How to Buy a Used Car

The English version is from the shop, The Chinese version is obtained long ago from a forgetten source, English and Chinese version are not each other's translation.
  • If I need to buy a used car for my daughter, I will only buy Honda or Toyota. I will avoid European cars: parts are not affordable. I will avoid luxury brands like acura, lexus. I will avoid American cars because too easy to break down. I will avoid used Korean cars, Korean cars should be bought new. I usually only choose from civic, accord, camry, carolla, CRV. Milage is the main indicator of the age of a vehicle.
  • Check the color of body paint to see whether dull or different than the rest. If car didn't have body work before, paint looks shiny and uniform throughout. Knock on different parts of the car, if the part has been patched/repaired before, it sounds hollow and different.
  • Follow all the lines on the car to see whether they are shifted. Gaps between lines should be the same all the way thru.
  • Look for manufacture stickers on Hood, trunk, doors, if missing, that part has been changed.
  • Step on accelerator to see whether engine sounds smooth, if throttles--bad, if smoke comes out of rear---bad, if car shakes---maybe bad, can be out of balance/alignment. Drive car to interstate and see whether the car vibrate at higher speed.
  • Check the # of cylinders that engine has, <=1.6 L is good for millage. Camary/wagon/mini-van/suv consumes more gas. German cars may have high maintenance cost.
  • Go underneath the car to see whether the frame is straight, how rusted it is. Any dents and damages on the bottom?
  • Open the hood, look for leaks. Check Transmission fluid, color-pinkish, smell it--and it doesn't have burning smell. Engine oil should be clean and brown, no burning smell. If oil become black after 3000 miles-engine is worn.
  • Ask when is the last time that CV joint has been changed (any front wheel drive cars wear out cv joints and need to be maintained at regular intervals), when is the last time that Timing Belt has been changed.
  • Test drive the car, make sharp and strong turns to either right or left to see whether there are glitches(clicks)---CV joint problem. Good turns should be smooth and make no noise regardless how fast you turn.
  • Check A/C, should be ice code immediately. Check vent to see air coming out nicely.
  • In NC, seller has to sign title in front of a notary. It is best that both seller and buyer sign in front of notary.
  • Look at the last receipt of oil change, if the engine burns oil, it will be noted on the receipt that oil is low. For cars over 100k miles, burning a little oil is fine, best is to burn no oil.
  • To check Leaks, need to put a clean card board underneath the car for a few hours to check it.
  • A wracked car will never work the same, but it is cheaper though.
  • When looking at advertisements, compare car prices for the same model/age/millage/features, if the price is significantly different, you should question the lower priced car. Even a car is priced a little higher than blue book/NADA, should consider it if maintained well.
  • Buying car with Cash when buying it from private owner (when sell it, only accept cash). Offer significantly low cash amount and gradually goes up. If the listing price is 2000, offer 1500(1500 is likely the minimum price on NADA), then go up little by little. Waving cash in front of the owner.
  • When buy anything, express a detached/can live without it attitude, so you can cut down price.
Used Car Buying Tips in Chinese