How to Check for Issues When Buying a Used Car
Buying a used vehicle has its advantages. They cost less, depreciate slower, and insurance rates are much lower. However, with millions of car collisions every year and more frequent storms, consumers are more likely to buy a car that has been damaged.
Spotting Damage from a Flood
Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are damaged by floods yearly, and many end up on used-car lots.
The issue: Water can ruin a car’s electrical system. The damage can tarnish wires and terminals and lead to circuit malfunctions. It can also corrode mechanical parts and dilute engine oil. Sometimes the damage won’t show up for months or years.
How to spot it: If the vehicle smells like mildew or mold, water may have been trapped inside the dash or underneath the carpet. Look for rusted screws and evidence of a water line on door panels or lights.
Spotting Damage from a Fire
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 200,000 vehicles are damaged by fires yearly.
The Issue: While damage from a small fire can sometimes be repaired, the heat can weaken a vehicle’s electrical, mechanical and structural parts, making it dangerous to drive.
How to spot it: Look for body or hood panels of a different color, mismatched interior or dash parts, and new paint in the engine compartment. Check the glass for cracks and melted rubber. Look for warped aluminum, plastic parts, and new wiring under the hood.
How to Tell if a Car Was Stolen
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), car thefts increased by 17 percent between 2019 and 2021.
The issue: When a car has been stolen, it could have been vandalized, driven off the road, or raced on the street. The structural, suspension, electrical, or mechanical components could have been damaged during that time.
How to spot it: Look for mismatched paint, gaps between doors, body contours that are not uniform, and discolored upholstery. Test drive it to feel for wobbles or vibrations that could indicate the car has been mistreated.
Inspect It Carefully
Whether buying a used vehicle from a private seller or a dealership, always look over it carefully and take it to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection. Check the car in daylight on a clear day because floodlights can hide body defects. The vehicle should be parked on a level surface for easier inspection.
Watch YouTube Video: How to Check a Used Car Before Buying. The video below explains how you can inspect a used car to avoid getting stuck with a lemon.
Sacramento Car Accident Attorneys
I’m Ed Smith, an auto accident attorney in Sacramento. Working with the right legal team can make all the difference when you’ve been seriously injured in a crash. For free, friendly case advice, call our law office at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to speak to one of our knowledgeable injury attorneys.
Our California personal injury law firm has helped our clients obtain fair compensation for accident and wrongful death cases since 1982.
View our past case results on our Verdicts and Settlements page.
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
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