What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

February 5th, 2020 by

Buying a used car around San Diego, Kearny Mesa, and El Cajon is an exciting process. And we here at Norm Reeves Toyota San Diego want to make it as easy as possible.

That’s why we created this guide on things to look for when buying a used car. Read through our tips below, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Models & Features
Before you can even pick out your next car, you need to determine what you want. A great way to do this is setting a budget, so you know what you can afford. Next, you’ll want to create a wish list with the car style (or styles) you want, and the features you need.

If you’re a single commuter who loves technology, then you may want to look at a fuel-efficient compact or midsize sedan. If you have, or want to have, a large family, then an SUV may be more beneficial. Or, if you own your own business and need to carry lots of equipment around town, then a truck may be the way to go.

After you decide what type of car is best, you’ll need to think about the features you need that are within your budget. Having heated seats and a state-of-the-art navigation system are great. However, if you can’t fit both into your budget, then think about which would be more valuable. If you live in a colder climate, then you might want to get the heated seats. But if you need to travel a lot for work, then the navigation system might be more beneficial to have.

Vehicle History Report
After writing up a wish list, you’ll want to look at those cars more in detail. Reading through a vehicle history report is a great way to learn about a car’s history; this includes the number of previous owners, whether it had been an accident, and if it got routine maintenance work done.

CARFAX® is one reliable resource for history reports, as it pulls from a database of over six billion car records. All you need is the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), and you can easily look up info on a car that you’re interested in. This will also help decide if a specific car is worth pursuing further.

Exterior & Interior

After narrowing down your options, it’s time to check out some cars in person. When you arrive at the dealership, a staff member will walk you around the car. This is when you’ll want to look for any possible scratches, dents, or mismatched paint color. You’ll also want to look under the car for any potential leaks. Check the trunk to make sure the size is to your liking, and look under the hood to see if all the car’s components look good. There shouldn’t be any rust or leaks anywhere.

Next, look inside the car for any rips, tears, or stains on the upholstery. And be mindful of any strange smells in the cabin.

Sit behind the wheel, and make sure you can adjust the seat to get nice and comfortable. You’ll also want to double-check that all the buttons, dials, and knobs are within reach and work correctly.

If the outside and inside of the vehicle look good, you’ll then want to take it on a test drive. For a more effective test drive, you should have the radio and A/C off. This way, you can listen for any strange sounds, like a knocking engine or squeaky brakes.

Test the vehicle’s steering around wide turns and tight corners. Brake the car softly and hard (when safe to do so), to see how responsive the braking system is. You’ll also want to drive the car at different speeds on various terrains when possible to see how the car handles.

While driving, keep a list of questions in the back of your mind. When you get back to the dealership, ask the sales person all about the car: They’re well-versed in all types of vehicles, and are there to help you find your ideal one.

Learn More at Our Used Car Dealership
If you need more information about used cars, or are ready to start finding your perfect one, then contact us at Norm Reeves Toyota San Diego.

We’ve helped many drivers throughout San Diego, Kearny Mesa, and El Cajon find a great used car, and we look forward to helping you do the same.

So, don’t wait. Contact us today to get started!

Posted in Tips