One of the first things Tom did when he was shopping for a used car was to walk around the vehicle at the dealership lot, kick the tires, tap on the headlights, shake the vehicle, and then get in for a test drive. The salesperson was silently laughing at him because it was obvious Tom didn’t have the first clue about what to truly look at when shopping around for a used vehicle.
If you’re in the market for a used BMW, not only are you looking at one of the finest automobiles in the world, you are also likely determined to get the best possible deal you can. If you want to properly inspect the used vehicle before you buy it, follow these tips.
1. Ask for a vehicle history report.
Thanks to technology, almost every single vehicle on the road today has a history report. This will include any accidents that it may have been involved in, as long as they were reported. It will also include major repairs, engine work, or other significant work that was done on it.
If the dealer or person selling the BMW is not willing to provide the VIN number or vehicle history report, it’s time to walk away.
2. Check under the hood.
If you don’t know what you’re looking at, then there really is no point to this. However, you should make yourself at least somewhat familiar with the basic components of an engine compartment under the hood. What you want to look for are any potential signs of oil leaking from the head gasket or somewhere else within the engine itself. You also want to check for transmission fluid leaks in the same manner. Transmission fluid has a reddish color to it and the oil will be somewhat clear to possibly dark.
Check the transmission fluid levels with the dipstick and the oil level.
You also want to check the serpentine belt and any other belts for wear and tear. Check radiator hoses for soft spots that could lead to leaks and breaks in the future. Anything you spot that may be a problem should be addressed with the salesperson and have them guarantee, in writing, that they will repair or replace those issues before delivery.
3. Get down on your hands and knees.
Look under the BMW. Check for signs of rust along the chassis. Inspect the condition of the shocks and struts. If the springs look rusted, flaking, and in a general state of disrepair, request that they be replaced before you purchase the vehicle.
4. Take it for a test drive.
Get an understanding about the various features this particular BMW has before you leave the lot. Make sure the radio is off and pay attention to the engine sound, road noise, and other sounds you may hear. If you have questions, ask the salesperson directly. If he or she doesn’t or can’t answer, then make sure you bring an experienced technician along with you for your final review of the vehicle to make sure it’s worth purchasing, and worth the money.
5. Get an Independent Opinion.
The best thing you can do is to bring it in to one of our service locations and have an experienced BMW specialist carry out a full inspection to tell you what the condition the car is in. You’ll be glad you did and you could end up saving lots of money and unexpected repairs.