Watch For These Problems At The Used Car Dealerships In Orange County

If you’re about to head to some of the used car dealerships in Orange County, then you might already have a couple of candidates in mind for what could be your next vehicle. It’s best to narrow down the list to a particular make and model and then check to see if any of those specific cars are in your immediate area. It’s also a smart idea to make a checklist to take with you of deal breakers, things that will make you sure you don’t want the car in question. Here are some of the items that should be on that list.


Salvage Cars

Orange County residents should always know what to look for at used car dealerships that are critical red flags. The first one is if it says “salvage” on the title. Salvage cars have been through a significant wreck, and they’ve been considered a total loss by an insurance company. Some used car lots still try to sell these vehicles, though. They might appear to be okay on the outside, but it is more than likely that there is a significant problem with them. They are to be avoided.


If there’s rust all over the car, it is not worth it at any price. Rust is extremely difficult to get rid of when it has spread over the body of a vehicle. You can try to sand it off, but probably this will have a minimal impact. Rust means that pieces of the vehicle’s exterior are going to chip away slowly, and in the end, you’re going to see unsightly holes everywhere. Even if the price seems great, a rusty car is never the way to go.

Mildew Smell

A smell like spoiled milk is something else you should avoid, Orange County car shoppers. A mildew-like odor or a stale one also amounts to about the same thing: this is a vehicle that was probably subjected to the elements at some point, most likely a flood or other significant natural disaster. A smell of mildew means that the interior of the vehicle sustained water damage, and that can be deadly for the various electrical components. Use your nose when you get in a used car and be aware if that lemon air freshener is masking a serious problem.

Visual Evidence of Water Damage

At some used car dealerships you might find vehicles where you can see the water damage rather than smell it. What you want to look for are discolored rear seats or spots in the trunk where you can see that there was standing liquid at some point. If the trunk is not watertight, then that’s one way that it can happen, or maybe the windows were left rolled down during a severe thunderstorm. Often when that happens the damage is critical, so avoid these cars as well.

Check the Dipstick

You can also use the dipstick when checking out a used car to get some idea of the oil’s quality. It will reveal much about the car’s inner workings. If the dipstick shows shiny metal particles or it is gooey or black, that’s not a good sign. The oil might be yellow or brown depending on whether it is synthetic or not, but you can always trust the consistency. If it looks like sludge then that is an indicator of a potentially serious problem.

The Automatic Transmission Fluid

Many more used cars in Orange County are sold these days that have an automatic transmission rather than a manual one. If you’re checking out one of these cars, it’s also helpful to look at the automatic transmission fluid. If it is dark, has particles, or has a burned smell to it, then the car is probably going to need to get the transmission replaced sooner rather than later. Move on to the next vehicle on your list.

Knocking Noises

When you take the vehicle out for a test drive, listen for any strange noises as you go. The windows should be up while you’re driving so you can detect anything unusual, and you shouldn’t have the radio on, at least not while the car is in motion.

If you hear a knocking noise that gets louder when the vehicle speeds up, that’s a sign of possible engine problems. That noise alone should be enough to disqualify that vehicle from your consideration. If you hear a grinding sound that could mean the timing belt is in danger of giving way.

The Car Feels Worn Out

Maybe there’s isn’t anything immediately noticeable when you look at the outside of the car, but the engine struggles to start when you turn the key, many of the interior components appear worn, and the vehicle strikes you as shabby and poorly maintained overall. You can tell the difference between a car that has been lovingly looked after by the previous owner and one that has been driven by someone reckless.

Other things might convince you that the car at which you’re looking at isn’t for you. Some of the used car dealerships will carry vehicles that have problems like a persistent smell of cigarettes, or others that are newer models but already have a ton of miles on them.

When deciding whether you want to buy a car or not, think about what’s most important to you. If you judge the problems to be minor then maybe you’re okay with paying a reduced price and living with scratches, smells, or other factors that don’t impact the vehicle’s essential functions. Perhaps it’s something like a mismatched tire brand or a panel that is a different color from the rest of the car indicating that it was once in an accident.

Buying From A Dealer Or Private Seller

Once you have decided on the car you want to purchase, the budget and the best financing option, you have to think about whether you want to go to a private seller or dealership. Sure a private seller might be able to give you a lower price and is more willing to negotiate, but the cons outweigh the pros. For instance, a private seller can get away with not informing you about any issues the vehicle might have under the hood. Whereas dealers are required by law to inform you of the car’s road worthiness. In 1996, the Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV) program was launched to make sure that any Toyota car bought from an official dealer guaranteed quality, innovation and durability. The TCUV keeps you up-to-date with the car’s history and only receives Toyota’s seal of approval if it deserves it. You will not get that kind of service from a private dealer, since the only paperwork involved is the transfer of ownership, registration and taxation.

In general, it’s best to pay a little more to get a better vehicle. What seemed okay to you at first might begin to irk you once you’ve been driving the car for a while, and once the paperwork is signed, then there is no going back. If your car looks good both inside and outside and has no notable problems when you buy it, then you’re going to feel better about driving it for years. You don’t want to become known as the person who’s driving a sub-par vehicle to save a few hundred dollars.

Categories: Car Dealerships
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