5 Tips to Ensure You're Buying a Reliable Used Vehicle | Northside Auto Sales

by Miranda Milillo - Posted 1 month ago

Used car shopping can be a draining ordeal, especially when you’ve had little to no preparation. With so much information being thrown at you at once, it can be difficult to maintain focus on the most important details.

No two vehicles are alike, and when you peruse Northside Auto Sale's selection of cars, trucks, and SUVs, you'll be presented with a multitude of disparate options. Here are five tips to help you pinpoint exactly what you should be looking for in a vehicle to ensure you’re driving off our lot with a reliable ride:

Look Up the Vehicle History 

Just as we all have personal records documenting our lifetimes of accolades and mistakes, every vehicle has its own recorded history. It's important to research a car’s history prior to making a purchase, as it allows you to see all previous ownership and any accidents the vehicle may have been involved in.

The most well-run sports teams hesitate before offering players a long-term contract if they have a history of recurring injury. Likewise, you should be cautious when investing years of your future to a vehicle with an excess of baggage in its past. Use CARFAX, AutoCheck, or a similar VIN history service to get the dirt on your potential next vehicle before you commit to it. 

Check the Odometer 

While a vehicle’s history gives you its comprehensive life’s tale, its mileage is often enough to give you a summary of what it's been through. In general, the more mileage a vehicle has accrued, the more likely it is to require service. A car's longevity often depends on the auto maker who produced it as well, so make sure to do your research into which brands are the most durable.

The ideal vehicle either a.) has a relatively low odometer reading, or b.) is made by a brand with a reputation for building cars with longevity. Compare any potential vehicle’s odometer reading with its age to determine how much wear and tear it’s already accrued under previous ownership.

Thoroughly Inspect the Interior and Exterior 

Be as thorough as possible in checking every crevice of both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Some blemishes will be obvious, such as dents, scrapes, and frayed paint. But you’ll also want to closely review the tread of its tires and the condition of everything under the hood. Check the under-body for signs of rust and leaking fluids. In doing so, you should be able to confirm the information purported in the vehicle’s history. 

Don’t neglect the interior of the car either. We recommend a test drive (see below), but at the very least, turn the car on to make sure electronics and other features are starting properly. Be aware of any unusual odors or tarnishes to the upholstery. Even if these issues don’t affect the performance of the car, it may be enough to talk down to your preferred price range. 

Take It for a Test Drive 

There’s no better way to get a feel for the state of a used car than by putting yourself behind the wheel. Insist on a test drive before you make your decision, and don’t hesitate to put the car through its paces. Test the acceleration and brakes, make turns both sharp and wide, and drive it on a variety of surfaces, from highways to off-road terrain. 

Your new vehicle is responsible for keeping you on the road regardless of the season or situation, so make sure you test out as many scenarios as possible before you permanently drive it home.

Get a Second Opinion 

As with making any major life decision, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes at your disposal. Ideally, you’ll be able to get an expert’s opinion; making an appointment with an independent mechanic before you purchase, though time-consuming, will alleviate much of your car-buying anxiety. 

At the very least, bring a friend or family member with you to the dealership - preferably one with automotive knowledge. Share with them your checklist of details you want inspected before you purchase, in case you get sidetracked while dealing with the salesperson.

Drive Off Happy Today 

If you’ve followed all these steps and you’re satisfied with your findings, you should be good to go! You’ve researched the car, taken its odometer reading, inspected it inside and out, driven it for yourself, and gotten a secondary opinion. If you're on the opposite end of the spectrum and looking to sell, we've got you covered there too!

Schedule a test drive at Northside today. So many of our used vehicles will meet your car-buying criteria that your biggest dilemma will be choosing which to drive off our lot.