20 recommendations segregated in 3 sections. Pre-buying tips, buying tips and post-buying tips:
1- Brand/make Selection
Consider easy availability of spare parts, good mechanics and resale value. If you are passionate about a specific brands and willing to bypass these aspects, go ahead. Life is all about adventures.
2- Car Features
Check what features the car is offering. Back sensor, back camera, panoramic view, GPS, automatic seat adjustment are some good add-ons to consider. If available, test these features whether properly functioning.
3- Visual damages and scratches
If you see visual damages but still interested in car, negotiate the price.
4- Fuel economy
I suggest visiting kbb.com and see full reviews of the car. KBB is a great website providing detailed analysis of almost all common brands.
5- Car Comparison Tool
If you have short-listed more than one car brand, consider comparing different features such as size, torque and fuel economy. Visit this link: Car Comparison Tool – Compare Cars Side-by-Side
6- Maintenance and Service History
If you are buying high-end car such as Mercedes, BMW etc. ask for service history.
7- Too Old Cars
Do not buy too-old cars. Such cars are cheap in price but heavy on pocket in the long run. Firstly due to poor fuel economy (being old) and secondly due to wear-and-tear and getting sick now and then.
8- Tires Age and Health Check
Check the year of tire manufacturing. Check this awesome tire codes guide. Check visual wear and tear of tires. In case of old tires, negotiate the prices with seller.
9- Onboard Diagnostic Tool (OBD) Report
Ask if the seller has any OBD tool to produce the car report. Onboard Diagnostic Tools are easy to use these days. Its a small piece of tool which you plug in to the car and connect it to your android or iphone via blue tooth and produce car report.
10- Car Check using VIN number
Just like your mobile phone, each vehicle in the world has a unique identification number called VIN. In several countries, you can get the history of any car by giving its VIN number. This is an online service and does not require a lot of money and effort. if you stand outside the car on the driver side and see the corner of dashboard (towards side mirror), you will be able to see the VIN. VIN basics can be read here.
11- Check Market Price
Consider exploring local online portals and see what is the current average price for the car. Please note that most of the car selling advertisements have higher demands whereas actual car is usually sold at 5-10% less than the demand.
12- Buying Used Import Cars
This is risky option as most of the used imported cars are accidental which had been cancelled by the transport authority of that country. Such cars are purchase by businessmen from the auctions websites and imported to your country where these cars are repaired and sold. If you really consider such car, check the history via VIN number. Most easier way is to type the VIN number in Google and hit enter. You will see your car’s pictures.
13- Mechanical, Electrical and Engine Testing
Several countries offer formal car testing services where you get detailed report of the car via visual inspection by certified car technician. If you are in a country where you cannot check car history online or cannot take formal car testing services, consider asking your current car mechanic to inspect the car thoroughly.
14- Availability of Tools and Back-up Tire
Check if the right tools and a good back-up tire is available in the car.
15- Road Drive
Do not buy a car until you drive it for a couple of kilometers (at slow and high speed). Carefully listen if car is generating any sounds. Check if radio is functioning and air conditioning is functional. Check if the dashboard is showing any alarm or alerts. Take a friend with you if possible.
At the Time of Purchase
16- Quick Check just before Transfer
Make sure the car features are functional and nothing has been removed from the car (tools, extra tire, car manuals, mats, fire extinguisher)
17- Deal Finalization and Payment
Do not pay full amount in advance. Only pay in the presence of govt. official in the car transfer office. Take sign off on necessary receipts.
18- Car Oil and Filter Change
Get a car engine flushed and get new engine oil and oil filter.
19- Car Washing and Inner Cleaning
Take the car for washing (even it was washed, this is due to hygiene reasoning. Remove cushions or any other clothing which was there. You don’t want to get affected by any disease at this happy moment.
20- Short Drive and Long Drive
Initially, drive the car for a couple of weeks inside city. Do not go on long routes as you don’t want to suffer if any issue pops up while you are away from your home city.
Be aware of car dealers. Sometimes fancy and glittering statements are used in praise of car. Remember the above mentioned points and be firm in your car evaluation check list (all points above).
I hope these tips will help you finalizing and purchasing a new car. All the best !