What You Need To Know When Buying A Pre-Owned Vehicle

What to Look For When Buying A Pre-Owned Vehicle

When it’s time to find a new daily driver but you’re not looking forward to the new car price tag, checking out a pre-owned vehicle is an affordable option but there are things that you should be on the lookout for. Taking a test drive of the vehicle you have your eye on is a good idea; that way you can get a feel for how the car drives, feels, looks, and even smells. Trust your instincts. If anything seems off to you, it’s okay to walk away and look at something different. At Nate Wade Subaru, we want to get you behind the wheel of a reliable pre-owned vehicle that will serve you well into the future. Below you’ll find a few things you should know before purchasing a pre-owned car, truck, or SUV. If you have any questions about our pre-owned inventory or the buying process, feel free to contact us or swing by our showroom at 1207 S. Main Street in Salem to speak to any of our friendly and knowledgeable sales staff.

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Be Aware of Consumer Protection Laws

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act might not sound familiar to you, but its nickname will: The Lemon Law. Enacted in 1975, this law entitles consumers to a refund or replacement if they buy a damaged or defective item. If the vehicle you’re looking to buy comes with a written certified pre-owned certificate, this law would cover that vehicle. If not, it’s up to your state laws to provide help. Each state is different, but Oregon’s Lemon Law states that the vehicle purchased during the warranty period could be used for personal, family, or for household purposes. If something goes wrong on the vehicle, the manufacturer must be notified in writing within 24,000 miles or 2 years so there’s an opportunity to repair the issue.

If the manufacturer or dealer was unable to repair the same defect after three attempts, the car was out of service for at least 30 days, or there is an issue that is likely to cause serious injury or death and is not repaired after one attempt, you’re entitled to receive a new vehicle or a full refund. It is up to the manufacturer, however, if you receive a refund or a replacement vehicle. We understand that problems can and will arise with any car, new or used, and you can rest assured that our team is here to support you in the event that you encounter an issue with your purchase. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of our team members at Nate Wade Subaru.

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Learn as Much as You Can About the Vehicle’s History

Knowing that the Lemon Law is there to protect your pre-owned purchase can offer extra peace of mind but not having to use it at all is preferable. One thing you can do to make sure the vehicle you have your eye on is worthy is to ask to see the maintenance record. This is an easy way to see what kind of care the vehicle has received. You can also have our service center technicians look at the vehicle to inspect it for any underlying issues. Nate Wade Subaru staffs our service center with only the best factory trained and certified technicians so you can rest assured they know what to look for and will be honest and straightforward with you about everything they discover.

Another good step to take to protect yourself is to get a hold of the vehicle history report. You can use the VIN number to receive reports of the vehicle’s title, how many owners it’s had over the years, and if it’s been in any accidents. It will also let you know if the mileage on the odometer is correct, if it was used for anything other than personal use, such as a taxi. You can discover if it was subject to flood or hail damage, if the airbag has ever been deployed, if there have been any recalls on this particular vehicle, and so much more.

Things to Look for on the Outside of the Vehicle

When you’ve picked the pre-owned vehicle you’re interested in, make sure to thoroughly inspect the exterior. You’ll want to pay special attention to the tires, the paint, and the general overall condition of the vehicle. Make sure the tires are all the same brand and show equal wear. Uneven tread will cause what’s called “feathering”; this can be a clear sign of misalignment. Examine the body for dents or scratches. While some can just be minor cosmetic blemishes, it can be a sign that the vehicle was in an accident. Small spots of rust or corrosion are okay as well, but large patches are problematic, affecting the car’s structural integrity.

Checking the frame for damage is an important step. On flat ground, look down at the vehicle and make sure everything looks even, including the doors, lines, and fenders. Check all doors to make sure they function properly and open the trunk to make sure it opens with no problems. If you notice a musty smell when you open the doors, it could be indicative of water damage. If you can, it’s always a good idea to get under the car to examine the undercarriage for rust or other damage. One easy test you can do is to run your finger around the inside of the exhaust pipe. If the engine is burning oil, you’ll find a greasy residue inside.

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Things to Look for Inside the Vehicle

While the under-the-hood inspection is best left to a professional, there are things that you can keep your eyes open for. Check to ensure that the area under the hood is free of rust or dents. Make sure all hoses and belts are in good condition and not cracked. It’s always a good idea to check all of the fluids and make sure the coolant is full. Transmission fluid should be pink or red and if you happen to smell burning, that’s evidence of a transmission issue. When you check the oil, verify that there isn’t foam residue in the oil cap and that the oil doesn’t resemble milk. These are clear signs of a leaking or blown gasket.

Things to look for inside the cabin include obvious wear and tear, including rips or stains on the upholstery. Make sure you test everything including the air conditioner, lights, stereo system, windshield wipers, and the heater. Double check that the turn signals and brake lights are in working order, do the windows roll down, and make sure the seat adjustment is working smoothly. Turn the vehicle on to ensure that no warning lights pop up on the dash and double check that the number on the odometer matches the number that’s on the paperwork.

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Take it for a Test Drive

Once you’ve finished your inspection, if everything has passed muster, it’s time to take your choice on the road. Just because this is the fun part doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. In fact, this is the most important test of all. When you turn the key, does the vehicle start right away or is there a lag? Make sure there are no odd noises or shaking as these can be warning signs of bigger problems. Try to vary your driving areas and run the vehicle on flat ground, hills, city streets, and the highway so you can vary your speed. It’s a good idea to drive across different kinds of roads so you can get a clear picture of how the car handles on pavement vs dirt roads. Also pay attention to the steering wheel; is it easy to steer and make turns or do you feel that you’re fighting it? If possible, it’s best to bring a friend along on the test drive to help document everything.

When you’re in the market for a quality pre-owned vehicle you can trust, stop by Nate Wade Subaru. We offer a vast inventory of pre-owned automobiles for you to choose from plus you can rest assured our expert technicians have tested and checked every vehicle before we put it on the lot. Browse our pre-owned inventory online or stop by our dealership today; we’re positive you’ll find a pre-owned vehicle to love.

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