Buying & Selling

3 Things to Look For When Buying a Used Car

At Rocket Auto Buyers, we buy cars – however if you’re selling a car you’re likely also about to buy one. How quickly the shoe ends up on the other foot!

Knowing what to look for will also help you figure out what a potential buyer might think is important when they view your soon-to-be former vehicle for the first time. Here’s 3 things to look for:

1. Small Indicators of Maintenance History

Droopy headliner, a knob missing from the radio, long-gone windshield wipers. These seem like tiny little things… after all, each could be easily fixed for less than $30, right? Exactly. If the previous owner couldn’t even bring themselves to replace a $6 volume knob, what other more serious maintenance did they ignore? These seem like petty things, but when you’re considering a vehicle to buy you can’t ignore these things.

2. Engine Lights

Engine lights aren’t actually as big a deal as most people think – most of the time. For example, 90% of “Check Engine” lights are actually triggered by a loose gas cap. Tightening or replacing the cap can usually fix this. Other lights may be something more serious, but don’t think of engine lights as an automatic death-sentence. If you want to be really thorough, get one of these $14 diagnostics tools and ask permission to do a quick scan when you’re viewing the vehicle to translate any codes or engine lights for you. If the owner of the vehicle gets defensive or declines, you should probably walk away anyways. If you see a scan is something minor like a gas-cap, you know you’re in the clear and you can now use this as ammo in your negotiations.

3. Dodgy or Dishonest Answers

There’s something about every car that the owner probably wishes didn’t exist, something broken or damaged that they think will hurt the value. Chances are, it probably will. nobody wants to buy a car with warm A/C or funny sound when it’s warming up. There’s nothing wrong with this, life happens, it’s ok if something is broken on a car, however if this is the case you should always be upfront about it (and expect it the other way around). If the owner of the car you’re looking at isn’t reciprocating, this is a red flag. There’s no such thing as a white lie when it comes to selling a car, only how much it will cost you to fix.

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