With the prices of new cars skyrocketing, it’s easy to see why many folks on a budget are turning towards the used variety found at online auction sites. One of the main reasons more and more people are turning to these online auction sites to find used cars is because, unlike purchasing a car from a random listing, auction sites take the extra step and ensure that the vehicles that are in their inventory are in working order.
But, that does not mean that all of the cars will be worthwhile. Sadly, even online auction sites are not safe from the proverbial lemon. These are the vehicles that may look new and relatively unused but may have major issues that, while being fixed, can spell trouble for you in the long run. This is why it is important to carry out a physical inspection (either by yourself or a trained professional) of the used car that you are about to purchase at an online auction.
What’s a Physical Inspection?
When purchasing a used car at an auction, you’ll want to make sure that you have made a good investment. Even though the price you pay at a used car auction will be a lot less than the cost of getting a new car, that doesn’t mean you can just purchase any car willy nilly at an auction.
A physical inspection allows potential buyers to better understand the vehicle they are about to purchase. A physical inspection is an important step when it comes to purchasing a used car at an auction site, mainly because it reveals any small, serious, or hidden issues with the vehicle before you drive it off the used car lot. So, what can you expect and what to look for during a physical inspection?
Inspect (the Interior)
The inside of a car may be the most important. The rubber on the brake, clutch, and gas pedals indicates how much they’ve been used. An automobile with little mileage should be in good condition. However, the presence of worn-through — or brand-new — pedal rubber suggests that the automobile has been driven extensively.
Even if you aren’t sitting in the back, try out all the seats. The upholstery should not be shredded or badly worn, especially in a low-mileage vehicle. Check that all of the seat adjustments are in working order and that you can find a comfortable driving position.
Don’t forget to take note of the odor in the interior of the car you are about to purchase. Water leaks might have a musty, moldy, or mildew appearance. Look for any moist patches on the floor mats as well. Look for evidence in the lighter and ashtray (if available). Some odors, such as mold and smoke, can be very hard to get rid of.
Check the Tires
Check to see if the tires have been rotated on a regular basis. The wear on the drive wheels is generally more severe if this is not the case. Aggressive drivers are known for putting a lot of wear on the outer shoulder of the front tires towards the sidewall’s edge. If that location exhibits more wear, then the automobile has been driven aggressively.
Overinflated tires tend to wear more in the center than on the sides. Tires that have been underinflated for a long time have increased wear on the sides. Cupped tires—those that have worn unevenly around the circle of the tread—could indicate a problem with the steering, suspension, or brakes.
To be legal, tires must have at least 1/16 inch of tread. Use a quarter to check the depth of the treads. With Washington’s head down, place it in the groove. If the top of his head is visible, get the tires changed. Also, look for bulging, cracking, or scuffing on the sidewalls, as well as dents or cracks on each wheel. Make sure the spare is in good working order and that you have the right jack and lug wrench.
The Window Sticker
Window stickers are there for a reason. Every used car offered for sale must have a Buyer’s Guide posted by the Federal Trade Commission. It must contain particular information, such as whether the car is being sold “as is” or with a guarantee, and what proportion of repair expenses (if any) the dealer is responsible for paying.
It is usually affixed to a window. Any clauses in your sales contract that conflict with the information in the guide take precedence. To put it another way, if the handbook indicates a warranty protects the car, the dealer must honor it. Before the sale, the guide must be updated to reflect any changes in coverage that are agreed upon.
If a sale is marked “as is,” it indicates the dealer provides no warranties about the vehicle’s condition, and any issues that develop after you’ve bought it are your responsibility. Many states prohibit as-is sales of automobiles that cost more than a particular amount.
Inspect (The Exterior)
Look for dents, scratches, and corrosion on each panel and the roof. Look for mismatched panels or significant gaps, which might indicate improper factory assembly or substandard repair. Everybody panel should have the same paint color and finish.
Put a tiny magnet on a dent if you suspect it has been repaired. The magnet will not cling to a body filler-filled region. Paint may have adhered to the rubber seals around the hood and trunk lid if other elements of the automobile have been repainted.
The hood, trunk, and all four doors should be opened and closed. Lift and gently let go of each door, especially the driver’s door. If the car’s hinges appear to be loose, it’s been driven hard or for a long time. Rubber seals should be checked for tears or decay. Rust is a major reason for concern, so look for blistered paint or obvious rust on the body. Examine the wheel wells, under-door panels, and door bottoms.
No one wants to experience having bought a vehicle at an auction only to find out that it’s a lemon. In fact, that’s every potential buyer’s worst nightmare. While auction sites tend to inspect the vehicles that are auctioned in their inventory, nobody’s perfect.
This is why it is a smart idea to arrange your own physical inspection of the vehicle before purchasing it at an auction. The good news is that most legit online auction platforms have no qualms with customers getting a physical inspection of a vehicle just to be on the safe side.
However, knowing how to carry out the process and what to look for are two critical factors to consider when it comes to a physical inspection of a used car before buying at an auction.
Luckily, there are online platforms such as RideSafely.com that you can use to find out all there is to know about used car auctions, along with various other valuable resources that you can take advantage of when using used car auction sites.