When it comes to buying a used vehicle it can be a very intimidating task and that is because most people have no idea about how vehicles works. Moreover many of the used vehicles out there have had less than a stellar life and you don’t want to be stuck with a lemon.
At Splashes we have seen it all! Therefore we have put together a list of 10 simple things to do when shopping for and test driving used vehicles. These simple checks will help you buy the best used vehicle you can and you don’t have to know anything about cars to arm yourself with them.

1- Check the trailer hitch for signs of wear. For example where you’d put the pin in to hold the receiver. If this is oval instead of round, the truck has done a ton of towing. Does it have an electronic brake controller installed? Maybe this is why the transmission has recently been replaced? These are all signs of trailer towing and possible premature wear.

2- Open the driver door and look down; is the lower inside painted sill showing lots of wear? If so the vehicle my have been used for work. This wear points to the driver getting in and out of the vehicle many more times than would be usual for a regular commuter.

3- Check and use the wipers. If they are in good shape it is my opinion that this shows an owner who cares and probably maintained their vehicle. Someone who is unwilling to spend $40 in order to see clearly and drive safely certainly will not spend money on maintaining the rest of their vehicle.

4- Crawl underneath and have a look around. Most people never look under a vehicle and therefore most don’t think of cleaning this space either. Therefore you don’t need to be a mechanic to look underneath. Don’t be embarrassed, get down lye on the ground and have a peak. If you see gouges, scratches, dried muck and mud jammed it the under carriage this is a sign of a rough life. But be careful as you do not want the underside looking too good either. Remember this is an area nobody normally thinks about and therefore if a used vehicle has been freshly undercoated and looks perfect then run away as this is a sure sign of someone hiding something.

5- Brand new tires are not always a good thing. If someone invests what can often be nearly $1000 into tires and then shortly after is selling, this can often point to something else wrong with the vehicle. Nobody makes money selling vehicles (except for dealers or scammers). Selling a vehicle is often a loss for us regular folk and therefore most people will not spend another $1000 on tires just before selling a vehicle.

6- People lie; believe what you will, but without paper proof of maintenance and history you truly have no idea what you are buying.

7- Mileage can and and often is rolled back even with digital odometers. Trust your gut; if a vehicles seats and interior seem to have more wear than what would be expected for the mileage then no matter how good a price leave it be and find another one.

8- Do a cold start and listen. Any vehicle that has passed the above you must go back for a a second time and ask the owner to ensure the vehicle has not been driven or warmed up. Before starting it open the hood and (carefully) feel around to ensure the engine is completely cold. Then roll down the windows and start the vehicle. Listen and look out the side view mirrors. If the engine is noisy and there is smoke of any color coming from the tail pipe this is a sign of an engine with some internal wear.

9- Finally don’t save on the paperwork and do a Carproof check. Carfax is the American equivalent of Carproof so make sure you are using the right one. To be totally sure get an inspection done at a local and independent reputable garage. Locally in Surrey I would suggest Adam at Budget Brake and Muffler.

10- If the seller tries to convince you not to do the above because they have someone else coming right after you or that they have had a ton of calls and you have to hurry to make a decision they are likely pulling a fast one. Don’t be in a rush to buy as there are plenty of cars and you will find the right one with patience! And always look at a vehicle in the daylight when it is not raining.


Splashes Auto Glass and Detailing is located in the Surrey Auto All. We specialize in vehicle reconditioning and glass replacement. With state of the art products and services such as X-Kote Paint Restoration and Scratch Repair , Armaguard Spray On Truck Bed Liners and ICBC Glass Express Windshield Repair we are much more than just a car wash.