Be Aware of What to Look for With a Pre-Owned Vehicle

What to look for when buying a pre-owned vehicle.

Pre-owned vehicles have their own highs and lows, just like any brand-new car, truck or SUV entering the market. Knowing what to look for in a ride that’s already got miles under the belt is an important part of ensuring that you’re picking the right ride for you. Buying a ride that’s preloved is a good way to be cost-effective, but only if you know if there’s anything that might need to be handled in the near future. Finding a vehicle for next to nothing is not usually a good sign and you might shell out more money than it’s worth just to keep it road-ready. At Nate Wade Subaru we do our part to ensure you have all the knowledge available to make an informed decision about your next ride. That includes knowing what condition a pre-owned ride is in and if something will need to be repaired or replaced sooner than later. When you stop in, pay attention to how the vehicle looks, feels, even smells. And when you take it out for a test drive (which we always recommend) see how it handles beneath your fingertips. If it’s hard to handle or doesn’t move smoothly you might be looking at more costly repairs in the near future. Take a look at what we’ve mapped out to help you check a pre-owned ride as much as possible to ensure it’s the right vehicle for you.

Photograph of the dashboard of a Subaru from the front passenger seat.

Vehicle History is Important

Knowing what your pre-owned vehicle’s been through up to this point is half the battle. If you’re checking out our preloved inventory, it’s a good idea to request a maintenance record if one is available. This way you can check and see what type of care the vehicle’s had overtime. If this option won’t work, our service technicians can certainly look the model over for underlying issues. Our technicians are factory trained and certified, so they are the best around to examine the pre-owned vehicle. They will give you an honest report of what they find so you can take that into consideration. A vehicle history report is also a good idea, which you can access with the VIN (vehicle identification number). With the VIN you can also look up things like how many previous owners and if it were ever in a collision as well as checking that the odometer reading is accurate. Other information includes what the vehicle’s been used for in the past (such as a taxi), if it’s had any damage due to weather, or if an airbag ever went off.

Close-up Photograph of the Subaru logo at the center of a black vehicle wheel.

Checking the Exterior

Take some time thoroughly examining the outside of your pre-owned ride. Checking out the tread on the tires and if they are all the same brand, if the paint is scraped, and if there’s any other dents to the overall condition of the body is a good place to start. Uneven wear on the tires could result in “feathering” which can affect the performance of your brakes and makes the vehicle unsafe. Take a look around the body and undercarriage and see if you spot rust or corrosion anywhere. Then take a step back and study the vehicle, checking to see if it rests evenly on the ground, else you might have to deal with damage done to the frame. It’s also good to check that everything works; see if the trunk and doors easily open and close, that no headlights are broken and that there’s no smells coming from the exterior or noticeable leaks.

Checking the Interior

When you’re done inspecting the outside, slide in and see how the interior looks. It’s easiest to have a trained professional inspect under the hood for any underlying issues, but you can check out the integrity of the ride from the inside. You can turn the car on and see if any warnings light the dashboard, if all the buttons work, and if you notice any interior issues such as damage to the seats or floor, a multimedia system that doesn’t work, high mileage, or any issues with the inside of the trunk. You can also check and see if there are any interior amenities on the pre-owned model that catch your eye.

Under the hood you can check for rust or dents, and examine the belts and hoses inside for wear. If you know how to, you can see if the fluids are at proper levels, including the coolant, and with the car on you can check for smells like something burning. This also gives you the chance to check for transmission issues by looking for red or pink fluid, and check for signs of gasket problems or a leak.

Heading Out for a Test Drive

At the end of the day, before signing on any dotted line, you need to take your chosen pre-owned ride out for a spin. This gives you a chance to see how it turns, drives, and accelerates. You’ll want to test out a variety of speeds between driving on the highway and slower in-town speeds. If it’s difficult to steer, if the brakes are questionable, or anything else immediately sticks out you’ll be able to tell when you sit down. And once those problems are identified, you and any of our expert team members can decide what to do from there. Visit us today and test drive a pre-owned vehicle that checks all your boxes.

Photograph of a Red Subaru Legacy Driving Outside a City.

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1207 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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