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

6 Jul 2015

"Anya, open the case!"

Sometimes, the magic of a marque or the thrill of owning your dream car may be more valuable to you than just depreciation alone. 

According to the Straits Times, many of you, my fellow drivers, are snapping up eight to nine-year old cars to tide you over whilst you wait for COE prices to fall (ST, July 2 2015, Cars with COE at tail end in demand).

Now, with sizzling demand matched to a ever-dwindling supply, the prices of these cars have gotten much steeper, and with the higher prices also comes much snappier depreciation.

But higher depreciation is not the only thing to look out for in a used car.  Sometimes, the magic of a marque or the thrill of owning a dream car may be more valuable to you than just depreciation alone.  

With that in mind, check out this list of 5 reasons to consider before you walk away from that used car you were eyeing.

 #5.      Heavily-modified cars

Highly modified cars have been modified for a reason. Most of the time, it is because they are performance cars which have earned the love of enthusiasts due to the brand's sporty aspirations, and have been tweaked to bring out all that the chassis, engine and suspension is capable of delivering.

And, actually, that isn't a bad thing, because such is the love for these cars that they also are expected to have multiple owners. That's because, for one, original parts availability will always be plentiful globally, even after 20 years, and for another, you are also looking at lots of new old stock spares made by the dozens of after-market modification specialists worldwide.

Which all means you're looking at a potential classic car, or at least, one that can go the distance with your projected span of ownership.  

 #4.      Water damage

While most flood-damaged cars have already been scrapped, there’s still the everyday risk of encountering a used car which has water damage from other non-flood-related incidents. Look out for:

Rust. Rust can be found on the undercarriage, or on the seat rails. To check the latter, pull the seats back and check for rail rust.

Condensation inside the dashboard, headlights or light clusters can also be an indicator of previous water damage – or at the very least indicate water seal failure.

Lastly be wary of cars with strong car perfume, as that could be meant to cover up the smell of mildew, mold or mustiness emanating from the air conditioning system or interior lining – all signs of water damage.

That's all good news, actually. If you see any of these signs, you might be be looking at an opportunity to negotiate for thousands of dollars lower than listed price.

The truth is, if you are buying a car just to tide over the high COE period, this car needs only last for a few years; big problems related to water damage would have resulted in the car being scrapped long before you saw it. So you can potentially get a car from the marque you dreamt about, without having to pay luxury prices, provided your eyes are sharp enough.

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