Expert tips for inspecting second hand cars

A man inspects a low-kilometre used car for sale

Are you on the lookout for reliable second-hand cars for sale? The mantra ‘buyers beware’ holds true when shopping for used vehicles. While buying a car second-hand is an obvious financially savvy move, it comes with some risks. With so many used cars on the market and several dealerships vying for your attention, how do you block out the noise and decide which car to buy? Having your wits about you during the inspection and test-driving process is a prerequisite for success. You need to be able to spot the red flags and zone in on key inspection areas to get the assurance that you are making the right decision.

At Weelee, we want to help you find the most solid, dependable, trustworthy, and affordable second-hand car. 

Explore our 6-point checklist before signing on the dotted line:

#1 Research the model you have in mind

Before you even step into a showroom, it’s vital that you do your due diligence on the particular make and model you have in mind. Perhaps there are 3 or 4 cars you would consider buying and it’s simply a matter of seeing which second-hand car you can find in the best condition for the best bottom line.

Start by browsing new vehicles online to understand the specs and measurements of the vehicle you have in mind. Find reviews from owners and see if there is news of any recalls or common issues with the car. This will help you to know what red flags to look out for when you arrange an inspection of the used car in question. The process may enable you to rule out certain vehicles from your list before wasting time at the showroom.

#2 Examine the exterior

Whatever vehicle you’re looking at, it’s important to begin your inspection by thoroughly examining the exterior. Don’t let the salesperson rush you through this process. Look for signs of rust, dents, scratches, or mismatched paint, which could indicate a previous accident or neglect. 

Check the tyres for uneven wear and tear that may alert you to poor wheel alignment or suspension issues. 

Man checks a second-hand car for sale for dents and scratches

Expert tip: Consider taking a mechanic or seasoned used-car-buying expert with you when going to the showroom since they may observe some hidden gems that you as a layman may have overlooked. 

#3 Inspect the interior

Sit in the driver’s seat and take note of the cabin’s overall condition. Check for signs of excessive wear and tear including torn or scratched upholstery, a cracked dashboard, or non-functioning controls.

Check the functioning of each light, speaker, and indicator. Ensure the air conditioning, demister, radio, Bluetooth, child lock, electric windows (and other additional functions) are in working order.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Wriggle the wheels to check for indications of worn-out suspension components, test the brakes, and ask when they were last serviced. 

#4 Check under the bonnet

Open up the bonnet and examine the engine on the second-hand car for sale that you have your eye on. Observe for any leaks, corrosion, worn-out belts or hoses. Check the fluid levels and their condition, particularly engine oil (a milky appearance could alert you to a leaking head gasket, which could become a costly future repair job).

#5 Get behind the wheel

Depending on the person you are, taking the vehicle for a test drive can either alert you to some red flags or hinder you by putting your blinkers on as you drive your dream car without noticing the problems before your eyes. (This is where bringing a trusted mechanic or petrol-head friend can add sound advice to the situation). 

A woman test drives a second hand car for sale

Pay careful attention to how the vehicle performs on the road. Don’t use this opportunity to blast the stereo; switch off the radio. Listen out for unusual noises such as grinding, squealing, or knocking. Test the brakes for their responsiveness and smoothness. Note how the transmission shifts and assess the steering. 

#6 Examine the paperwork

Good second-hand vehicles for sale will always come with a solid maintenance track record. 

Assess the vehicle’s paperwork before signing off to buy a used car. Check the vehicle registration, service records, warranties, and repairs. Put the VIN into an online portal to track any major repairs (that may indicate an accident) and verify if the number corresponds to the car in question to ensure it hasn’t been stolen or tampered with.

#7 Choose a trustworthy dealership

Even when you have found the right vehicle, if it isn’t sold to you from a reputable dealer, you could be in for mounds of unnecessary after-sales problems and risks.

Weelee Megastore in Centurion

Here’s an additional checklist of questions for finding a dealer that aligns with your goal of finding a reputable second-hand car for sale:

Weelee ticks all these boxes and more! With a 4.75-star rating and over 4,100 reviews on Hellopeter, you can be assured that the Weelee Megastore in Centurion will serve you the best deal when buying a second-hand car.

Don’t miss our MOTOR MARKET!
Visit our convenient Megastore (just off the N1) seven days a week to find second-hand cars for sale at wholesale prices.
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