Top 10 Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Car

Posted by on July 28, 2019 @05:35:44 EDT


Buying a used car in Toronto is a lot of fun, but it’s a purchase that incurs some degree of risk owing to the fact that the machines themselves are weathered. It’s not always straightforward to assess this risk yourself (especially if you’re not an experienced mechanic, as most of us aren’t) so we’ve decided to come up with a list of 10 warning signs that may indicate not everything is quite as right as it should be with the used automobile you’re considering purchasing.

Bear in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and if anything it’s probably best used as a means to conducting your own research into the vehicle in question. If in doubt, never be afraid to step away from the lot (and the used car salesman you’re dealing with in Toronto) in order to either consult the internet, or maybe just think a little harder about whether everything is as it seems.

But that’s enough preamble: let’s get into the list. Here are 10 things to look out for when you’re buying a used car in Toronto.

1. Bad Interiors

A common trick that salesmen use when they’re trying to shift a sub-par used car in Toronto onto an unsuspecting buyer is to buff up the outside so it looks incredibly luxurious. While this is well-known, it still works very well, and so you should be doubly careful to prevent yourself from falling into this trap.

The reason the exterior is made to look so beautiful is so that the interior of the car won’t be examined so carefully. If you encounter a used car salesman in Toronto trying to oversell the outside of the car, be sure to check inside assiduously. While rips and cracks are a pain to deal with, stains and other such marks may be a sign of flooding, which is a much bigger deal and could indicate more serious problems with the car’s inner workings. If in doubt, ask them to show you the interior themselves.

2. Fiddling Around With The Odometer

Mileage is one of the single most important thing potential automobile owners consider when they’re weighing up a used car in Toronto. Unfortunately, the people trying to sell the car are just as aware of this, and there can often be a great deal of funny business going on with the odometer.

While the average mileage of cars is about ten thousand miles (obviously this is a ball-park figure and not representative of anything more than a general impression), odometers themselves can be clocked back to display fewer miles than they’ve actually driven. If there are serious signs of wear and tear, such as chips all across the front of the car made by pebbles or worn out seat belts, there’s a very slim chance the vehicle has only driven ten thousand miles, regardless of what the meter reads. If something’s not adding up, tread extra carefully—your bank account, as well as your peace of mind, will thank you.

3. Make Sure You Do Your Research

Used car salesmen in Toronto and elsewhere are famous for being a little unscrupulous, just as they’re famous for being brilliant negotiators. If you don’t come prepared with figures you’ve researched beforehand, you run the risk of being taken advantage of. Remember: no matter how friendly they appear, they’re trying to sell you something. Your feelings are just another way for them to drive up the price.

If the salesman is being particularly pushy (which is a high threshold indeed for used car salesmen to meet in Toronto) to the extent that your suspicions are being aroused, present them with the base-line price for the model in question you looked up and printed out beforehand. This should bring the negotiation back down to a hard figure, whereas if you don’t do this you run the risk of letting things run away before you’re even aware something is going on.

4. Poor Suspension

An old car’s fender.

Everybody knows to watch out for that tell-tale rattle that cars get when they’re coming near to the end of the line. It can be a result of a number of different faults, and without knowing the specific situation, it can be very difficult to identify the cause of the sound if you’re not an expert mechanic.

The good news is that the suspension of the car, which is one major cause of that famous rattling noise, is easily checked. Before you put pen to paper in any sense at all, press down on each of the four corners of the car. What you’re looking for is whether it bounces smoothly once or twice—that’s a sign of good suspension. If it bounces too many times, or if it’s excessively jerky, that’s indicative of an interior flaw that isn’t going to go away.

5. Blinking Lights

We’re not talking about headlights: those are easily fixed and shouldn’t present any major problem. What’s much more of a concern is whether, throughout the course of the test drive you’ve hopefully been allowed to take in your prospective purchase, there are blinking engine lights indicating something going wrong in the inside.

Your suspicions should be doubly aroused if the salesman tells you not to worry about it. Granted, that’s all well and good for him to say, but a blinking light is proof there’s something going wrong with the engine. If in any doubt, enlist the help of a local mechanic to scan the car and look up the resultant error code. We can’t stress this enough—don’t brush it under the rug, or it’ll come back to bite you later on.

