After purchasing a used car, it’s common to be concerned about both its past and its future. Even if it came with a warranty, or if you had the time to do a full inspection, there can still be some uncertainty about the maintenance that was performed on the vehicle in the past, how it was treated or driven, and what impact those things might have on your ownership of the vehicle over the years.
Check out these four tips that can help you get the most out of your pre-owned vehicle and reduce any post-purchase anxiety.
1. Change Those Fluids
One of the first things you should do after purchasing a used car is change as many of its serviceable fluids as your budget will allow. If you have full service records for the vehicle going back to the day it was purchased, then maybe you can skip this step, but that’s uncommon in the world of secondhand automobiles.
Start with the standard fluid swaps — new engine oil, new brake fluid — and expand that to include a radiator coolant flush, as well as a check and possible replacement of the automatic transmission fluid (if required) or manual transmission oil. Depending on how you plan to use your vehicle, you may also want to change the differential gear oil, especially if you plan to tow or haul heavy loads.
2. Don’t Forget the Filters
You probably know to change the oil filter when you have the oil changed, but after purchasing a used car it’s also a good idea to replace the engine’s air filter, which is easy enough to do in your own driveway. There’s one more filter, however, that often gets overlooked, and that can have a substantial impact on your enjoyment of your vehicle: the cabin air filter.
This component is usually underneath the dashboard, and it serves to filter out pollen, dead leaves and dust so that it doesn’t build up inside your vehicle’s cabin heating and cooling system. Replace it to enjoy cleaner air and better performance from your vents year-round.
3. Check Out the Tires
You negotiated a good deal based on mileage, age and features, but did you think to ask how old the tires on the car were — or how many miles they might have? Shined-up rubber can hide any number of defects that will only become apparent on closer inspection, so check the tread for wear, check the sidewalls for cracks and verify the date each tire was manufactured to make sure they’re all safe to drive on.
4. Visit a Mechanic You Trust
This last step after purchasing a used car assumes you weren’t able to obtain an independent inspection before you bought your vehicle. In a perfect world your mechanic would have the final say on anything you bought, but in reality, budget and time constraints might make that impossible. Once the keys are in your hands, however, it’s time to head to your local NAPA AutoCare location and have a thorough inspection done to make sure you didn’t miss any small, but potentially important maintenance issues that need to be dealt with.
Buying a used car doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing. Arm yourself with knowledge going into the deal, ask a lot of questions and complete this checklist after taking your new (to you) ride home.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what to do after purchasing a car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.