With things in the tank with the economy, you may be having to look at a used car instead of a new one. One of the safest things you need to be focused on is the safety, and that is in the tires and brakes. While you may not be savvy enough about cars to inspect all of a car’s technical aspects, here are five tips to use when checking out the tires and brakes on the used car you are thinking of buying:
1. Tire checking is really very easy. First, look at the tires and make sure there is tread. If not, you need to ask for new tires (or you will be paying for them soon after you buy the car). What you need to do is place a nickel with the head pointing into the tread between the tires. If you can see the top of the head, then you need new tires. Make sure you negotiate that into the price of the car.
2. Make sure you look for the spare tire. Is it what you expected to find? It is also very important to be sure that there is a tire jack and tire iron in the car. Find out now before you need it one day. The tire should be in good order, uncracked, and the rubber should feel moist. Check to see that the tires are not flat.
3. During the test drive, be sure to test the brakes. Give the car a hard stop from about fifteen miles per hour. It would be even better if you can test with a hard stop from a faster speed, but given road and traffic conditions, this may not be possible. The goal of this test is to see how the car stops. Listen to hear squeaks or squeals. Pay attention to the brake feel. If the brakes feel spongy, then you may have a problem with your brake cylinders.
4. If possible, park the car on a hill or at an angle. Use the parking break to make sure the car stays parked. While you are inside the car, put it in neutral and see if the car rolls downhill (it should if you are parked at a steep enough angle). Also be sure to check the emergency brakes. The nice thing is something like this can be corrected, but you need to be aware first.
5. You can check the shocks by driving a few feet and braking quickly. If the car rocks, the shocks may be worn. Another easy way to check is to get out and push up and down on the car. The car should not bounce up and down. What should happen is the car should go up, then down, and then stop.
If you use those five tips when you are out shopping for a used car and you will end up buying a good car. Obviously, there are other considerations to make, but these five tips give you a good place to start. One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of asking for a inspection from your mechanic. It may cost you a few hundred, but you may end up saving thousands!