car is behaving in two different conditions. While driving on congested city roads will help you to have an idea of the car's responsiveness in terms of steering agility and braking performance, highway stink will help you to gauge the full-throttle performance and fuel-efficiency of the car. So, while you drive, consciously take note of the car’s performance on the following points:

Braking efficiency: Notice how the car behaves when you apply the brakes at a higher speed. If it shakes that means the car’s brakes require some urgent repair work in terms of cleaning/replacement of the discs, brake pads, or refilling of the brake fluid. Ask the seller to sort out the issue before you go forward and make the purchase.

Take a U-turn at low speed and if you encounter some sharp clunky sounds, it might be a precursor to a bigger and more cost-intensive problem. While uneven tire tread could also be one of the reasons behind it, most of the time the issue is related to the disturbed suspension geometry and steering system of the car.

6) Final Call: Before you make a final decision, make sure to check the service and history report of the car. If the owner of the car has maintained the service record then it adds to the credibility of the deal. However, you must also satisfy yourself about the car’s condition rather than blindly believing in a car’s service record or a history report.

Tag somebody along having expertise in the car’s domain as inspection by four eyes is sure to be more efficient than done by two eyes. Also before you start negotiations, make sure to have a rough idea about the car’s value. To get an estimate, you can take the help of CarDekho Gaadi’s value estimator. Visit the Cardekho, fill some basic details about the car and the price calculator will tell you the estimated value of the vehicle instantly.

Alternatively, if you are looking to sell your car then we assure you that you won’t find a better platform than Cardekho to sell it. The car-buying portal provides the best value and you can sell your old car here in just a single visit. What’s more, you will receive free RC transfer and loan closure assistance services provided by the portal at absolutely no additional cost.

Also Read:-12 Things to Check Before Buying or Selling a Car In India

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