Before You Buy

How To Read A Vehicle History Report

Old cars don’t die, they just get resold. Before buying your next used car you need to know as much about it as you can. Even without anyone trying to deceive you, the vehicle may have problems you can’t see from a simple visual inspection or even a short test drive.

A vehicle history report prepared by a third party is one way to know what you’re getting. Combining information from provincial DMVs as well as police reports and other sources, a vehicle history report can give you a comprehensive overview of where the car’s been.

CarFax Canada vehicle history reports provide car buyers quick access to the history of any used vehicle by leveraging Experian’s National Vehicle Database of over half a billion vehicles to reveal possible undisclosed or unknown problems, such as salvage and flood damage history that can affect a vehicle’s safety and resale value.

How To Inspect Used Vehicles

For starters, walk around the vehicle looking closely to ensure spacing between body panels is the same and that the paint matches evenly. These are tell-tale signs of an accident. Next, open all the doors, hood, and trunk looking for paint lines, replaced parts, or overspray from painting. These are also signs of an accident.

While in the driver’s seat, listen for any rough starting, rough idling, vibrations, other unusual noises or run-on after the engine is turned off. Anything out of the ordinary should be documented. Once a list of symptoms is compiled, give it to your trusted mechanic.

When the car is running, move the gear shifter from park to drive, neutral, and reverse listening for any abnormal noises. If possible it is always best to bring someone with you who can listen from outside the car while you are testing it inside.

Slowly move the car and apply the brakes, listen for noise. You can also visually inspect the brakes and rotors to see if repairs may be needed. Inspect the tires to ensure tread depth and no visible signs of wear and tear or dry rot.

Lastly, drive the car at slow and fast speeds, ensuring you make turns to the left and right as you listen for abnormal noises. If the person showing you the car turns the radio on to show you that, turn it off and check that separately when you are not testing the reliability of the vehicle.

Once you’ve assessed the pros and cons of the vehicle and see if it’s worth investing your time and effort into. If repair costs outweigh the bargain price being offered, don’t invest.

What Metrage Is Considered Ok For A Used Car?

Assuming the vehicle has been serviced well at the required intervals, a car can usually run well into the 100’s of thousands of kilometers. The more kms on the vehicle, the less it will be worth, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad car.

Typically a good rule of thumb is 20,000-25,000 kms per year driven is normal. Anything under 20,000 per year usually adds to the value of the vehicle and over 30,000 detracts. If you’re buying a high mileage car make sure you get the car inspected by a mechanic or it comes with a warranty.

Lastly, don’t fall for the myth that they are all “highway” miles, while city driving is harder than highway driving on a car, you have no way of knowing how the previous owner drove that car on the highway.

How Old Is Too Old?

If you buy a used vehicle, be cautious of the fact that certain gears and mechanisms may not run like new. This may cause added expenses down the road; but isn’t it better to know what to expect now rather than being caught off-guard later? You can refurbish the insides, you can repaint the outsides; but know that you’re still dealing with “used goods.”

No matter what the bargain price now, you’ll inevitably have to fork over more money in the future on repairs. Most used car shoppers look for vehicles between three and five years old, because they’ll have a vehicle with only minor wear-and-tear. Also, the price has been significantly reduced, enough so that they’d consider buying a used version of that vehicle rather than a brand new model.

Should You Buy A Used Vehicle In “As Is” Condition?

If you have inspected the car thoroughly and are sure it is up to par it is ok to buy an as-is car as long as you are getting a price that takes the risk into consideration. In other words, you pay for what you get.

It is ok to assume some moderate risk if the price is attractive, but remember what your parents told you “If it sounds to good to be true, it very well may be”.

Don’t buy on impulse. Do your homework!