If you’re on your way to buy a second-hand car, Cars VW gives you a list of common sense advices, which you need to go through in order to avoid getting cheated.
Acquiring a second-hand vehicle gives the customer many problems, being as risky as a visit in the casino. This is true especially for those who buy their first car or they are naive or inexperienced. There are many things to consider when acquiring a vehicle, and the first steps are in research and finding the vehicle itself.
Automarket presents a list of ten steps which you need to go through in order to continue the acquisition of a second-hand automobile:
1. Check the car in a right angle
Once you setup a meeting with the vehicle owner, you should arrange to see the car on its parking spot, preferably in a right angle (not in front of a garage). This meeting allows you to check if the car leaks oil when it’s stationed, if the oil level is correct (the engine most be cold), you can see how it starts at cold and check the car body for rust points, scratches, repairs and other type of problems.
2. Check under the hood
If you haven’t owned a vehicle of the same brand, it’s indicated to check for pictures under the hood before going to meet the owner. Once you lift the hood, you have to make sure that all the elements are on their place, there aren’t improvisations and the vehicle wasn’t repainted. Check for signs of uneven welding, gassing (small spots of paint), oil leaks and rust. Don’t forget to check the engine and body car series number, in order to check if they match the ones on the registration certificate. If you’re not sure these are legitimate, you can pay a visit to the Romanian Auto Registry, where you’ll receive a certified opinion regarding this crucial aspect of an automobile.
3. Hoses and rubber belts
Check the rubber hoses, transmission visible belts and electric connectors. Not a single one of the above mentioned elements can have cracks. If these have a pale color, there are chances that the material which they are made to be weared down. You should be careful if the engine is washed, because it can hide oil leaks. Check the brake liquid tank and the cooling liquid tank. The last one can be opened only if the engine is cold.
4. Mileage, a feature with two crosses
Check the car mileage and calculate how many kilometers per year has the owner driven. In case of old and very old vehicles, you can expect at a value manipulated by man, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be fooled by an automobile with an age of two, three or four years. Ask for service documents, if the owner claims that it has a very well maintained vehicle. Finally, even the vehicles with a low mileage could have problems, especially the ones that are really old.
5. Service history – important in a big acquisition
If you’re on your way to spend thousands of euros on a second-hand vehicle, with an age of maximum ten years, they could have a service history. But, be careful at the documents that have the same write on a period of many years and at the papers whose ink hasn’t aged at all. Service books can be falsified, so it’s important to keep every bill you have from a vehicle. They age even faster, but they tell the truth regarding the service documentation. In case of really old vehicles, there are already rare the cases were the seller has a service book, or a complete service book. Make sure these papers are all right and they function properly.
6. Carefully check the engine
The engine must have a regular RPM and to start very fast when you turn the key. If the car doesn’t start from the first try, you already have an advantage when you’re negotiating with the seller, but you risk spending more money in service, especially if you don’t know what’s causing the problem. Check the oil level, the color of the cooling liquid and the oil level from automatic transmissions. You should prepare in advance searching for common problems of the specific engine model and check, as possible, the state of the engine. If the engine has a belt distribution, find out when the kit was changed (it includes a water pomp and a series of rolls, not just a belt). If the owner can’t prove the change, there are chances you are cheated. The operation costs approximately 300 euros in an independent service, but fixing the malfunction caused by breaking the distribution costs over 1000 euro in the same service.
7. Make sure that brakes and steering are working
Breaking and steering systems have a series of components which assure the safety and precision of driving on the road. Check the date of the last ITP inspection and ask the seller to allow you to check this system in a service, where you can check eventual flaws for less than 100 RON. This way, you risk spending amounts of at least ten times more and causing a severe accident. Don’t check a car in a service if you’re not sure you want to buy it, so you won’t waste your money.
8. Don’t pay the amount asked by the seller
In most of the cases, the second-hand vehicle sellers live from this business. There are also honest sellers, who owned an automobile several years in a row. In the case of the ones who had the vehicle less than six months, you should be a little more suspicious than usual. Try to negotiate with the seller, preferably on site, near the car, not by phone. Phone negotiations only annoy the seller, and the line “list price?” has become inelegant. Don’t expect to big discounts once you meet with the owner, and don’t believe his stories about emigrating in other country, the imminent birth of a child and other lies like this.
9. Bring a notebook and a pen when you’re meeting the seller
When you’re meeting with the seller to see the car, it’s indicated to have a pen and a paper to note your observations. When you’re done examining the car, you draw a line and make an assessment of the immediate expenses. It’s indicated to have a copy of the internet ad, in order to detect eventual inconsistencies. The most common are related to the presence of a certain number of airbags, the presence of the ESP system, number of previous owners, condition of the vehicle, the phrase “no accident”, some optional inexistent features and even “impossible” on that type of vehicle (like the particle filter on the models with gas engines) and, the traditional “full without leather”.
10. Go to a mechanic before you finish your acquisition
In order to finish the sale, you’ll need a fiscal certificate from the seller, the book and registration certificate of authenticity from RAR. The last document you can obtain even if you already bought the car, but it’s recommended to have it early, in order to go and register the car in one step. Before you sign the papers with the seller, you should schedule a visit to an independent service, eventually a service which also has an ITP station. For an amount around 100 RON, a mechanic will check almost all regarding that car and will offer you a competent opinion. If the seller refuses, there are chances that he could hide something. If you have any doubts regarding the documents, or if the seller doesn’t cooperate, don’t forget that there are other second-hand automobiles on the market and you have plenty of choices.