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Till The Wheels Fall Off, Literally...
Don't let unexpected problems ruin your Used Car buying experience!

Guest Post by Neil Ostrander

Someone I know recently bought a used car that he planned to fix and give to his daughter. The car was older and had some mechanical problems, but he didn’t mind because he was pretty good at basic auto repairs. One thing he wasn’t familiar with, however, was the damage that can be caused by salt and snow; he’d always lived in the Deep South, and the car he’d just bought had spent a lifetime here in Northern Midwest. That meant he really knew nothing about what people look out for when buying Used cars in Ohio.

As he maneuvered the car onto the rollback, something surprising happened. The rear wheel axle broke. The tires were jutting out, and the car wouldn’t move. It looked like the automotive version of a broken arm or leg; the rear wheels were bent at a weird angle and just looked wrong. It had never occurred to a Southerner to look at the underside of the car. If he had, he would have seen the extensive rust caused by road salt.

This is just one example of the subtleties of car aging that can you leave you with a lemon. The safety of you and your family is at stake! Here are some other things to look out for when buying a used car:

  • Be sure to test all of the lights, gauges, and any power accessories, such as locks, windows, mirrors, and seats. The horn and windshield wipers should also be checked.

  • Ask for receipts if the seller claims that extensive repairs, such as the installation of a new engine or transmission, have been performed.

  • Look at the engine before and after test driving to see if the seller has been cleaning off oil blow-by, indicating that the engine would probably need to be replaced or rebuilt. Also check the fluids and see if anything is leaking underneath the car.

  • Check the condition of the belts and hoses.

  • Look for signs of water damage, such as mildew, discoloration, or a strange smell, to make sure you’re not buying a car that has been in a flood.

  • You may want to get a report on the car using the VIN number if you have suspicions about its history.

 Finally, if your car is from one of the snowbelt states, like Ohio or Michigan, always look for rust on the underside so your wheels don’t fall off unexpectedly. Your car will be a lot safer, and your old ride will be with you a lot longer.

Literally!

Published 2/13/2012

Trashy Volvo