If you’re in the market for a new-to-you car, you want to know the vehicle you’re looking at purchasing is well-maintained and cared for. You want to be sure it’s been kept not only clean but also cared for. It’s easy for an owner or a dealership to put their best foot forward with a clean car, but there are a few other signs you can use to tell if a car has been well-maintained by its previous owner or if it’s just been spruced up for the show. Don’t be fooled by a pretty car because you might just find that there is a lot you don’t know if you don’t look for the signs.
Check the Maintenance Records
If a car has a long history of good maintenance records, you’re in the market for a good car. You can check the maintenance receipts in the glove compartment or ask to see the records kept on the vehicle’s communication system. For example, a GM vehicle with OnStar has a long record of maintenance appointments and records in the system. If a car has been regularly maintained when it was needed, chances are good the vehicle is cared for in other ways as well.
Check the Owner Record
A one-owner vehicle is a better vehicle than one that’s been owned by more than one person. This certainly does not mean a car with more than one owner is a bad car by any means, but it does mean it’s a vehicle you might have more concerns about. If the car has one owner and the history is good, it’s a good sign the car has been well-maintained and cared for in every possible manner.
Check the Accident Record
You don’t want to buy a car that’s been in an accident, period. It’s not good news. Unfortunately, people are in accidents all the time, and it’s not always easy to tell when a vehicle has been in an accident. Check the CarFax report to find out if the vehicle you’re buying has been in an accident. If it has, walk away. While it might not mean the car is in bad shape or has any permanent or lasting damage, it does mean that the car has a greater potential for being a problem. You don’t want to buy someone else’s old problem, so walk away from a vehicle that’s been in an accident.
If a vehicle has high mileage, it certainly does not mean it wasn’t cared for by the previous owner. However, it does mean the vehicle is more likely to have excess wear and tear you don’t want to bother with. The vehicle probably has parts that need to be replaced sooner, they’re probably not as excellent as they appear to be, and they might have other issues. A car that average 10,000 miles per year is the kind of car that you want to buy. More than that is all right, but never buy a car that’s accumulated more than 15,000 miles per year.
Was it a lease?
A car that’s been returned following a lease period is often a wise choice for a car. It’s a sign that the car has been well-maintained, especially if the vehicle is listed as certified pre-owned by a dealer. The dealer knows it was maintained, it’s in good condition, and it’s a good car. If you can find a car like this, you should make an offer on it right away. If it’s not certified as a pre-owned vehicle, you might choose to overlook this car in favor of one that is.
Buying a new car is stressful for most people, but it’s made easier when you know what to look for. While it’s better to buy a used car from a dealer than an owner, you should know you can take these signs and look for a car with a good history. You cannot guarantee a car with a great history is going to be a great car for you or that one with a questionable history won’t be a great car. However, you should weigh the pros and cons and check your options.