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Unread 12-03-2010, 01:13 AM   #1
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Default [J] Ten Top Tips for buying a Used Car

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The reward of getting a great deal on a used car's sometimes overshadowed by the reality that you've made a mistake. We polled our experienced readers and created this list of the ten top tips for buying a used car.


Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car
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Unread 12-03-2010, 04:20 AM   #2
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Not bad but their readers forgot a few things.


Here's what I look for:

1. Ignore the mileage. Some vehicles run like ass at 120K, while others run flawlessly at 275K. Drive the candidate, if it runs good, who cares how many times the odo has rolled over.

2. Drive it. You can ask questions until you're blue in the face but you aren't going to know the transmission won't select third gear unless you actually drive it. Your test drive should be about 25-30 miles, with a mixture of in-town and interstate driving. I also suggest throwing a fiver in the tank, just out of courtesy. Maybe a tenner if it's a more inefficient vehicle. If the seller won't let you drive it, just walk away now, there's something wrong with it.

3. Check the engine and transmission for leaks while it's running. Some seals only leak while it's running. Valve covers, for example. Main seals also tend to leak more when it's running. Fuel system leaks are usually only visible when it's running, and bad water pumps will often make their presence known only while turning.

4. Shake the car like you're trying to flip it. If there's something wrong with the suspension this is when it will be most evident. Sway bars that have gone soft will allow it to roll more than normal. Bad shocks will make it bounce more than normal. Bad bushings will be loudest when you're outside the car.

5. Carfax. Get one. You're there, in person, looking at the car. Jot the VIN down and check it on your own if the seller won't. You never know what will pop up.

6. Don't immediately run away from one that comes back rebuilt or salvaged. If it's been properly repaired it's still a good car. Have a professional once-over the car, if the repairs were done right, it's still a good buy on this front.

7. Replace belts, hoses, engine oil, coolant and tires within 150 miles of buying it. Doesn't matter how new they look, products exist that make old, dry rotted rubber look brand spankin' new, and some sellers will use these products.

8. Test every light on the outside of the car. If they don't work, you may have electrical gremlins to chase down.

9. Read the gauges. The engine will be more than happy to tell you if it isn't healthy, and it does so by sound, by leak, by vibration, and by dashboard. If, after the test drive, the oil pressure or water temp gauges are out of whack something isn't right. Idiot gauges should be around halfway up the scale in most modern cars. Water temp can be between a quarter and half, oil PSI between half and 3/4. Electrical gauges come in two types. Voltmeters should show 13-14V when running, more or less means trouble. Ammeters should show a slight charge when idling.
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1985 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci OHV inline six | 4-speed OD manual | 310K | No power brakes | Running 100% - It hasn't driven this good in 15 years!

1984 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci six | granny four | 3.55 rear end | 210K | Brakes shot. Rear drums are doing most of the work. Not fit to drive due to that.
1997 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0L Vulcan V6 | 5-speed automatic | shift-on-the-fly 4WD | 210,000 miles | Running 95% - Needs brakes on all four corners + bald tires
1989 Ford F150 | 300cid six...again | 5-speed | 4x4 | 160K | Needs brakes done as well. Oi!

Last edited by Kenny McCormick; 12-03-2010 at 02:07 PM.

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Unread 12-03-2010, 08:51 AM   #3
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good points. When i was looking at that 99 silverado 1500 awhile back, i drove it, and it actually ran PERFECTLY for 285k miles. Never missed a beat, smoked, it was clean. Howver, halfway thru the test drive, the SERVICE 4WD light came on the dash. that was the dealbreaker, i wasn't yanking out a t-case.
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Unread 12-03-2010, 02:02 PM   #4
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What'd be funny is if that Service 4WD light came on because of an incredibly easy to get to loose connection and the guy that ended up buying it was able to fix it no cost.
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My rigs:

1985 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci OHV inline six | 4-speed OD manual | 310K | No power brakes | Running 100% - It hasn't driven this good in 15 years!

1984 Ford F150 | 4x2 | 300ci six | granny four | 3.55 rear end | 210K | Brakes shot. Rear drums are doing most of the work. Not fit to drive due to that.
1997 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0L Vulcan V6 | 5-speed automatic | shift-on-the-fly 4WD | 210,000 miles | Running 95% - Needs brakes on all four corners + bald tires
1989 Ford F150 | 300cid six...again | 5-speed | 4x4 | 160K | Needs brakes done as well. Oi!

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Unread 12-03-2010, 06:48 PM   #5
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It's still sitting at the dealership. But from what i've heard, all the connections suck to get at and pretty much require dropping the t-case anyway.
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Unread 12-04-2010, 03:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny McCormick View Post
What'd be funny is if that Service 4WD light came on because of an incredibly easy to get to loose connection and the guy that ended up buying it was able to fix it no cost.
Before I bought my GP I was looking at a 2001 Grand Cherokee with 160k. They(the stealership) wanted 2k for it because the steering linkage was "broken". My dad took a look at it and mentioned to me that it was just the bolt that holds the knuckle to the nub on the steering rack was broken. However my mom being the cautious one said there could be other things wrong and jewed me out of getting a great deal on a nice Jeep. V8 too. Oh well. Live and learn.

They also said if they could find out and fix what was wrong, they would mark it up to 6k.
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Unread 12-04-2010, 12:54 PM   #7
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Yeah that sounds like a stealership to me.
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Unread 03-30-2011, 12:56 AM   #8
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Me too was planning to buy a used car. so I was in search of this tipes and finally I got some useful tips which will be very useful for me while I purchase my car.

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