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Before You Buy: 9 Common Car Problems You Should Inspect

common car problems

When you’re buying a car, it’s important to be aware of the most common problems. By knowing what to look for, you can avoid these problems and save yourself a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

In this blog post, Canada’s Best Auto Loan lists the nine most common car problems you should look for when purchasing a used car. Keep reading for more information!

Buying a car: The risks of buying used cars

Before we get into the most common car problems, it’s important to note that buying a used car comes with risks. While you may be able to save money by buying a used car, you could also end up with a lemon or a car that has hidden problems. That’s why it’s important to do your research before buying a used car.

Check the car’s history report to see if it has any accidents or major damage. Have a mechanic inspect the car before buying it, and ensure you get a warranty or extended service contract.

By taking these precautions, and reading up on the ultimate guide to buying used cars, you can minimize the risks of buying a used car. Now, let’s take a look at the most common car problems to look for when buying:

1. Engine issues

One of the most common problems with used cars is engine issues. If the car you’re looking at has many miles on it, there’s a chance that the engine could be worn out. A good rule of thumb for mileage is to avoid cars with over 100,000 miles.

Indications of engine issues:

  • Oil leaks
  • Burning oil
  • Low oil levels
  • knocking noises
  • blue smoke from the exhaust

If you’re looking at a car with engine issues, it’s best to move on to another option. Engine repairs can be expensive, and they may not be worth the cost if the car has a lot of miles on it.

When buying used cars, it’s important to have a mechanic inspect the engine. They will be able to tell you if there are any major issues that need to be addressed.

If you do buy a car with an engine with issues, you may be able to fix it by having the engine rebuilt or replaced. This is a major repair, so keep that in mind.

2. Transmission problems

Another common issue with used cars is transmission problems like slipping, leaking, or grinding. Transmission problems can be expensive to repair, so it’s best to avoid cars with these issues.

Indications of transmission problems:

  • slipping gears
  • leaking fluid
  • grinding noises
  • Trouble shifting gears
  • Delayed engagement

To be safe, have a mechanic inspect it before buying. They will be able to tell you if the transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

You can also avoid transmission problems by checking the fluid level and color. The fluid should be pink or red, and the level should not be low.

3. Suspension and steering issues

steering problem

This is a common problem with used cars, especially if they are high mileage. The suspension system includes the shocks and struts responsible for a smooth ride. Over time, the suspension system can wear out, causing a bumpy ride.

Used cars may also have issues with the steering system. The power steering system can fail, making it difficult to turn the wheel. Worn-out suspension components can also cause steering problems.

Indications of suspension and steering issues:

  • Bumpy ride
  • Difficulty turning the wheel
  • Steering wheel shakes
  • Uneven tire wear

When buying a used car, take it for a test drive on different types of roads. This will help you identify any suspension or steering issues. Also, have a mechanic inspect the suspension and steering system before buying.

4. Electrical issues

Another common problem with used cars is electrical issues. The electrical system includes the battery, alternator, and starter. Over time, these components can wear out or fail.

Indications of electrical problems:

  • Battery dies quickly
  • Lights dim when idling
  • Starter fails
  • Alternator fails

If you’re looking at a car with electrical issues, it’s best to move on to another car. Electrical repairs can put a real dent in your budget, and they may not be worth the cost either if the car already has a lot of miles on it.

When buying used cars, have a mechanic inspect the electrical system, including the battery, alternator, and starter. They will be able to tell you if the car is worth repairing or not.

5. Brake issues

One of the most dangerous problems with used cars is brake issues. Over time, the brake pads can wear out, and the rotors can become damaged. This can cause a decrease in braking power and lengthen the distance it takes to stop the car.

Indications of brake issues:

  • The brake pedal is soft
  • Grinding noise when brakes are applied
  • The car takes longer to stop
  • Brake pedal vibrates
  • The steering wheel shakes when braking

When buying used cars, have a mechanic inspect the brakes. They will be able to tell you if the brake pads need to be replaced or if the rotors need to be resurfaced.

6. Cooling system issues

You probably don’t think about the cooling system very often, but it’s one of the most important systems in your car. The cooling system doesn’t just keep the engine cool; it also prevents the engine from overheating.

Indications of cooling system issues:

  • Engine overheats
  • Coolant leak
  • Radiator leak
  • Thermostat failure
  • The radiator cap is missing or damaged

Like most of the issues on this list, cooling system repairs can be expensive. So, it’s best to avoid used cars with these problems. A car with coolant or radiator leaks should be avoided at all costs.

When buying a used car, have a mechanic inspect the cooling system. They will be able to tell you if the car needs repairs or not.

7. Tire issues

Compared to some of the other problems on this list, tire issues are relatively minor. However, they can still be a pain and can also be dangerous. Shady dealers looking to sell lemons may put used tires on the car to make it look better. These tires can be worn out or have mismatched tread patterns, which can cause problems.

Indications of tire issues:

  • Uneven tread wear
  • Tire is bald
  • Mismatched tread patterns
  • The tires are the wrong size
  • If you’re looking at a used car with tire issues, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Or, you can ask the dealer to replace the tires before you buy the car.

When buying a used car, be sure to inspect the tires. Look for signs of uneven tread wear or mismatched tread patterns. Also, make sure the tires are the correct size for the car.

8. Exhaust system issues

The exhaust system is one of the most critical systems in your car, responsible for removing harmful fumes from the engine. Over time, the exhaust system can become corroded or damaged. This then causes dangers to both the engine and your health.

Indications of exhaust system issues:

  • Loud noise from the exhaust
  • Rusting on the underside of the car
  • The car smells like gasoline
  • Loud noise coming from the tailpipe
  • Cracks or holes in the muffler
  • Holes in the catalytic converter

We don’t recommend buying a used car with these exhaust system problems. The repairs are mostly not worth it, and the car may not pass emissions tests. Don’t take the risk; find another car.

9. Sensor issues

These days, cars are packed with sensors that help everything run smoothly. However, these sensors can fail over time. When they do, it can cause all sorts of problems.

Indications of sensor issues:

  • The check engine light is on
  • Poor fuel economy
  • The car is stalling
  • The car is hesitating when accelerating

If you’re looking at a used car with sensor issues, we recommend taking it to a mechanic for a diagnostic test. This will help you determine how extensive the repairs will be.

Final Thoughts

While some of these problems can be expensive to fix, others are relatively minor. However, all of them should be considered when buying a used car. Be sure to have a mechanic inspect the car before you buy it, and most importantly, go to a reputable dealer with the best auto sales leads to avoid being sold a lemon. With a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can find a great used car that will serve you well for years to come.

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From start to finish there is no better and more transparent way
to buy a car. Find out if you qualify in under 60 seconds