Quick Car Buying Guide

As second hand dealers, we have dealt with all sorts of used items from jewelries to automobiles. Therefore, we would like to share with our readers some of our experience in the realm of buying used cars following are a few of our notes:

  1. All parts should have the original manufacturer’s logo (bumper, windshield, hood, head light, back light, ect.)
  2. Engine should be reasonably clean – watch out for “acid spills” from head on collisions and oil leaks below the engine
  3. Inspect for any extra welding marks as original factory welding are very precise and aesthetic.
  4. Check the edges of inseam lines to see whether there’s any paint residue from re-painting jobs. All lines should be smooth and matching.
  5. Newer car engines should not shake while on idling gears, nor would it make irregular sounds on higher RPM.
  6. Tires should have even wear and enough tread to last a few years.
  7. Check the interior and underneath for signs of “flooding” or “water damage.”
  8. Stick your finger inside the exaust pipe (if it’s not hot) to see whether there’s any black residue due to burning oil, which can result from engine abuse or not changing oil regularly. Long term effect of this would be lowered gas efficiency and engine life.
  9. The front and back license plate should give clues to whether the vehicle has been in an accident.
  10. Ask the owner for all maintenance records.
  11. Use the VIN code to check with carfax.

When inspecting a vehicle, we would keep these scenarios in mind as these would greatly affect the value of the goods in question:

  1. Frontal collision as that would most likely affect the most important part of the car, the engine.
  2. Rebuilt transmission and/or engine are usually not as good as the original installations.
  3. Undisclosed accidents or recent accidents (less than 1 month old) that has not shown up on the CarFax reports.
  4. Frame damages that require professional inspection to detect. This can affect the alignment and long-term maintenance cost of the vehicle.
  5. “Salvage title” is often reserved for very badly damaged vehicles.
    Potential scams:
  6. The titled owner of the vehicle isn’t available, and the signatures on the car titles don’t match. This may end up be a stolen vehicle in which the buyer would be left with nothing if the police decides to repossess the vehicle in favor of the owner.
  7. Whenever the seller is rushing the buyer to pay with cash (only cash) without proper contracts, it’s time to raise the red flag.
  8. The seller refuses to allow a vehicle inspection by a professional mechanic or body shop. This may mean that the vehicle is a lemon.