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Tips of buying and selling used cars

When buying a car, make sure to look beyond the price

Used cars are a matter of trust. For your safety, we have also added some valuable tips, so that don't get blindsided by hindsight.

Whoever believes everything some sellers say, is more apt to learn the hard way. This check list will point out what you need to know when buying a used car.

Check list when buying a used car

1. For starters, slowly walk around the vehicle and carefully pay attention to the following points:

  • Car body/ paint: Is the vehicle clean? Are waves, dents, scratches, or stone chips visible? Can you see any discolourations or mat spots? How large are the gap dimensions? Are they uniform? Does the vehicle have rust spots? (Warning! In case of rust spots, always consult an expert.)
  • Lights: Examine all the lamps. Are the front headlights and the und taillights fully functionally? How is their condition? Are any stone chips, cracks, or moisture visible?

2. Engine compartment

  • Inspect the engine compartment: Is it clean here and does it shine like new? If the engine has been washed, it may be an indication that the seller is trying to hide leaks.
  • Check the fluid levels: oil level, coolant (but, be careful if the engine is warm or even hot ), steering gear
  • Check the condition of the hoses: For the best results, wiggle all the hoses in the engine compartment once. However, pay careful attention to hot spots or hoses. Are the hoses porous or leaking? Are the clamps tight?
  • Check the timing belt: Inquire about the timing belt and ask for a certificate about who replaced it and when. This way, you can avoid any engine damages.
  • Now check whether the engine bonnet easily and properly closes.

3. Interior

  • Doors: Check whether all the doors are easily opened and closed. Does anything stick or do the doors sag when closing? Are the rubber seals complete and in good condition?
  • Seats: Is the upholstery ok? Does it smell pleasant or rather musty or musty? Do the all the safety belts work properly?
  • Test the functions: Start the engine and check the air, the windshield wipers, and if the other buttons function properly, such as the hazard lights.

4. Test drive

  • Try and divide your test drive in two stages: One at lower and one at higher speeds.
  • Driving slowly:
    • Do the gears shift easily and properly?
    • Does the car drive straight? Can you hear clicking noises when steering? Do the displays work? (Tachometer, speedometer) Do the control lamps go out?
  • Driving faster:
    • Can you feel vibrations on the steering wheel? Does the car stay in the lane? Can you hear any noises? Does the car brake evenly? Warning: do not test the brake on the motorway!
    • Air-conditioning system: Does the air-conditioning and heating system function? Is the ventilation system ok?

5. Undercarriage

  • Defects can be detected best after the test drive
  • Condition of the engine: Is any oil dripping down?
  • How does the exhaust system look? The most common defects are found here.
  • Are the brake pads ok? If the pad thickness sufficient? Are the brake discs worn or rusted? Is the brake calliper difficult to move? You recognise that on the rusted brake discs.
  • Do the tyres have sufficient profile? Do they show signs of even wear? (Indication of caster and camber angles) Is any damage visible on the side or in the profile?
  • Are the rim edges damaged?

6. Vehicle documents

  • Look through the vehicle documents: Is the documentation complete? Are the operating instructions present? Is the owner and the seller the same person?
  • Is there a maintenance booklet present? Have any entries been made? First-aid kit and breakdown triangle: Are they both present? Is there a high visibility jacket present? What condition are these things in?

The TÜV NORD expert tip:

There are numerous points that you cannot check yourself. Therefore, make sure to have the TÜV NORD Confidence Check carried out. During this check, our experts competently and independently document the condition of your car. Expertly and independently. This is an additional selling point for the seller and provides the buyer with more security. You will find more information at TÜV NORD ConfidenceCheck.

You'll find more details about our revision in our TÜV NORD CERT Guidebook ISO 9001:2015


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