So you’ve bought a new-to-you car. You’re happy with your purchase. You researched the make and model, and scoured over the “for sale” section for weeks. After hours of searching and negotiating, the used car is yours. Now what?
The price of used cars is skyrocketing all across America. A recent study found that the average used car price was $29,011, up 39 percent from just a year before.
With prices rising, you may bid quickly on a used car, trying to secure its purchase. That also puts you at a greater risk of investing in a used car that may have problems.
With a fast purchase process, how do you know? After buying a used car, your best course of action is to take it in for a thorough inspection. It’s a great way to get to know your used car a little better, and have a better understanding of its condition.
Taking your car in for a maintenance inspection
When you purchase a used car, your first thought might be to take it out on the open road and see how it drives. It’s new to you, appears to run well, and you’re excited about having reliable transportation.
Yet before you park it in the garage and return to daily living, take some time to ensure you made a sound purchase. Schedule a maintenance inspection with one of our mechanics.
A good place to start is with an oil change. This will help you develop a pattern with your car, and start you on the road to success. Vehicles need fresh oil every 5,000 miles or so to ensure they operate well. This will also put you in charge of what type of oil your car uses, and ensure quality throughout.
From there, by alerting a mechanic that you’re the new owner, they will be able to move through the car carefully, evaluating different systems for safety and security.
A diagnostic test will ensure the technology is working well. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure every system operates at its best levels.
Fluid checks are a great place to start
A mechanic may also test each fluid level to ensure they are in good condition. If you don’t know when they were last changed, it’s a good way to move forward. Other fluids to check include:
Coolant – coolant (also known as antifreeze) plays an important role in keeping your engine at operating temperature. Check with your owner’s manual for more details, but in general, manufacturers recommend flushing and replacing your coolant every one to two years. Some models use extended life antifreeze, which may last up to five years.
Brake fluid – brake fluid is important to the overall health of your brake system. It’s also one of the most commonly overlooked fluids for replacement. Over time, brake fluid becomes contaminated with particles that compromise the fluid. This reduces the stopping power of the car, which puts you and your passengers at risk. A mechanic can evaluate the risk inside your brake system, and help you make the right call. It is typically replaced every two years or so, depending on the make and model of your car.
Transmission fluid – does your car’s make or model have a history of transmission problems? Why not start it out right and replace the transmission fluid now. Fluid replacement is necessary around 60,000 miles for most vehicles. But if you aren’t sure of how the car was handled by the previous owner, it’s a good idea to replace it now. A higher mileage used car is the perfect candidate for a transmission fluid replacement. It prevents future breakdowns on the road.
Used car problems – fix them early
When you invest in a used car, you hope to have a reliable car for years to come. Initial maintenance checks are a great way to ensure it doesn’t leave you stranded by the side of the road.
What’s the most critical system on a vehicle? Arguably, many would state the braking system ranks high on the list. Imagine coming home from a day of skiing and the braking system stops working. Yep, it’s easy to see how vital brakes can be.
That’s reason enough to let a professional mechanic look at the braking system of your new used car.
Start with the obvious – the tires. If the seller shined them up, defects may be a bit hidden. A mechanic knows what to look for, and will spot potential problems. They will check the date the tires were manufactured, and inspect them for signs of damage. If they’ve been sitting for a while without moving, they may have cracks on the sidewalls. A mechanic can pick up on these nuances and give you a better idea of what to watch for.
From there, they will test brake pads, brake rotors, and ensure the hydraulics are working well. They can alert you to how much brake pad is left, to give you a better idea of when they’ll need replacing in the future.
Mileage – it tells a lot
Every part of your car has a lifespan. The more mileage on your vehicle, the more parts will need replacing.
With a new car, every part starts at the beginning. They wear down as you operate under normal driving conditions.
But with a used car, you have no idea how the previous owner maintained the vehicle. Were they proactive? Or did they wait for maintenance problems to surface?
When you invest in a used car, you’re choosing your starting point. You receive the vehicle as is, but you’re in control of how well it operates in the future.
If you want your used car to last for years to come, the best course of action is to err on the side of maintenance, and choose to invest in repair work now.
A full inspection will help you determine what parts to replace now, and give you a schedule of what to replace in the future. Having a professional mechanic on your side will create a routine that allows your used car to be in the best shape possible, now and well into the future.
Did you recently buy a used car? Congratulations!
Let us help you get the longest life possible from your purchase. Schedule your used car inspection today.