Buying a second hand car is an effective way to get a good vehicle at a low price. Yet this also comes at the risk of a varying degrees of quality and many other hidden costs.
Many of these costs, however, can be expected. If you know what you will likely have to pay for, you can factor this into your negotiations, as well as plan your finances out better. Here are 5 of the biggest and most important expenses you need to consider.
When you acquire an old car, there’s often no telling how long the the car tyres have been on there for. Even if they look new, you should do always inspect them and get an idea of how long they will last.
In many cases, it’s often better to get new ones, as this offers numerous benefits. You want the best car tyre for you, not the previous driver.
For example, if you buy a car in the summer, but the owner hasn’t used it for a few months, it might come with winter tyres, which aren’t useful for this season.
The same can also be said for the various parameters that you hold important. Do you have strong grip and braking on wet conditions, or prefer a low rolling resistance and fuel economy? Each driver has a different driving style, as well as a different driving environment and road conditions, so tyres are a great way to adapt the car to your actual needs.
Just like the car tyres, few second hand cars come stocked with the right car fluids, such as engine oil, coolants or brake fluids. This should be expected – if you were selling a car, you wouldn’t want to spend too much money on these areas, either.
This is something you can always ask about if you’re serious about any given car (don’t be afraid to bring a dipstick to test the oil, for instance), but you should generally always top-up these fluids wants the car is yours. This way, you’re aware of the levels and there won’t be any surprise overheating because of a sudden lack of coolant, for instance.
This point will be obvious to some drivers, but it always catches others unaware. Never take the sellers word at face value. The only way to guarantee a car is in a great working condition is to see recent results from a garage.
Even if there are a few faults, this is fine. By knowing the problems, you can estimate some rough costs, which you can then factor into negotiations. Without any of this knowledge, any car could have a potential risk attached to it, which is always something to be aware of.
This even applies to the general appearance of the vehicle. Does the inside need cleaning and are there a few dents on the outside? If the wheel rims haven’t been cared for, they may have lost their protective coatings and lacquer, leading to potential rust issues. If you care about aesthetics, you might also want to factor in the costs of respraying a car, if the existing paintwork needs extensive work.
Similarly, the suspension is always something you might need to consider after buying a new car, as this is very difficult to check from the outside. While you can lean on the corners and observe how the car supports itself, this itself is no perfect test.
If struts are starting to rust or wear, for instance, then this might make itself clear a few weeks or months down the line. This will manifest itself in poor driving comfort, especially when turning.
Finally, your fuel economy is one of the biggest running costs you will encounter. As a second hand car should have less insurance, the consumption rate is something worth looking into. A good seller will be open and honest about the mileage, as well as the per gallon values, with receipts to prove this.
If you drive at peak hours, the car will burn more fuel just from being idle, as well as stop-start driving. If you have to use your vehicle at these busy periods, no car can change that.
However, like many of these factors, you also need to consider your own driving style. If you’re more aggressive than the previous owner, your fuel rate will naturally go up.
While this is something that can be countered. Pay attention to your tyre speed index and rolling resistance, for example, while a low weight, aerodynamic car will go much further, too. Adapting your own habits will have a much bigger improvement all-round.
As you can see, there are a few important factors to consider. What you should always bear in mind, however, is that nothing will stop a previously owned car from deteriorating in resellable value. This is the natural state of the automotive industry. These tips will, on the other hand, ensure you don’t spend too much when the car is yours, as well as keeping its resale value as high as possible.
Bilal Sajjad is a full-time writer who loves to write about new cars, classic cars and good at writing about cars racing as well.
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