Virtual Test Drive
by Pat Goss
Used cars can be a tremendous value but you have to buy them properly, and of course one of the ways to do that is on the Internet. Now make sure that when you’re checking prices on the Internet that you’re checking prices on vehicles in your part of the country, because prices vary around the country.
But once you have selected the car and you’ve got an idea that you really want to look at this particular car, what are some of the things that you need to check out? Well, one thing is to make sure that there is a service history with the car, and that’s especially important if the car has warranty remaining on it, because if it hasn’t been properly serviced the warranty might be void. Check to make sure it has all of its books and papers as well.
Then you actually have to look at the automobile itself, and one of the first things you do is you look through the windshield at the VIN, the vehicle identification number plate. You’re looking for scratches or marks on it which could indicate that it’s been tampered with. You’re also looking at the little rivets that hold it in place: the rivets should be hollow - if they’re not, if there’s little pieces of metal sticking up out of them, chances are there’s some kind of story with that automobile.
Certainly you also want to look down the sides of the vehicle for any signs of obvious accident damage, and then you want to get serious. And the reason you want to get serious is because there is a group of individuals called “curb stoners” that like to take cars that have been damaged, fix them up and make them look great and sell them. And you don’t get a good value.
Inside the door look for over spray, any signs of over spray in there, any signs of body work, get down under the doors and look for remnants of tape and things like that, anything that’s suspicious. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy it if there is over spray or something but you need to know why it occurred.
And remember that curb stoners replace a lot of things inside a car like seat covers and carpeting and so on. They’re easy and inexpensive things to do and make the car look great, too. What they can’t do in most cases is replace door panels and steering wheels and various things like that because they cost too much, they take too long to get. So if you see abnormal wear any place on any of these hard items around the car, you probably want to walk away from it or at least do a lot more research.
If you do it all right you can get a great deal and a great value.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.