How to Test Drive a Used Car or Truck
Every used car has a story. If only the vehicles could talk, the stories might even be true. I recently drove quite a distance to look at a six year old Buick that a very elderly man was selling privately. (Why is it that we are so eager to trust the elderly?) He explained that the car had been sitting in the garage for 4 years and rarely used since his wife died. The mileage was 17,000. He was asking $6,800.
The Buick looked to be in pretty good shape and so I asked to take it for a test drive. He handed me the keys and off I went driving through his meticulously landscaped retirement community. As soon as I put my hands on the steering wheel, I noticed that it was rough instead of smooth. I thought that was odd considering the low mileage of the car. So, after the test drive, I decided to take a look at the pedals for wear. Sure enough, those pedals indicated mileage closer to 117,000 miles rather than 17,000.
As I pulled into the driveway to return the car, another potential buyer pulled up. Interestingly, he was interested in another vehicle parked on the street, being sold by the same elderly gentleman. This made me even more suspicious. What was an old guy, living alone since his wife died, doing with one car in the garage, two in the drive and one on the street?
"Then I Jiggled the Steering Wheel"
Lastly, after I turned the engine off, I jiggled the steering wheel to see how much movement there was. (There should never be more than one inch of play.) Sure enough, it moved considerably more than an inch and indicated that a new steering gear box might be necessary in the near future. It also made me once again doubt the truthfulness of the mileage.
I pointed out some of my concerns to the old gent and he became quite belligerent. The discussion became so ugly so fast that I ended up telling him that his story made no sense unless his wife had hands made of sandpaper and I promptly left.
The moral of this story is two-fold. First, be observant. Many times, noticing what’s going on around you can be just as informative as kicking the tires. Does it make sense? Does the story jive with the facts? Ask questions. Often, there is a good explanation for something that seems out of place. If not, go elsewhere.
Also, you can glean a lot of information by just checking the steering wheel and pedals since people rarely update these parts. That makes these simple tests a good indication of the car’s true history.
Never Buy a Car with Frame Damage
Another quick check of the radiator will let you know that the vehicle has suffered frame damage. (Never buy a car that has frame damage.) You can tell this by looking at the core support of the radiator. This connects to the fenders in the front of the vehicle. If it appears to be welded, instead of bolted, that indicates frame damage.
Most importantly, check the history of the vehicle you are looking to buy. You can do this at a variety of websites like carfax.com. And, finally, no matter how cautious you are, there are no guarantees. This is why it is so very important to protect your investment with an extended auto warranty so you won’t be paying those repair costs down the road.
As sure as the sun shines, car repairs are in your future. Time to consider the insurance of an used car warranty that will protect you, your vehicle and your wallet.
For Warranty Protection Call Toll Free 1-888-418-8231
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