Red sport sedan

So, you’re buying a car. One thing to watch out for is an open recall on the vehicle. By definition an open recall is a notice issued by automobile manufacturers to inform owners of harmful safety defects in components. As the name implies the vehicle must be returned for fixing. 

As a buyer it’s in your best interests to avoid the risk, inconvenience and costs of buying a ‘lemon’. The first place to go is https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls (USA) where you can enter the VIN number of the vehicle you are buying. 

It’s often not just one brand that may be affected by a recall. A major story now is that tens of millions of cars with Takata airbags are being recalled.  

If you are buying an electric vehicle be aware that a number of vehicles are being recalled over battery fires, including the Chevy Bolt EV, Porsche Taycan, Ford Mustand Mach E, Ford Kuga hybrids (Europe), and Hyundai Kona EVs. There have been others like BMW and Volvo models. Although Tesla has not had a major recall they do have a pending class action court case. If you are looking to buy any of these then check out this CNBC article.

Buick and Chevrolet sedans have been recalled for suspension problems. General Motors is recalling 34,000 Buick Lacrosse, Buick Regal, and Chevrolet Malibu sedans from 2013 to fix a problem with the rear toe link, which keeps the wheels pointing in the right direction! This recall is an expansion of an earlier recall. 

Land Rover is recalling more 111,000 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SUVs from the 2010 – 2013 and Land Rover LR4 SUVs from the 2010- 2016 because their fuel tanks may crack and result in a fuel leak. The vehicles involved are 3.0-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 gasoline engines.

Another thing to remember is that most recall news is about recent recalls, usually less than 3 years old. Many cars older than 3 years have been recalled in the past and really can only be found out by careful search. Try this in Google- Make, Model, Year recall, and see what comes up. 

For more recent recall news check out this article from Detroit Free Press. It features the following brands: Altec, Audi, Bentley, Black Tie, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Forest river, GMC, Nissan, Hyundai, Kalmar, Kawasaki, Kia, Lincoln, Land Rover, Mack, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Newmar, NRC, Polaris, Porsche, Ranger Trail, Rosenbauer, Spartan, Spartan Fire, Toyota, Utilimaster, Volkswagen, Volvo Bus and Wabash. Too many individual models to mention!! 

Friendly Mechanics

Next stop after the basic search is your friendly mechanic. Hopefully someone you know, have used before and trust.  He or she will give you a more honest opinion on the make, model and year of vehicle you are considering buying. The person selling is never going to be on your side and as honest as a trusted mechanic. 

Older cars have some recognized faults which mechanics are aware of. If you know some of these minor defects you may still buy the car but at least you will have a better idea of what you are getting into. If your mechanic says ‘these cars are always breaking down’ then RUN! 

Inspections

It’s worthwhile getting an inspection on the vehicle for sale from a mechanic. In the UK or South Africa my favorite inspector was the AA- Automobile Association. In the United States there are a number of businesses nationwide. Search auto inspection in your state. Readers, if you have a favorite nationwide inspection service then share in the comments below. 

Extended Warranties

Many persons prefer to buy cars with extended warranties from dealerships. I can’t say anything exciting about extended car warranties. Usually they have so many get out clauses that they are not worth paying extra for. Read the fine print. Sometimes all it does is get the dealer off the hook for selling you the lemon. 

Car History

Car dealers often sell cars with car histories from companies like CarFax. These are useful because you will be sure in most cases of not buying a car which has been in an accident. But a car history is not a replacement for an inspection. If a person claims they have maintained the car well then the least they can do is show good receipts, a form of maintenance history. They may even have a log book! Bonus!

Common Sense

Exhibit common sense when buying.

  • Compare prices of similar cars locally.
  • Don’t get emotional. Don’t rush the purchase.
  • Check the person selling the vehicle is named in the vehicle documents. Ask for a driver’s license.
  • Arrange for the private seller to meet you at a public place for a test drive.
  • Arrange for an inspection first before handing over money. You’ll have to pay for the inspection. 
  • Arrange to go with the seller to the Transport Authority to sign hand over papers before completing payment. 
  • If they say no, don’t buckle. Walk away.
  • Buying from a dealer is safer, but may cost more. It’s also no guarantee of buying a good car.
  • Buy a car you can afford. If you lose your job and are stuck with an expensive car it can ruin you for years. 

Readers, have any ideas to add? Please comment below. 

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