Buying a used car can be a great way to save a little bit of money, but no one wants to end up with a lemon that needs countless repairs over the years. While an experienced mechanic should look over the vehicle before you are handed the keys, you can check for a few issues on your own. Catching mechanical and cosmetic problems early on could end up saving you thousands in the long run.

Smoke from the Exhaust System

Cars and trucks might produce some white smoke when they are first turned on in the morning, but the smoke should dissipate within just a few moments. Thick white smoke could be the result of a blown head gasket, cracked engine block, or an overheating engine. You should also be wary of any thick black or blue smoke coming from the exhaust.

Unusual Odors

Most unpleasant smells on the inside of a used car can be eliminated by wiping down the plastic and shampooing all of the fabric. If the smells won’t go away, then there could be major damage below the carpet or hidden behind the headliner. A musty or moldy smell might indicate that the metal frame has been exposed to water for long periods of time.

Body Rust

Body rust is one of the most common problems in older vehicles, and this type of damage can be caused by many different things. The underside of the vehicle, below the door panels, and the inside the engine compartment should all be checked for rusted metal. Luckily, some surface rust can easily be removed with a handful of basic tools. Rust damage that has created holes through the metal is much more difficult to repair.

Leaking Fluids

A single drop of fluid below a used car is rarely a problem, but well-maintained vehicles shouldn’t leak a significant amount in a short period of time. Before your test drive, you should look under the vehicle for puddles or old stains. Some cars will produce condensation when the air conditioner is left on, and that is generally not a major problem either.

Check Engine Lights

Car dealerships, like Woody Sander Ford, typically hook their used vehicles up to a machine to check on any engine warning lights. In many cases, those warning lights are caused by minor issues such as a loose gas cap or low pressure in the tires. Once those issues are taken care of, the warning lights should go off on their own.

If persistent issues arise post-purchase, a lemon law buyback calculation can provide an estimate of potential compensation under lemon laws.

Use Due Diligence When Buying A Used Car

In addition to visually inspecting the vehicle, you also need to spend some time driving it around. Quite a few issues won’t be noticeable until the engine has warmed up or the car gets above a certain speed.