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Don’t by lemon
Unsatisfactory or defective cars are called lemons. You don’t want to waste money on them, so here are suggestions how to buy best car possible.
Check the engine plate on the car corresponds with that given on the registration documents and that it has not been tampered with or changed.
Always inspect the bodywork in good light. Look for rust at the top and rear of the front wings, along the side sills, below front and rear bumpers and the bottoms of the doors.
Walk around the car and look along the doors and wings from each of the four corners. Any crash repairs will show up if they have not been well done. You will see ripples or a change in the texture of the paint if there is a lot of body filler underneath. Take a small magnet with you, it will be attracted to metal but not to plastic body filler. Look also for variations in the paint color.
Look for rust perforation on inner wings, the bulkhead and any cross members and chassis members visible under the bonnet. If you see any, reject the car. Beneath the car check side sills, chassis legs, cross members and subframes. Tap suspicious areas with a lightweight hammer, or push hard with your hand to detect the ‘give’ of weakened metal. Be wary of freshly applied underseal – could be hiding weakened metal.
Look at brake pipes, if they are crusted or pitted with rust, these could be dangerous.
Check the odometer, if the numbers are very low for car’s age the mileage may have been altered. Look to see if the mileage corresponds with the general condition of the car. A worn or sagging driver’s seat and carpet are other signs of high mileage.
Engine. A dirty engine and surrounding area means that the car hasn’t been well looked after and that servicing may have been ignored.
Heavy rattling or knocking noises shortly after start up could indicate wear of the crankshaft and big-end bearings. Listen for clattering or light knocking noises from the top of the engine – they indicate camshaft wear.
Ask if it is possible to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic. If it is ask the mechanic to carry out a cylinder compression test to assess the condition of the engine and also to estimate the cost of any repairs he thinks may be warranted. You can then ask for the cost of these repairs to be deducted from the asked price.
- Make sure you’re educated about the additional costs of ownership e.g. insurance costs, approximate fuel expenses (considering fuel grade and fuel economy), expected maintenance costs, etc.
- Ask to see vehicle documentation as required by your province
- Discuss price and come to an agreement with the seller. If you’re offering less than the listed price, explain why and state your price. It may be related to what you found during your inspection.
- The seller may reject your offer. If so and you’re not willing to pay more, tell the seller to give you a call if the car doesn’t sell and he/she re-considers your offer.