Purchasing a car can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider when making that big purchase, especially if it is your first car. So, before you sign on the dotted line, you may want to look into the following:
The overall appearance: This is where you can simply walk around the car to check the paint job for any scratches, dents, or rust spots. Try to see if the paint job is new and possibly hiding issues underneath it. There are two ways to check if the car has been repainted. First, look at the sides of the car from end-on to see if there is any waviness. Second, run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels for roughness. The roughness can indicate masking tape.
Tires: Make sure the car is ground-level before doing this next check. Once, the car is ground-level you will want to inspect the tires. The tires should all match and look to be worn evenly. Look at the surface of the tire for features to determine if the car has bad alignment. Lastly, take a step back and look at the car as a whole to view if the car is sitting on the tires correctly and not sagging.
Damage: You should always ask for the previous history of the vehicle before purchasing. This history will let you know of any wrecks that have happened. Its great to know about the previous accidents, but it is not the only thing you should be concerned about. You will also want to check for flood damage. Flood damage can be determined by simply checking the headlight and taillight lenses for any sign of moisture or condensation inside, lift the carpet to look for any muddy, moldy, or mildew smell and inspect the trunk for any rust.
Test drive: Never buy a car without test driving it first. When you take the car for a test drive, listen for sounds that may indicate engine problems. There should never be any whining, thrumming, or squeals. Make sure the steering stays straight, the transmission shifts okay from high to low, and that the brakes stop the car smoothly and soundless.
Engine appearance: You do not need to be a mechanic to tell if any engine may need work. Pop the hood and check the engine for rust, burnt oil, or grease. You want to make sure the engine is dry with only a dark grey residue if any.
Hopefully, after following these simple inspections, you will find a peach and not a lemon. Good luck!