These Three Things are Deal-Breakers when Shopping for a Used Car

Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of used cars are listed for sale at any point in time. They range from nearly-new certified pre-owned vehicles on a dealership’s lot to classic cars and rebuilt or salvage title cars. For the most part, used cars you’ll find on Kijiji, Autotrader, and on dealer websites are between three and five years old.

If you’re shopping for a good daily driver or a second vehicle for the family, there are certain criteria you demand – things like a recent safety certification and no major mechanical problems, for example. But you might come across a car that’s running and driving alright but should be immediately stricken from your short list.

If you come across these three situations, you should run – they’re deal-breakers for any used car buyer.

Salvage or Rebuilt Title

Maybe you’ve found your dream car, and you’re shocked that it’s in your price range because it’s thousands less than all the others. The test drive goes well, and the car looks immaculate but there’s a disclaimer. The seller mentions in passing that your dream car has a salvage title but, “There’s nothing to be worried about. It was repaired properly and re-certified.”

If you’re looking for a long-term, dependable vehicle, a rebuilt or salvage title is a deal-breaker. It has previously been an insurance write-off, meaning thousands of dollars in severe damage. Sure, it looks like it’s in perfect condition but it’s not the same as when it left the factory. Under the shiny new paint and well-cleaned interior, there’s no telling which parts are new and which are from the junkyard, and who knows how well it was repaired?

Because a pre-inspection is necessary when you’re buying an extended warranty from Carfuffle and other companies, it might be impossible to get any coverage against unexpected repairs.

Even if the car is less than three years old and has under 60,000km, the warranty is voided if it has been a write-off. Other than recalls, there will be no help from the manufacturer if something goes wrong. The car may be cheap but don’t be fooled – it is NOT a good buy.

Warning Lights

When you take a test drive, pay special attention to the instrument cluster. It’s normal for all those yellow and red warning lights to pop on (a bulb check) when you fire up the engine, but they should turn off after a few seconds. If they stay on, it indicates a problem.

Here’s the thing. A car can run perfectly well but have warning lights on. For example, the ABS light could stay on and feel completely normal when you drive it. But there’s a reason it’s on. The second you need to slam on the brakes in an emergency, they might lock up rather than help you keep control.

The same is true for any warning light. It could cost hundreds of dollars to fix (or more!), or it could be a dependability or safety concern. As well, any extended warranty you buy, whether from Carfuffle or elsewhere, will have exclusions for pre-existing conditions. If warning lights are illuminated, that’s a deal-breaker unless the seller gets it fixed for you.

No Warranty (or No Available Warranty)

Car repairs can be quite expensive. An average Honda radio replacement is over $1,000 and a typical front crankshaft oil seal is between $200 and $800. If your transmission needs to be replaced, it’s often $4,000 or more to have it rebuilt or replaced.

If your budget doesn’t have that kind of space for car repairs, then considering a vehicle without warranty is a deal-breaker. That eliminates most cars that are over three years old or have more than 60,000km on them.

However, Carfuffle has competitively priced extended warranty available for most makes and models of any year. Whether you’re shopping for a used car, truck, SUV, or minivan, you can purchase customized coverage for your new-to-you vehicle so you can have peace of mind.