How to Inspect an Old Car for Safety

Having a vehicle is almost a necessity in life. Going to work, shopping, and visiting family could be done on foot or by bus. However, it is much more convenient with a car. All you have to do is spend some of your hard-earned money on purchasing a new vehicle.

Buying a car is a significant investment and you may not be able to purchase a new one with a full warranty. The only other option is a used one. It can be scary to buy an old car because you don’t know the extent of the vehicle’s problems. The last thing you want is to buy a lemon, so how can you ensure you don’t get ripped off? 

You need to know how to inspect an old car. Follow this checklist before you open your wallet.

Look for Rust and Paint Damage

This is a great place to start. You can have a quick walk around any vehicle. Without any mechanical knowledge, you can see scratches, dents, rust and paint chips. While you can fix small rust spots and paint damage, this issue should definitely affect the purchase price. Any major rusting may not be worth your time.

 

Check the Tires

Tires cost money and if they need to be replaced, that cost should come off the price. More importantly, you need to check how worn-out they are. Check out the wear to see if it is even on the tread and even across all four tires. If not, it can be a sign of alignment issues as well as steering and suspension. Heavy wear on the outside of the front tires may mean the car has been driven hard by an aggressive driver. All these problems will be inherited by you once you buy the vehicle.

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Look at the Headlights and Taillights

When inspecting an old car, you need to see if the electronics are working. This includes the lights. Your headlights and taillights are vital for driving, especially at night so give them a close look. Switch them on and check high and low beams, as well as the turning signals. Also, push the brakes to make sure the brake lights illuminate. 

 

Look at the Frame

For this problem, you may have to get on your knees to inspect. Check the frame to see if it sits level. While you are down there, make sure nothing is hanging under the car that shouldn’t be. Look at the bumpers to see if there is any sign of a collision or replacement. Also, take a look inside the trunk and under the hood for warping.

 

Inspect the Glass

Your inspection includes all the mirrors, windshield, side windows and rear window. It should also extend to the headlights and taillights. You don’t want any cracks or chips if you can help it. All these things can lead to the chip spreading and that means replacing the glass. Cracked headlights can cause water to get in there and potentially cause electrical issues.

 

Check Out the Interior

This is the car’s cabin and the place you will be sitting in while you drive. You don’t want to have unpleasant odours, so use your nose. If there is cigarette smoke or a mildew smell, you may want to pass. Mildew means a water leak and these smells are hard to get rid of.

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Check to make sure the seats are in good condition and the adjustment levers function well. Try all the switches on the dashboard to make sure they work. Also, play around with the radio. You can replace the sound system, but it’s an added cost that you may not want to incur. Look at the interior roof as well as the trunk’s interior for signs of water damage or any other scuffs or scratches.

 

Under the Hood

This is the heart of the car and one that needs a thorough inspection. If you are capable, check all the fluids, belts, radiator and battery. Start the car up and listen for any unusual noises at idle and higher revs. You may want to bring along a mechanical friend or take it to a mechanic before shelling out your hard-earned money.

 

Take It for a Spin

This is where you will notice any driving issues and get a real feel for the car. Apart from any performance issues, how do you like driving it? Can you see clearly through all the windows and are comfortable with the space inside? Do you like the way it handles?

 

These are all things you need to consider and inspect when buying an old car. New doesn’t necessarily mean better and if an old car is what you are looking for, make sure to go over this checklist before signing on the dotted line. Once you are satisfied that it is worth the money, have no regrets and enjoy your new ride.

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