Ten Tips for Finding the Safest Used Cars
When you want a new-to-you car, you deserve one that is safe. At Earnhardt Auto Centers, our inspection system looks at each car’s safety devices and makes sure they are in working order. You can bring your own checklist on your next Phoenix used car shopping trip.
If you are shopping used cars online from private sellers or going to small dealerships without service departments, you need to pay attention to every detail. This is especially true if there isn’t a CarFax report. That’s why we make sure to offer a CarFax report for the used cars we sell.
H2 Used Car Safety Checklist
- Has it been in a flood? Check the carpeting.
What if the car has been flooded. It is possible that you can find evidence by looking at the carpeting. Is it nice up front and different in back? Does it have darkened edges? Can you lift and look under it? If you see clues that the car has been under water at all, walk away. Our goal is to never sell a vehicle that has been caught in a flood.
- Has it been in a wreck? Inspect the bodywork.
Are all of the panels the same color? Are all of the trim pieces the same on both sides, front and rear of the car. If not, you should ask why. Many small body shops don’t report the work. They just fix up the damaged car and forget it. You probably don’t want to buy a car that has been in an accident without having a service department verify that it is structurally sound. Our service department won’t let us sell a car that has broken suspension parts from an accident.
- Is it well-maintained? Inspect the tires
Sometimes the tires tell the story of the car. If they are old and worn, that should be figured in the price of the vehicle. After all, your safety depends on good tires, and you’ll spend money to get better ones. Furthermore, tread wear can tell you if the wheels are out alignment, the steering is bad, or there’s a suspension problem. You look at the wheels to see if wear is even or erratic. If it is erratic, you probably need to move on or you’ll end up with an unsafe car.
- Do the electric systems work? Check the windows and windshield wipers.
While it seems like a given, some older car windows stop working. This is a safety hazard. You want to be sure every window can be rolled down. If any windows have stopped working, that’s a red flag. You can ask the seller to have it fixed, but do you want to buy it from someone who either didn’t know or didn’t care that the window was stuck? At Earnhardt, every one of our vehicles goes through a multi-point inspection to make sure that the windows, windshield wipers and other electric features are working properly.
- Does it have basic safety equipment? Check the seatbelts and the dash lights.
A broken seatbelt can be a costly repair. It is worth your time to check every one before agreeing to a sale. If you are looking at a car built before 2012, you should ask if the vehicle has electronic stability control. The dash lights should light up with ESC as the car comes on. However, if the light stays on, the system may be on the blink.
- Does it have advanced safety equipment? Ask for a demonstration.
Furthermore, there are many crash avoidance systems on newer cars. You should expect to find some of these on the vehicle that you are looking at. If you ask the staff at Earnhardt Auto Centers, they can point you to good used vehicles that have rearview cameras, blind spot monitors, forward collision warnings and more.
- When was the last time the brakes were inspected? Check the feel when you are test driving.
At Earnhardt Auto Centers, you can bet we have inspected the brakes for you. However, individual sellers aren’t obligated to do this, and rarely will they know the condition of the brakes. A whining sign when you touch the brake is a sign that the brake pads need replacing. If you have to really push the brake to get the car to stop, there’s a brake issue. Do you want to risk your safety? Do you want to pay for brake repair and finance payments?
- How many stars does it have? Check Ratings
If you want to know if the car was considered safe as a new vehicle, you can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There’s good information there on how well the vehicle can perform in a crash scenario.
- Has it been subject to recall? Check online.
Safety systems are the number one reason for recalls. If the vehicle hasn’t been taken for free repair under a recall, you should ask yourself if the owner took real responsibility for the car. You may want to move onto another choice.
- Can I see other choices? Compare vehicles.
Never take the first vehicle you are offered. You need to look at several before you can know if you are getting one that is safe. Shop where you can compare.
Now that you know more, check out the choices at Earnhardt Auto Centers. Each one has been inspected to make sure it is safe for you.