WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU BUY A USED CAR (AND BEFORE)
Used cars with lower mileage are often lease returns, corporate program cars or former rental vehicles. When the car is newer—maybe new enough that it's still under warranty—and its mileage is hovering between 25,000 and 35,000, it provides a sense of comfort and confidence. But there is still a burning question to be answered: How well was my "new-to-me" car maintained?
If you plan on owning a car for a long time, keeping up with maintenance is important to keep from paying for expensive repairs down the road. On the other hand, those who plan to only own the car for a few years may not be so committed to regular maintenance. It's easy to assume that a skipped oil change here and there won't ruin an engine, but this is incorrect. Unfortunately, by the time the engine goes, it's someone else's problem.
If the vehicle didn't come with maintenance records, you need to assume the worst and hope for the best. Most likely the coolant system and transmission have never been serviced. The cabin air filter has probably not been changed and a fuel system cleaning may be in order.
Take your new used car to a NAPA AutoCare Center and ask your service provider to check the air conditioning, battery, engine air filter, serpentine belt and hoses. Remember to have them check the timing belt as well—this is far more expensive if it fails! An inspection is well worth the cost and, in this situation, it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.
If your "new" vehicle has more miles on it, getting it inspected is even more important. Check the owner's manual or talk with your AutoCare service adviser about what should have been done. Your service adviser will help you get all of your maintenance priorities in order. Remember to keep your repair and maintenance records—you'll need them if you ever decide to sell the car!
And, of course, before you buy that used car in the first place, take it to us for a complete inspection so there are NO surprises.