We always take a few precautions before we purchase a vehicle. We always test drive it first, with the radio OFF, and listen to the motor while we're driving it. We test the heating and cooling systems regardless of outside weather, along with the radio, locks, window controls and windshield wipers. We get the VIN number and run a CARFAX report. Where newer model cars are concerned, we run a price check through Kelley Blue Book's website. Next, we get an estimate of coverage from our insurance company. Lastly, we take the vehicle to our mechanic and pay for a once-over, to make sure the seller is telling the truth about the condition of the vehicle. If everything checks out, then we'll buy the vehicle.
What precautions do you take before purchasing a vehicle?
It really is great that you can do all of these things these days. If I am getting a car that I plan to use on a daily basis, I get the CARFAX report, too. I check the engine and all of the other parts that pimp_caddy mentioned. For a vintage car that I plan to restore I don't worry so much. I know I am going to do lots of work on it already. But at the same time, I will haggle for the best price I can get.
What we do before we buy the car depends on what we plan to do with the car. If it's an everyday car, we take a lot more precautions than if it's going to be a total rebuild/restore. Where rebuilds are concerned, we pretty much just try to get the best price we can on it, like Cool Daddy said.
If you can have any reports run on the vehicle, like Carfax, go for it! If you buy a car from the dealership, you can look up reviews from a dealership. If you buy it from an individual, you are taking a lot of chances, but at the same time, you can probably do better when it comes to haggling on a price.
I have never bought from an individual just for fear of the unknown, hearing too many stories about others getting shammed I opted out of that real quick. I think the last car we got we found from a local dealer in town and they were a family owned company that came highly recommended when we first moved here.
CARFAX report is on the top of our list. If possible I tend to visit a car at least twice just to make sure I am not looking anything over. Most times people are okay with this esp. when the car has sat for too long and they want it gone (it also helps with the price drop).
Really, a lot does go into purchasing a car or vehicle of any sorts. The first thing that catches my eye, is obviously the exterior of the vehicle. It has to be clean and dent/scratch free. Taking a test drive is extremely important! Every car has a different feel to it, and you need to see if it's the right "feel" for you.
If I can not find the full history of a vehicle I will not buy it. I know we had to haggle when we moved to this state with a used car salesman who was unable to even give us info on the last owner, I walked away without a second glance in his direction. I like to know what I am paying for and I can never just take someones word for it.