If you're about to buy a used car, you know you have to have a mechanic check it out, and it doesn't hurt to do a little inspecting yourself. However, a lot of people concentrate on a few big items when looking at used cars, leaving the rest to the mechanic. That can become costly if the mechanic keeps finding problems you missed, and you have to keep looking for different cars and keep getting them checked out. If an item is quick to check out yourself, do so; these three in particular are ones you want to know about quickly.
Timing Belt vs. Chain
Find out if the car model you're looking at uses a timing belt or a timing chain. If it uses a belt, you may have to factor the cost of replacing the belt into your total costs for the car. Timing belts don't always give you warning before they break, so you have to find out if the belt was recently replaced and how old the existing belt is.
However, if the car has a timing chain, you're in luck. The chains don't break like the belts do. You'll still have to have the mechanic inspect around the chain, but problems there are less likely to occur or create wild-card situations like a belt could.
Yes, you should check the tread on the tires, but you should also check the age of the tires and where they have been used. Older tires on a car that wasn't driven very much may have excellent tread depth, but the age of the tires and the conditions they were used in can make the material more brittle and lead to tread separation. This is when the outer layer with the treads suddenly rips off. It's not a safe situation. You can always replace tires, of course, but you need to know if that's a cost you'll be paying soon.
Find out when the rear brakes were last replaced. Front brakes often wear out much faster than the rear brakes, and the previous owners may have replaced the front but not the back for some time. If you're buying the used car from a private party, this is a real concern. If you're buying the car from a used car dealer, though, chances are they'll be able to tell you about how much time is left on the brake pads, which will show you whether you need to add another cost item to your used car budget.
Buying your next car from a used car dealer can really help you out with matters like these. Good used car dealers will put the car through inspections and necessary maintenance and repairs before putting the car out on the lot. You should still have a third-party mechanic check out the vehicle before you buy it. But a reputable dealer like Best Buy Auto Inc will be a great help in finding that perfect used car for your needs.