It’s hard to believe that your kid is almost old enough to drive. It seems like just yesterday you were cheering as they took their first steps. Now you have a teenager who is eager to get behind the wheel. You talked to them about safe driving practices and set rules. Now you want to surprise them with their own set of wheels.
After much consideration, you decide that it will be best to buy them a used car. The car needs to be dependable, but a little wear and miles isn’t bad. As you shop for your teen’s new car, you will want to make sure that you do a full inspection to ensure that you understand the vehicle, it’s true value and any known issues.
Start with what you can see, hear, smell and feel.
Walk around the car and thoroughly inspect the vehicle’s appearance. Watch out for scratches, dents and tears. Fasten and unfasten all of the seatbelts to make sure they work. Lift the hood and open the trunk. Go ahead and take a sniff. It may seem like a strange thing to do, but you will want to check for oil, gas or other smells that are often attributed to engine issues.
Once you are satisfied with the walk-around portion of your inspection, take the car for a drive. While you test drive the car, pay attention to the brakes, how the car shifts and the smoothness of the ride. Hit different speeds while you drive the car to see how it preforms, and keep all of your senses alert.
Follow up with service history and a professional review.
Ask about service history and records, such as a Carfax report. Look over the previous maintenance listings. Vehicles that received greater upkeep, the better the chances it is in good condition. Look for any red-flags, such as constant or frequent issues that required service. Also, have the dealer check for any outstanding recalls. If you do a private sale, inquire about recalls through the manufacturer.
Finally, have a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle. They will look over the engine and all working parts.
Taking these steps could help you avoid purchasing a lemon. If the vehicle you do purchase ends up having several ongoing issues, check to see if your vehicle is protected by California and Federal lemon laws. You want your teen’s car to be reliable, and a lemon just won’t do.