Deal or no deal? 5 Used-Car Issues to Consider

Deal or no deal? 5 Used-Car Issues to Consider

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
06 Jul 2015
Structural damage isn’t a good enough reason to walk away from a used car. Used cars are used; accidents come with that territory.

#3.      Structural damage

Structural damage occurs when the vehicle was involved in an accident and needs welding or straightening of its chassis. The result is a car that isn’t quite 100% true anymore.

One telltale sign of such repairs is inside the engine bay, under the A, B or C pillars, or over undercarriage rails. This happens when the car gets resprayed after a structural repair, and the workshop has not bothered to mask off parts that do not need spraying.

overspray paint marks

Another sign that your used car candidate has been in a serious accident is the existence of . These indicate that the car has been on a frame machine to straighten it up after a crash or repair.

clamp marks on the frame rails

Sometimes may also have been applied to a car to make it seem more palatable to buyers.

fresh paint

What could be lurking underneath the new paint?

The answer may be as simple as a well-intentioned mid-life makeover or literally, a cover-up to make you think the car has never been in an accident. This could be worth thousands of dollars in your final negotiations.

Because frankly, structural damage isn’t a good enough reason to walk away from a used car. Used cars are used; accidents come with that territory.

However, if you are able to spot these markers, you'll be in a much better position to bargain with your used-car salesperson.

#2.      Odometer mischief

Most cars in Singapore go through an average of 20,000 kilometres per year. So if you are eyeing an 8-year old car with only 100,000 km on the clock, something may not be quite right.

Conduct some due diligence. Ask if the car has ever been sent for service with the authorized dealer, and then call them to ask when the car was last serviced. The authorized dealer will have the service records of this car, and the dates can help you gauge the the previous owner's usage patterns.

It is possible to estimate the rate of use of various engine parts from their level of wear, and if you are right, that could be worth thousands of dollars in negotiations.

#1.      Fail-prone auto gearboxes

Some cars have a reputation for chronic gearbox failure, and many owners sell them once their warrantees are over.

If for some reason you think the car is well worth the risk of any gearbox failure, you might like to find out what a replacement sluicebox – overhauled or new – would cost to replace. Then add that into the sum total to get a true picture of its real depreciation value.

These tend to also be popular cars, and so you might be surprised to find that even with that extra cost, the car is still worth buying.

Get professional opinions

Don’t want to deal with all of the above? Any reputable used-car dealership will be cool with you taking the car out for a test drive to see if there are any problems with the vehicle. Along the way, ask to stop at a vehicle inspection centre like Vicom to have your vehicle professionally evaluated.

A typical evaluation report, which might take a day or two, will provide detailed information that's not visible to the naked eye, like history of accidents, wear and tear items slated for replacement, and overall assessment of road-worthiness, which includes a final grade of the car.

Now, you may balk at the idea of spending a few hundred dollars for this report, but remember, you’re putting down tens of thousands of dollars to buy a used car - this is small change by comparison.


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