Just because your baby has a few years under her belt, doesn’t mean she that she’s “less-than” in your proud ownership eyes. Purchasing a used car is far more practical than driving a new set of wheels right off the lot. They hold their value for far longer, offer far more research and reviews, plus plenty of them look and drive in like-new condition!
That being said, there are a few things you should be mindful of when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle; most specifically, the maintenance of the car. If you want your new, shiny investment to last you for years to come, you need to make sure everything is in good shape beneath the hood.
Here’s our best advice on how to maintain your pre-owned vehicle with a little TLC that will go a long way.
Get The Seal Of Approval
If you’re just starting off on your search for a new car, congrats! The process is as fun and exciting as it is stressful and nerve-racking. You want to find the best value but you also want to buy a car you can count on – not a lemon that comes chock full of problems.
The best way to ensure the car you have your eye on has been properly maintained is to shop Certified Pre-Owned. This special recognition is only given to cars that have passed a 130+ point inspection and is guaranteed by the manufacturer to be in like-new condition. For example, if you were to buy a Certified Pre-Owned Audi, it would perform almost as well as if it were just unloaded off the boat.
Pro Maintenance Tip: Take your car back to the same service center. They’ll have the European parts your car needs at a much cheaper price than general body shops.
Create Your Own Inspection List
If you’re shopping off the lot, or just want to develop your own discerning eye, come prepared with your own used car inspection list. It’s true that websites such as AutoCheck disclose pertinent vehicle information including accident history, usage, recall information, flood damage, and odometer rolls backs. However, some car owners prefer to make DIY damage repairs in order to avoid reporting the accident and involving their insurance company.
The lesson to be learned here: Even though AutoCheck may show a clean title history, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the car is damage-free. You may be able to spot these camouflaged repairs and maintenance gaps with a thorough exterior inspection, interior inspection, and test drive.
Here are some major red flags to be on the lookout for:
- Tire tread passes the quarter test
- Headlights, brake lights, fog lights, and turn signals all work
- No chips in the windshield
- Body is in good condition
- No strange odors
- Interior controls (windows, A/C, audio, etc.) are functional
- Engine turns quickly
- Shifts gears smoothly
- No odd smells
- No odd sounds
- Alignment is satisfactory
Pro Maintenance Tip: If you see any of these signs, know that they usually indicate mighty maintenance work ahead.
Create A Service Schedule
Too many car owners fall into the trap of believing that they don’t need to maintain a used car. Why pour money into an older vehicle that works perfectly fine, right? Wrong. What’s “perfectly fine” is actually the gradual wear and tear that comes with time. The only way to slow down or prevent your car from aging—and having to swap out old parts with costly new ones—is to have your car checked and maintained regularly.
Stick to a servicing schedule and have your car looked at every three to five months. If you keep to a regular schedule, you’ll probably only spend around $1,000 to maintain your car for a year, but studies show that letting your vehicle wear down over time could cost more than $9,000 in repairs down the road.
Routine car maintenance should include:
- Oil changes
- Tire Rotations
- Brake inspections
- Replacing belts, filters, etc. as necessary
Pro Maintenance Tip: Many of these how to change car oil yourself. If you want to give your car the care it needs without racking up costs at the mechanic, learn how to change car oil yourself!
With the right mindfulness, you can keep your used vehicle running like new for thousands and thousands of miles to come.