24 Practical Dealers Secrets to Spotting a Good Used Car

  • 1 - Shift lever should not vibrate (may mean a loose linkage - or transmission is on the way out)
  • 2 - Watch for ripples in the paint job (or flecks of paint on the weather stripping) ripples of body - repair under finish - car has probably had to be repainted because of hard usage, bad care or accident - pass it up. If steering wheel has been repainted the speedometer may have incorrect mileage
  • 3 - More than two inches of free play in the steering wheel is a sign that steering gear is worn
  • 4 - Rust on the door and main panels - spells repairs
  • 5 - If the oil pressure dives or fluctuates as water temperature hits normal, look for a bad oil pump or rings
  • 6 - Check tire for regrooving by placing a screwdriver into the grooves to see if the depth is ok
  • 7 - Watch for telltale oil drop (may be main bearing - otherwise a bad pan gasket)
  • 8 - Check exhaust pipe - if carbon deposits are oily, may mean engine is an oil pumper
  • 9 - Check tire pressure (may be pumped higher for a snappy demonstration ride - should be the correct pressure for that particular car)
  • 10 - Gleaming hub caps may hide grease or fluid from leaking seal or wheel cylinder
  • 11 - Watch for wheels out of balance - this will show up as uneven tire wear and/or bald spots
  • 12 - Pock-marked chrome is normal - slightly duller clean finish may be 'reconditioned'
  • 13 - Leaky carburetor gaskets allow fuel to wash down and leave 'varnish' deposits on the float bowl - shows a lack of basic maintenance
  • 14 - Owner carelessness shows up in 'boiled-over' battery covered with white acid deposits - probable result of faulty voltage regulator
  • 15 - Spongy hoses need replacing - wetness on supporting cross member, white lime or signs of sealing compound on car mean a bad radiator
  • 16 - Properly taken care of, oil-bath air cleaner does an important job. Neglected it lets dirt into the carburetor, makes for worn, dirty idler valves
  • 17 - Look under the distributor cap - good care will have left grease in cup and wick, no burning of contact points or cracks in tower terminals
  • 18 - Wind-sprayed oil leak mixed with dirt coats engine, holds moisture, shorts out wiring and makes for engine which runs as bad as it looks
  • 19 - Yank the plugs - they are as good a barometer of an engine's running condition as anything you'll find. Top plugs covered with reddish-brown deposits points to good rings, good combustion. Bottom plug of an oil burner will be covered with black, greasy carbon and oil
  • 20 - Watch for rain gutter on top of car - if it is bent or crooked - this car has been rolled over (difficult to straighten)
  • 21 - Get several feet away from the car - and see if it leans to one side from the front - and also view from the rear, if it lists to one side - pass it up
  • 22 - First thing to do is pass any car with ratty upholstering - if the owner didn't take care of the upholstering - he did not take care of the entire car
  • 23 - Check springs and shocks by a bit of jumping up and down on the bumpers - does it return to its original level when you've jujmped off, if so - fine - if it continues to bounce after you've quit - its a sure sign the shocks are ailing
  • 24 - Turn the steering wheel all the way to each side while the car is parked to see if you can 'feel' any roughness

Best Time to Trade in your Car

One large auto dealship recommends their clients trade six-cylinder cars of the Ford-Chevrolet-Plymouth class at two and a half to three years. Eight cylinder cars should be traded in after three years.

Millions of miles of logged auto-fleet experience show that this is the compromise point between the coming increase in the cost of running expenses and repair bills, and the decrease in the average yearly depreciation cost.

The used car market has shown that the cars most in demand are those two to three years old. Therefore you get the maximum trade-in value.

Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick are also assigned a three-year compromise trading point.

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