What do the professionals look for when evaluating the value of your used car?  Beyond supply and demand here are some other tips that will make you seem like a professional when either buying or trying to sell a used car:

  • Look for body damage by looking for dents and scratches on the panels at an angle.  By looking at the panels straight on some of the smaller blemishes might not show but these do reduce the overall value.  Also look at the paint color especially where panels come together; you are looking for the seams to be even as well as consistency of the paint.  Sometimes the paint may have an “orange peel” effect which indicates that the car was painted indicating a possible accident.
  • Check to see if any screws or bolts on the car have been turned.  If they look like they have been recently turned on a certain part of the car it may indicate that section was repaired.  Ask the owner what may have happened as it could indicate a previous accident.
  • When checking under the hood again look for turned bolts but also if the engine is not hot open the oil cap and look for a white bubbly mixture which would indicate that the head gasket is damaged (basically oil and water is mixing).
  • Test drive the vehicle and make sure the car shifts correctly as well as “feels” right when you drive it.
  • Inspect for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for any evidence of fading.
  • If buying a used car it’s always a good idea to get the vehicle history from a service such as CARFAX or AutoCheck.  It may indicate any issues such as previous accidents, flood damage, title issues, inconsistent odometer readings, etc.

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