One of the smartest financial decisions you’ll ever make is developing a habit of only buying used cars. While a brand new car may be enticing, it’s a total rip off. The vehicle loses thousands of dollars in value the moment you drive it off the lot and typically has to be purchased using costly financing.
Used cars, on the other hand, tend to be much savvier financial investments. You let someone else take the hit and you benefit by purchasing a vehicle at a much lower price. However, for all of the benefits that come with buying used, you do have to deal with one distinct disadvantage: maintenance and repair issues. Whether a used car has 15,000 or 100,000 miles on the odometer, there will almost always be some issues with used vehicles.
If you’re smart, these issues don’t have to become major problems. But the key is that you’re able to identify common problems and deal with them sooner rather than later.
Six Common Problems
A used car can have any number of issues. A lot depends on the brand and model, how it’s been cared for and maintained by previous owners, and whether it’s been in any accidents. But when you remove all vehicle-specific factors, you’ll find that the most common problems with used cars are:
1. Electric System
“Electrical problems are often ignored until they lead to serious car damage,” one expert notes. “However, you can avoid that by simply checking the electrical equipment of your car regularly. To do this, simply turn on all the electrical equipment that your car – or the car you are about to buy – has: clock, turn signals, hazards, power windows, windshield wipers, interior lights, headlights, and radio.”
If everything functions accordingly, then that’s a pretty good sign that your electric system is fine. If you notice issues, then it’s a good idea to deal with them as soon as possible.
2. Battery and Alternator
If your vehicle doesn’t turn on, or is taking a long time to turn over, you’re probably dealing with an issue related to the battery or alternator. This is totally common and you shouldn’t be alarmed. See a mechanic and have the issue identified. It’s a relatively simple, inexpensive to fix, your car will be performing like normal in no-time.
3. Brake System
Few aspects of your car are more important than your brakes. With that being said, they aren’t made to last forever. The three major parts that will need to be tuned or replaced from time to time are the brake pads, rotors, and calipers. While not a cheap repair, dealing with your brake system is fairly inexpensive when compared to some other problems.
4. Fluid Leaks
Your car requires a lot of different fluids to run properly. If your vehicle is leaking fluids, then you can experience a variety of issues – including loss of air conditioning, an overheated engine, or just about anything else.
You may be able to detect a fluid leak by looking underneath your parked car and making note of any puddles that form. But sometimes the leak is so small that you won’t notice it right away. The best thing you can do is have a mechanic take a look under the hood. Fixing a leak is usually pretty simple and can prevent much costlier problems from arising in the future.
5. Hoses and Belts
Your engine has a system of hoses and belts that are used to help your car function properly. If one of these hoses or belts breaks, you’ll be in trouble. The good news is that identifying these problems is fairly simple.
Start by opening up the hood of your car and manually inspecting hoses and belts. If you see any cracks or tears, then you should have them replaced. You can also turn on your engine and listen for strange squeaks and squeals. This will give you a fairly good idea of whether or not something is going on.
6. Rust and Body Damage
While not as serious as any issue involving your engine, rust and body damage are certainly prevalent among older vehicles that haven’t been properly maintained. Most rust will be visible to the eye, but you should look underneath the vehicle and in other inconspicuous places for signs of deterioration. If there’s rust on the engine, this is a sign that a vehicle has had some serious problems. It’s best to stay away from these cars at all costs.
Improve Your Inspection Skills
While some problems are hidden and won’t emerge until months or years after you purchase a used vehicle, there are plenty of things you can do during the purchase process to ensure you’re getting a vehicle that’s in good condition.
At Kwik Kar of Tulsa, we frequently suggest that our customers use an inspection checklist when buying a used a car. Start by test driving the vehicle and making mental notes on how it performs and feels.
Next, you should have an auto repair mechanic take a look at the engine, tires, and brakes. It’s also smart to look for signs of small cracks on the windshield and glass.
Then, turn your attention to the interior, taking note of any strange odors and examining the condition and function of all individual features. Finally, open the trunk, check for moisture, and make sure a spare tire is included.
Get Serviced at Kwik Kar
It’s a myth that cars can only last for 100,000 or 200,000 miles. Most of today’s vehicles, if maintained properly, can run for much longer. The important thing is that you set up regular service appointments and religiously care for your car’s engine and other important systems.
At Kwik Kar Oil Change & Auto Repair, we want to be your service partner. For more information on how we can help you maintain your vehicle, please contact us today or set up an appointment at our Tulsa location.