As you prepare to purchase a used car, it is critical to conduct a thorough inspection before you seal the deal with one of your local no-credit car dealerships. Take time to examine every aspect of the car, including the interior, the exterior, the tires, the engine, the suspension, the frame, and the transmission. Once you’ve diligently inspected the vehicle, you’ll feel much more confident about spending your money on it!
If you’re going to perform the inspection yourself, make sure that you completely understand everything you need to look for. Make a checklist for yourself so that you don’t forget to do something crucial, like examine the transmission or check the tires. There are a wide variety of elements you’ll need to inspect, including
- The wheels and tires. Keep your eyes open for any uneven wear and tear on the tires – this could point to bigger problems with the alignment or suspension. All of the tires should be the same brand name and be the same size. Wheels should be in good condition, ideally with minimal curb rash.
- The suspension. Basically, you want to make sure that the car is resting evenly. Bounce each corner to make sure that all four respond in a similar way.
- The lights. Headlights, taillights and turn signals can often be overlooked if there isn’t any obvious damage to their housings or bulbs. Check to make sure that the daytime running lights (if equipped) are working properly and that the high beams and low beams work as they should. Make sure the brake lights turn on when they should and that you are familiar where there emergency lights button is located and is operational.
- The engine. Check carefully for any signs of oil or fluid leaks. Turn the car on so that you can ensure that the exhaust pipe emission is neither blue nor black. There are many components in an engine and it isn’t always possible to tell in what condition they are in. Fluid levels and conditions are often a tell-tell sign as to how the vehicle has been previously maintained.
- The interior. When you begin checking out the interior, make sure that all of the doors, including the trunk, open and close freely. Watch out for any problems with the seats, the A/C and heater, the windshield wipers, and the seatbelts. If you are allergic to smoke, you should be able to do a “sniff test” and tell if the car was previously owned by a smoker.
- The exterior. In general, your inspection of the exterior should focus on looking for signs of accidents, such as cracks in the windshield, dents, and scratches, especially on the front and rear bumpers. In addition, check the paint for discoloration or overspray.
- The transmission. Depending on whether the vehicle has a standard transmission or an automatic transmission, you’ll want to check that the gears shift smoothly or that the transmission fluid looks clean.
- The frame. Look inside the trunk. Are there any signs of crumpling or straightening? This could be a sign of a previous accident. Reputable dealerships will not sell a car with prior frame damage.
Clearly, there are plenty of other elements that you need to inspect, including the brakes and the steering capabilities. A test drive should sufficiently let you know that everything is in working order.
A Mechanic can Help
As you can see, that’s a long list of components to inspect! Although you can conduct the inspection yourself, it’s always smart to bring along your favorite mechanic to help you out. An experienced mechanic may be able to spot problem signs that you would never notice. Many no-credit car dealerships inspect the vehicles prior to putting them up for sale, but some don’t, so make sure to ask if it has been inspected already.
Nationwide Inspection Centers
Remember, no-credit car dealerships will have wildly varying standards. Although most no-credit car dealerships simply purchase used cars at auction and put them straight up for sale without any type of inspection, DriveTime is unique within the industry. All of the used cars sold by DriveTime are first sent to one of our 7 nationwide inspection centers in order to ensure that our customers receive reliable, high quality used cars.