Buying a car: More than giving tires a kickBy Kijiji Autos
It‘s also a good idea to suggest the person clean out the car before you get there. Once you arrive, chat for a while to see if anything about the transaction raises alarm bells and whether you feel at ease. Ask politely for a bit of time to look at the vehicle more closely. If the seller refuses, give the car a pass. You don’t want to spend money on what the seller has to offer if they don’t want to spend time on the transaction. You can create a checklist if you wish.
Here’s how we recommend you proceed with the vehicle inspection:
Start by walking around the car and checking the general condition of the exterior. If the body has scratches or a small amount of damage that you’d want to repair, make a note to include it in the price negotiations later.Check the spacing between the doors, hood, trunk, and other body panels. On most cars, they should be relatively uniform. If not, it could be a sign the vehicle has been in one or more collisions.
Also check that the paint colour is uniform on the various panels of the bodywork. If you detect even a slight difference, a part may have been replaced because of an accident. Use the opportunity to ask the seller: “Why is the bumper a slightly different colour from the rest of the car?” If the answer is about the effect of the sun on paint or some other lame excuse, think about moving on. A person who lies about minor repairs could be concealing something much worse. That’s assuming, of course, that your seller is the original owner of the car.
Next, open all the doors, including the trunk. They should open and close easily. A slight creaking usually only requires a little lubricant, but if the latching mechanism is a problem, it could mean the frame is damaged, which is a big deal. Also, make sure the studs and the inside of the doors are free from rust or moisture.
The condition of the tires can reveal other potential problems with the car. Turn the wheels fully to one side to check the treads of the front tires. Uneven wear of the treads may be a sign of a suspension problem, which puts more pressure on one part of the tire than the rest. In addition, very worn or insufficiently inflated tires could flag a seller who cares more about their wallet than their car.
Under the hood
First, remove the oil dipstick, wipe it, and slide it back in. Remove it again and check that the oil level is within the specified safety zone. It’s a bad sign if there’s no oil or not enough. It’s okay if the oil is dark brown or even slightly black, as long as there are no impurities you can see on the gauge. Next, open the oil filler cap. If you see a whitish residue, the engine is dirty. Make your escape now!
Look at the brake fluid reservoir and check the colour. If it’s black, it must be changed. Old fluid can corrode brake lines and offer poor performance.
Open the radiator cap when the engine is cold. If it’s dirty or has residue, once again it’s time to make your escape. Just trying to find out the cause of the problem would cost far too much. Check the coolant reservoir as well. It’s okay if the level is a bit low, but if it’s completely empty, the cooling system may have been damaged by the lack of fluid.Finally, check the fluid level of the power steering reservoir and whether the pump is leakproof. A really low level of fluid could damage the pump, which is both costly and dangerous.
Open and close all the windows and make sure the mechanism (if electric) works smoothly. If not, a repair might be needed. Check the windshield for damage. Minor chips are usually not a problem, but a crack could mean the windshield needs to be replaced.Ask the seller or a friend to operate all headlights and lights: brake lights, back-up lights, hazard warning lights, low and high beams, and parking lights. If one or both headlights are burned out, their replacement could be part of the negotiation, especially in the case of expensive HID or Xenon bulbs. Ask the person to spray the windshield washer to check the operation of the pump and wipers.
Go back inside the car to make sure all electronic devices are working. Check the interior lighting. If the car has a touch screen navigation unit that plays movies and does your taxes, make sure it works.
Now that you’ve passed the “kick the tires” stage, it’s time for the road test.
Easily find your next ride on Kijiji AutosSearch now
First time car buyer? Check out our guide to help you find the best dealers
First-time car buyers have a lot to think about. A car is an investment and you want to get a good return on what you are paying for. Being a first-time car buyer can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to find the best dealers for new car buyers: 1. Look for...
How to buy or sell a used car in Ontario with the UVIP?
Did you know that if you decide to buy a used car in Ontario, your seller must provide you with a Used Vehicle Information Package or UVIP? If you're thinking of buying or selling a used car online in this province, here's what you need to know about the UVIP, courtesy of Kijiji Autos: Do I...
The difference between AWD and 4WD and other drivetrain questions explained
If you have been shopping for a vehicle, you may have seen words like all-wheel drive (AWD), front-wheel drive (FWD). You may have asked yourself about the meaning of all-wheel drive. These terms all refer to the drivetrain. Here is a breakdown on some of the drivetrain terms: Front-wheel drive...
Should you keep, trade or sell your car?
Browsing for a new car? With online resources that give you the confidence you need to make the best choice for your budget and lifestyle, shopping for a car online has never been easier. If you're looking for a new ride but don't know what to do with your current one, you typically have three...
How to get a fair price on your next car
Are you hunting for the best deal on a new car online? Take advantage of Kijiji Autos' online tools, resources and information to help you find the car of your dreams and pay the best price. Here are some tips for getting an awesome car price estimate online: Compare car prices It's much...
How to buy your next car online in Canada
As manufacturers and dealers recognize that the global pandemic is a long-term reality, the auto industry is rolling out more services to buy a car online in Canada. From the comfort of your own home, you can easily browse the latest models, apply for financing, make a purchase and get your brand...
10 popular SUVs and crossovers in Canada
There's no doubt that Canadians navigate a wide variety of weather and lifestyle conditions every day. This makes a fun, practical and comfortable SUV or crossover a solid vehicle choice, from coast to coast. Listed in no particular order, check out these 10 popular SUV and crossover models to...
The best features of 10 popular hatchbacks
If you are in the market for a hatchback, you'll want to check out this overview of these 10 models and the features that make them so popular. Kijiji Autos will help you confidently choose between the best hatchbacks, including used, sporty and hybrid models – whatever is a priority for you.
10 popular vans in Canada
Cargo vans and minivans can meet the needs of many drivers. There are plenty of models to choose from at various price points, which can make it difficult to pick the van that's right for you. Whether it's passenger capacity or cargo space you're after, Kijiji Autos is here to help with your search.
Top 10 popular pickup trucks in Canada
The pickup truck has always been a symbol of utility and strength, and lately, many models have become luxury family vehicles that leave nothing to be desired. In no particular order, these popular brands represent a range of available features, engine types and towing capacities. Check out the...