Buying a used car is a whole different ballgame than buying a new vehicle. When you purchase a used car with high mileage, you need to carefully inspect the vehicle in order to find out what exactly is working right on the vehicle and what is not working correctly. Then, you need to decide if the drawbacks still make the vehicle worth the price it is being sold for. If it is worth it is a personal choice based on your assessment of the risks and benefits of purchasing the specific vehicle you are looking at. These five tips will help you make that decision.
#1 Verify The Mileage
When you are already purchasing a vehicle with high mileage, you want to do what you can to ensure that the odometer has not been rolled back on the vehicle. The best way to do that is to look at the service booklet or the Carfax or CarProof service record. Look at the mileage of the vehicle listed for each maintenance interval, and see if it lines up and makes sense with the mileage you see on the odometer.
#2 Look For Rust
One of the risks that comes with purchasing a used car with high mileage is the risk of rust under the paint job. Over time, rust can ruin the body of a car.
When looking at the paint, keep an eye out for bubbles in the paint. Before rust becomes visible, it appears as bubbles in the paint. Also, keep an eye out areas where the paint looks visibly different; like it is an entirely different shade of paint. If you see that, ask if the paint has been to an auto body shop for rust removal and ask to see the records. You don't want to purchase a vehicle that has been hastily reported or has a hidden rusted-out frame.
#3 Check The Oil
Next, when purchasing an older used vehicle, you should always check the oil. If the oil levels are extremely low, this tells you that the car has not been getting the oil that it needs. If the oil is clunky and thick or has debris in it, this also indicated that the oil has not been changed in a long time and that the engine may be compromised due to delayed oil changes. If the oil is full and clear, that is a good sign that this maintenance task has been attended to.
#4 Look At The Color Of The Exhaust
Have someone else turn on the vehicle and check the color of the exhaust. Ideally, the exhaust should be clear. If the exhaust gas is blue, the vehicle most likely has an engine problem. If the exhaust gas is black, there is most likely a fuel system issue with the car. If the smoke is white, that could indicate that anti-freeze is being burned due to a issue with the head gasket.
Be sure to check all the areas listed above to determine in a used high mileage vehicle is the right one for you. Ideally, you should take any high mileage used vehicle you are interested in purchasing to our mechanic for an inspection before signing the purchasing agreement. Contact a Toyota dealer in your area to schedule a routine maintenance inspection.