Save money on your used car check dont kick the tires

Save Money on Your Used Car – Check, Don’t Kick, the Tires

When buying a used car, everyone worries about buying a car with problems. In a perfect world, any car we want to buy we would take to a mechanic for a through inspection. The world isn’t perfect, of course, but there are some simple checks, like looking carefully at the tires, to see if a car is a creampuff or a lemon.

Chances are, the tires are not brand new. New tires do not show the sort of telltale wear that can tip you off to a problem. Fortunately, most people do not buy new tires just before selling their car, so you’ll have a good forensic check not on not just the car’s condition, but how the owner took care of the car.

Look at the tires and see if there are cups in the tread. A flashlight can help – shine the light from the sidewall straight across the tire. Cupping will look like someone scooped tread out of the tire, like very shallow smoothed edged craters. These cups, if they are there at all, will be all around the circumference of the tire and will be about as wide as the tire and roughly half as tall. If you see this on any of the tires, you have a car with worn suspension parts, like struts or shocks. It at least shows that the tires are out of balance. Don’t buy this car unless you can have a mechanic look at it.

Uneven wear on the inside or outside of the tires, especially the front tires, indicates an alignment issue. This is less serious but will have to be addressed when you get new tires. Uneven wear in the center of the tire, or on the edges indicates over-inflation or under-inflation respectively. I consider under-inflation a sign of neglect and it makes me suspicious of the maintenance the car has been under.

Even tread wear is a very good sign. That means that the car is in good alignment, and indicates that the owner has done a good job of taking care of the car. Suspension and tires are very easy to neglect, so an owner who pays attention to these things is indicating that he or she took good care of the other stuff like changing the oil and keeping the radiator flushed and filled. In my experience, buying a car with a good reputation from an owner who is attentive to maintenance is a great way to get a great car, and you can always look at the tires.

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