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Full Visual Inspection Guide when Checking Out Cars in Dealerships

by | Dec 11, 2020 | Guide | 0 comments

Buying a car can be quite a stressful experience. It doesn’t matter if you are getting a brand new one or a second-hand unit. You will always want to make sure you’re doing it right which is why it is pretty much common for buyers to get a bit stressed out when shopping around for a vehicle or looking for different dealers.


As a buyer, you want to get the most value for your money. A car is an expensive purchase, after all. More than the make and the model, what you’d be most concerned with is whether the vehicle you’re buying is in good order. The last thing you want is to drive one away from the dealership only to find it broken down not long after.


Cars come in all kinds of makes and models and this can also have a considerable effect on their overall value.


So what are the things you should look for when buying a car? To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a simple guide. Read on and know exactly what to look out for when doing a visual inspection when visiting a car dealership.


What exactly do you want?

To start, decide whether you’d prefer to buy a brand new vehicle or one that has been pre-owned.


In the UK, cars that are sold in dealerships will have gone through an HPI check. This means that the full history details of any pre-owned vehicle should be transparent so interested buyers will know exactly what they’re in for. This ensures that there won’t be unnecessary surprises later once they have decided to buy the car.


Find out the car mileage

Pay attention to the car interior and find out what the actual mileage is.


Make sure to note any potential inconsistencies. For instance, do the appearance, age and mileage of the vehicle correspond to the information that is being shown to you?


Look for signs that the screws have been tapered on the dash as there may be people that will go through such length as change the actual mileage of their vehicle just to get away with a better selling price. Thankfully, the advancement in the electronics involved with newer cars has made it harder to tamper with the mileage so if you’re getting a newer car, then this may not be something you will have to be too concerned with.


Go online to check the car’s history and MOT too. This will give you a good grasp of the history of the vehicle. This also helps you check that everything including the condition and mileage of the vehicle is indeed in keeping.


Repair damage inspection

Found a shiny car that seems to have caught your eye? It always warrants a closer, second look.


Check if the car’s finish is smooth all throughout. Be on the lookout if there seem to be colour mismatches on the car’s body as this can be an indication that the vehicle has been damaged before and has gone through some serious repairs.


See if there are signs of paint flecks, especially on the vehicle handles, plastic mouldings and the window seals. Don’t hesitate to check under the car’s carpets to see if there are any deviations in the colours.


Don’t forget to open the car’s boot as well. This is a very good spot to look for welding that may have been done previously, possibly after a repair.


Doing a complete all-around check or a thorough inspection on the car you’re interested in is essential. In fact, you are expected to do a full visual check and testing as a buyer. If you’re indeed interested in the car and are willing to pay for its price, it makes sense that you will first know what it is exactly you’re getting and that it is indeed worth its price.


Is it safe?

When buying a car, it’s necessary and important that you first check that it’s in the best possible working condition before paying any money. It doesn’t matter how old the car is, you just need to know that it is still working fine through a series of testings and inspections before you buy it.


Check the condition of the tyres

See if there is still good tread present. You will want the tread to be no less than 3mm and this should cover no less than 75% of each tyre. If you’re looking at a rather worn out tyre, this would mean that you will have to get it replaced real soon, that is an additional expense you need to cover and you may not want to have to prepare for something like that so soon after you have purchased the vehicle.


Check if the boot holds a spare wheel and see too that it is still in a sound state. Don’t forget to check the jacks and the rest of the other vehicle tools and equipment that should go with it so you know you won’t have issues later on when needing to get some car repairs done.


Pay attention to the seatbelts

A very crucial safety feature for every car, it matters that you check ahead of time that it is working fine.


Make sure to test each seatbelt to check that it is still operating perfectly. See if there is fraying on the belt. While this may be easy to ignore due to how minor this detail may seem to be, it can actually have a considerable impact on their overall efficiency and safety. You wouldn’t want to find out that they are defective when you’ve already been involved in a collision.


Evaluate the state of the airbags

See if the car has airbags that are still attached to the vehicle. This is, after all, a crucial safety feature of driving the car.


When you turn the car’s ignition on, you should see the airbag light come on. It should then go out soon after. Also, don’t forget to ask for the handbook so you get to test out if they are indeed in their best working capacity and security.


Check the windscreen and the lights

Make sure to check the lights to see if everything is in working condition. Do the same for the washers and the wipers. It should be easy enough to check this since it can be done just by a turn of the key.


Do a test drive

There are a number of significant features of a car that you can only ever fully check when you have it taken out for a spin. This is the best chance for you to listen to how the engine sounds. Use this opportunity too as an added security and to see if the dashboard lights are functioning just fine. You can even check how well the vehicle’s exhaust is able to cope with the emissions.


Don’t forget to check how the brakes and the clinch feel too and find out how well the car moves when sped up. Also, there are so many things you can tell about how well or not a vehicle’s condition is just by the way it sounds, so see to it that you will listen for potential issues you may have to deal with later.


Check gizmos and locks

Don’t forget to pay attention to the locks. Make sure they’re still perfectly functioning. Make sure to pay close attention to the vehicle’s central locking as well as its remote key for security.


Ensure that the vehicle locks do not show any signs that it had been damaged before. See signs of forced entry too.


The air conditioning, heating, cd player and radio also need to get checked. Make sure everything is working well, otherwise talk to a technician. The best way to do this is by pressing all the buttons to see if everything is working the way they are supposed to.


Check if it is cover under warranty

Before completing any car purchase, it is necessary to check the warranty and what it involves.


Find out exactly what is the length of the warranty coverage. Know the details of the coverage it offers. See if you are covered for mechanical faults, accidents and other details. Also, find out if the dealership even offers a warranty in the first place. People often assume that cars come with a warranty when there are dealerships that might not even offer them.


It is always easier to tell whether a dealership is reliable or not based on whether or not they will offer any warranty for their pre-owned cars. This is because they are not really required by law to offer one. So, whether or not they offer a warranty for their used cars is one way of separating the chaff from the wheat.  


Now that you have finally decided on a car and you are quite sure that it sounds and works as good as it looks after a full vehicle inspection, you’re all set to take the steps in finalising the purchase.


So, if you used to get intimidated at the idea of buying a new car, the steps we have detailed above should make things easier for you. Just follow them and you can be sure that the vehicle you will end up with will be a well worthy purchase. Book a test drive today and take the time to check out what’s inside the bonnet. Finding the right vehicle and dealer isn’t as hard as you think!