5 Tips for inspecting secondhand cars on your own

【驗車必讀】自行檢查二手車實用貼士

Buying a secondhand car in Hong Kong? Aside from relying on your dealer for a vehicle examination, it’s important to take a look at it yourself first. This is especially the case if you’re buying directly from a seller. If you’re purchasing from a reputable secondhand car dealer, then there’s little risk of choosing a car with pre-existing problems. Buying directly from the owner? Sometimes, you’ll run the risk of having to deal with scammers. They might sell you a car that is falling apart, previously flooded, or even illegally modified.

Today at Kwiksure, we will delve into how car owners like you can examine a secondhand car to avoid buying terrible ones. 

1. Appearance

We strongly recommend examining the used car under the light. With the reflection, you can check for indentations and scratches. To confirm, you can also place your hand on the surface of the car, and physically feel for any dips and roughness. Usually, these should be particularly apparent near the door edges, the interior of the hood, and the steel plate on the door of the trunk. With these signs, you can make a good guess on whether this car was previously crashed into.

Of course, some sellers would cover up these scratches with spray paint. However, spray painting the entire car can be incredibly pricey. Thus, usually, they would only spray paint the parts that have serious gashes. As time passes, the paint tends to fade in color or peel off. That’s why if you examine carefully, it’s not hard to discover places with uneven colors.

2. Engine and gearbox

When checking the engine, you should first open the hood of the secondhand car to make sure the interior car parts aren’t rusting. Next, look out for any signs that the vehicle has been crashed into, illegally modified, or serious aging problems. Finally, turn on the engine. Listen to the sound of the engine. You’d be wrong if you think the quieter the engine is, the better. A good engine should be loud, clear and without any background noises. Even when it’s in idle mode, the sound of the engine should be steady.

To inspect the gear box, without starting the car and stepping on the clutch, try changing gear. The gear should be clear, and the process smooth and easy. 

3. Electronic devices

You can test a variety of electronic devices in the car. For example, the lights, visual and audio equipment, GPS, and whether the aircon is leaking, etc. Make sure they are all functioning as they should. This is because if the car has been previously submerged in water, after air drying, the dashboard will appear as if it has never been soaked. However, the interior electronic circuits and parts might have already been destroyed.

4. Avoid “flood cars”

Is the secondhand car you’re inspecting a “flood car”? Most vehicles that have been flooded with water past the bottom of the cabin will have retained an odd smell in the carpet, seats, leather products, etc. To check for other signs of water submersion, lift the carpet, or the spare tire partition in the trunk. See if there are any rusty or moldy metal parts.

5. Other car parts

Before buying, inspect whether each group of lights is functioning properly. Are the left and right headlights symmetrical? Are the colors of the lights different? If there’s an abnormality, it could mean that a collision happened at this part of the vehicle. You also need to look for cracks, and signs of repair or reinstallation in the glass. Finally, search for gaps on the side of the car door. Are there signs of the door and screws having been replaced? 

Move on to the next stage of testing after your initial inspection has gone well without detecting any problems. For information about the test drive, check out our article on what to look for when taking a test drive. Although you can drive your car to the dealer for a vehicle examination, you should first examine the car yourself. Detecting problems early will save you a lot of time and effort.

Contact Kwiksure for your insurance solutions! 

Aside from car insurance (third-party and comprehensive), Kwiksure also provides home insurance, motorcycle insurance, VHIS, and many more. Use our online quotation system to receive a free quote! Want to chat with us? You can contact our expert insurance advisors. They are happy to provide you with impartial advice and help you select the best insurance plan for your needs.