Torque Shop

My car is fast approaching 10 years old and I would like to replace it with a used car. I have seen some attractive deals on online used-car websites such as sgCarMart. What should I be looking out for when I assess a car? Look for a car which is around three years old and avoid those that have had more than one owner.

It is best to arrange a viewing out in the open during the day. Flaws can be better spotted in bright light.

Take your time and check the bodywork and look for any signs of repair or respray such as inconsistency in the gloss, mismatched colour or uneven panel gaps.

Take along a friend who is eagle-eyed. Minor nicks, especially dimples created by other motorists' careless door-swings and stone chips, are acceptable.

Focus on the mechanicals - engine, gearbox and suspension. Mileage should average no more than 20,000km a year.

It is best to send the car for a pre-sale inspection. This may cost a few hundred dollars but is worth it.

Check that the tyres are evenly worn and of a known brand. Used-car dealers often fit new but low-quality tyres as a selling point.

The acid test, of course, is the test drive. An engine with about 60,000km should idle silently, run smoothly and emit no smoke at all. Pay particular attention to gear changes, which should be smooth.

Listen for any unusual noise when accelerating briskly or when riding over bad surfaces. Observe if there are any vibrations when braking.

At the end of your drive, look for any leaks under the bonnet while the engine is still idling and listen for any odd clatter. If the "Check Engine" light comes on at any time during the drive or when idling, it is best not to buy the car.

Finally, deal with the owner directly or, at the very least, a reputable used-car dealer.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2018, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe