Red flags for when shopping for used cars

March 2, 2017

Acquiring a pre-owned car is convenient and reasonably cheaper than buying a new car. Although it seems like a good idea, the buyer should proceed with caution if they are considering doing so. The seller could be hiding mechanical problems, service records and other critical information about the car. An investigation should occur before purchasing of the vehicle.

There a number of signs to look out for when in the market for a used car.

Fresh coat of paint

A paint metre gauge should be used to check if the vehicle has been repainted. If the vehicle has been recently painted, this could be an early warning sign that there are issues with the car. The owner selling the car could have been involved in a collision that wrecked the vehicle. The seller could repaint the car without the insurers knowledge, so he can sell it for a higher price. If the vehicle was in an accident this means that the value of the car should be significantly less.


The pre-owned car might have only been in the market for just couple of years, but it has already had multiple owners. This could be a major problem. It could be a telling sign that the owners were not satisfied with the quality of the car and there is a defect. It’s best to rather buy a vehicle that has had one owner for a long time.

Rebuilt salvage vehicle

Rebuilt salvage means the car was deemed to be totaled by an insurance company, and is considered to be beyond repair. The vehicle is then reconstructed by professionals. The vehicle at hand might be tempting to purchase since it will now be sold at a much lower price. It’s best to take heed and to make sure the vehicle does not have any major problems.

Quantity of accidents

If the vehicle has been in a series of accidents, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. The vehicle will probably not be in top condition. If the damage from the accident was minor then the buyer does not have a lot to stress about. If the damage was severe however, the potential buyer has to take the necessary protocols to make sure that it will not dent their pockets ultimately. The buyer can do a thorough inspection of the car to make sure the vehicle functions adequately.

A ridiculously low price

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The price of a vehicle can also be an indication that there is something off with the sale. The owner selling the vehicle might want to get it quickly off their hands because there are mechanical issues with the car. They might want to incite you by offering an extremely low price.  


Is the engine rusty? Rust is detrimental to an engine’s durability. If the vehicle has not been used for lengthy ends of time then the vehicle might be prone to rust. Low temperatures can also contribute to the rusting of an engine. A thorough investigation of the car’s parts is needed before buying the pre-owned car. The pre-inspection should be done by a professional who will be able to assess the vehicle’s condition and any underlying maintenance issues. Take the time to also check for abnormal wear on the brake pedal.

Refusal of Inspection

If the seller comes up with dozens of excuses when a request for an inspection has been made, this should set alarm bells off. This could mean the seller has a hidden agenda and doesn’t want the buyer to know. The buyer must insist on a inspection to avoid a headache later. The vehicle might not be in excellent condition and the seller might be trying to hide mechanical problems. There could be significant problems if the vehicle was in an accident before and that could cost you in the long rung run.

Missing records

The potential buyer should not purchase a vehicle if there are no service records. The buyer needs to know there has been maintenance done on the car over the years. The oil filter, air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs are just a number of checks commonly performed during a service. The buyer must make sure this has been maintained over time.

A pre-owned car may seem like a good idea, if you are low on funds. It’s best to formulate and make a decision after a thorough investigation of the vehicle.  The price of the car might seem like a bargain, but do not fall for that age-old pricing trick. Take the time to do a bit of research and ask critical questions. Why is the seller in such a hurry to get rid of it? Why has the vehicle had such a high number of owners in such a small time frame? This research should ultimately help you make the best informed decision.

You Might Also Like