6. Body Parts That Don’t Quite Line Up

An old car.

It’s a given that a used car in Toronto isn’t going to look pristine. That’s one of the major reasons you’re probably looking for a used car in the first place. But if there’s something that looks just a little bit ‘not quite right,’ (and especially if the salesman tells you not to worry about it), that’s definite cause for suspicion, if not quite alarm.

Body parts that don’t line up properly could be indicative of a major accident which has been hurriedly patched up, which in turn is almost guaranteed to throw up irritating and expensive issues further down the line. While we’re big fans of the used car salesmen in Toronto, it’s their job to sell you the car, no matter what. Once you’ve bought it, it’s your responsibility. That’s why it’s so important to do proper due diligence whenever you’re considering this kind of purchase.

7. Goldilocks Financing Plans

If you’ve got a credit score that’s less than ideal and you’re presented with a loan repayment scheme that miraculously leaves you with way more money left over per month than you’d calculated in your pre-purchase budgeting process, be very careful.

You shouldn’t get a good deal if you have a bad credit score. That sounds harsh, but it’s true—credit scores indicate how likely you are to pay back the money, and if you have a bad one, that means you’re statistically more of a risky proposition than somebody with a good one. This will lead to a more costly deal, because you need to pay extra in order to offset the risk the lender is taking on. If the plan offered to you looks too good to be true, it probably is, and you need to watch out for towering APR hidden in the fine print that will bring you crashing back to reality a month after you sign the paperwork.

8. Suspiciously Lacking Paperwork

Every car, used or new, should come with a ream of paperwork indicating, among other things, recent road record and history of maintenance. This is standard, and any deal that’s proceeding according to the book will have no trouble measuring up to purposeful examination.

If there’s no hard paper trail you can follow to tell you about how, when, and to what degree the car got damaged (and it’s a used car in Toronto, so you can be positive that it got damaged, at least a little, at some point), this is cause for alarm. Even worse is if the salesman tells you to brush it off: are you beginning to see the pattern? Anytime a salesman tells you not to worry about something, you need to remember to dig deeper. In this case, it could save your bank account from a major hit in the future.

9. Shoddy Electronics

Electronic issues aren’t what usually spring to mind when we think about the potential problems a used car in Toronto might present to us throughout the course of our relationship with it. They should be, though, and it’s strange that so many people brush off the electronics as something that isn’t a big deal.

The issue isn’t that the car’s malfunctioning radio can’t be replaced: it most certainly can, as can the GPS system, headlights, and just about everything else that runs on current. The worry is if there’s a consistent pattern of sub-par electronic equipment running throughout the car. This could show that there’s something going wrong in the inner workings of the vehicle that is repeatedly making these systems malfunction. It could be a leak, or it could just be a faulty wiring job somewhere, but it’s worth checking out all the same.

10. Smoke Issues

If there are repeated instances of smoke billowing out from the car’s tailpipe—or even just one, in the case of blue smoke (which indicates something wrong with the engine) or billowing plumes of white smoke (which means the head gasket has blown), both of which are serious issues that will require extensive, expensive repairs—this is definite cause for pausing and having a think about whether you want to purchase the vehicle.

Issues with the engine aren’t going to just go away: see point 5 about the engine lights. It’s better to save yourself the trouble now and say no to the car than it is to go ahead and sign on the dotted line, potentially committing yourself to a costly series of repairs that will ruin all the good feelings you should definitely have about buying yourself a new (albeit used) car. After all, automobiles are fun. Paying through the nose for repairs that could have been avoided completely is most definitely not fun.


So there you have it: 10 things to look out for when buying a used car in Toronto. We hope this list has been helpful to you, and may still prove to be helpful if you’re not currently engaged in the process of making that new purchase. Above all, it’s important to look out for moments when the salesman tells you not to worry about something that is otherwise quite worrying: they might be trying to pull the wool over your eyes, and you’ll save yourself a world of hurt by trusting your gut and taking a second look at the situation.

If you’re looking for a car loan and have a bad credit score, get in touch with us here at We always listen to anybody who calls us, no matter how poor their credit score.

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