“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Afraid of Buying a Used Car? Get a New One, Instead.

I wrote a guideline on what things to look out for when buying a used car, and I deemed it right to post another one that details the things that one should consider before getting a new one. Being a family man, the first thing I ask about are the safety features. Next to that, I ask about the gas mileage. Then I take a look around the vehicle and I take about 20 minutes to check the engine. Only then do I take it for a test drive. And I don’t want to waste my time. If I don’t like a car at the onset I don’t bother the salesperson about it. And, by the way, I do research even before I go to a dealership. I check out the MSRP of vehicles, compare cars and check out the specs. Speed, for me, is not a prime consideration, mainly because I only do city driving, unless of course if the in-laws ask the family to visit. Even then I don’t drive fast because of the kids.

I also researched and found a checklist that’s very much like the one I cited in my previous post. I got this from the Better Business Bureau site. And I ignored the part about the safety features, specs, etc because those can be read off the manual or online. But when it comes to test driving the vehicle, here are a few things you should check out:

Visibility. Can you see the end of the hood and the trunk? Does any part of the car block your vision? Can you easily see all the mirrors?
Safety features. Check for manual or automatic seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and child safety locks.
Steering wheel placement. Are you comfortable behind the wheel? Is it easy to adjust the steering wheel, the seat, and mirrors?
Entry/exit. Is it easy to get in and out of the car from each position?
Seating. Does each passenger have plenty of head and leg room? Check rear seats, too. Fasten the safety belt in each position. Each belt should fit snugly across the hips; shoulder harnesses should ride comfortably across the shoulder.
Instrument panel and controls. While driving, can you quickly and easily check the speedometer and fuel gauge? Try the windshield wipers, lights, turn signals and other functions to see how easy they are to operate. Check the climate controls.
Trunk. Is there enough space in the trunk or cargo area? Is it easy to get to the spare tire?
Engine. Does it accelerate smoothly? Does it have enough "passing power?" Slow down and speed up a few times to check out the responsiveness of the engine. Does the engine idle smoothly, or does it appear to race?
Transmission. If the car has an automatic transmission, does it shift smoothly between speeds, without jolting? If it is a manual, check the feel of the clutch, and the ease of shifting gears.
Ride. Is the ride smooth? Does it offer responsive handling that makes you feel comfortable in all road conditions?
Parking. Does your car maneuver easily into a parking space? Does the steering wheel turn easily? Parallel park the car. Does any part of the car obstruct your view?
Braking. Take the car out to a stretch of empty road, accelerate to about 40 mph and make an emergency stop. Does the car stop in a straight line without pulling to one side? Do the brakes lock up?
Steering/handling. When your grip is relaxed on the steering wheel, does the car drift? At highway speeds, does the steering wheel provide a firm feel of the road? Is the car stable when you turn corners?
Noise levels. With windows closed, listen to the noise level. Listen for engine noises when accelerating. At lower speeds, listen for road noises and tire sounds. At highway speeds, listen for wind whistling outside the windows.
Exterior. Is the car's finish glossy and even? Check for evenly aligned body panels and secure trim.

If the car has passed all of those, and if it has passed your standards when it comes to look and/or image, delay buying it for another day and think about it over night. Do more research online. And if it really satisfies all your wants and needs, then you can get it the next day, assuming of course if it fits your budget. Be a smart buyer.