When it comes to buying a car, there are two obvious paths. You can buy a brand new car from an official manufacturer and get a full service and warranty package that you attend to yourself. The alternative is to buy one that comes used, usually at great financial benefit.
But as far as second hand cars go, there is always some form of wear and tear from age and use that means you have to prepare a little more cash to take care of these potential problems. Having a car’s service history always helps, but even if that’s available there may be some prudence in preventative maintenance.
Given that prices vary greatly between different manufacturers and models, it is also important to get involved with other owners of the car you’re looking at so you can get a grasp of how much it would cost to replace or things to avoid. Also important is to look for any recall notices that may have gone out but haven’t yet been rectified.
Anyway, let’s get down to business. We’ve broken down second hand cars into rough tiers of age – not mileage – because even sitting around in a garage can wear certain components down. Let’s get started!
Between 1 and 3 Years
If you’re buying a second hand car that’s between one and three years old, chances are you won’t really need to do much to get them into good condition. Here are the things you will most likely need to check or resolve with a car of this age range:
- Engine oil
- Brake Pads
- Brake Rotors
- Windscreen Wipers
Between 3 and 5 Years
Here is where things may start to get a little tricky. Some cars tend to be a little more hardy in this area so you may be presently surprised to find these components won’t need changing, while some cars may be driven extra hard so these parts will wear out a little more quickly. For this vintage of car, prepare to go through:
- Spark plugs
- All rubber bushings
- Engine mounts
- Engine air filter
- Cabin air filter
Between 5 and 10 years
Over the next few years of its life, you will find that more and more components will need replacing as they reach the end of their engineered life spans. The pricing for these items can vary quite heavily as they are big ticket components, but you can expect to have to pay attention to your:
- Suspension dampers
- Fuel pump
- ABS pump
- Wheel speed sensors
- Headlights and/or tail lights
Over 10 Years
Welcome to the twilight zone. This is where there is so much uncertainty as to a car’s condition that you could be facing quite nearly anything – and you’re so far out of warranty that you’re really on your own. When you’re at this point, there’s no holds barred – solutions are going to come in many forms and they may not always be OEM or manufacturer approved.
The engine may need a full rebuild. Ten years is a long time and that’s a lot of cold starts and bearing wear, so either way you will need to get it carefully inspected at a workshop to see the condition of various components. The transmission will almost definitely need a fluid flush, as will the radiator and pretty much every fluid in the car.
We hope this guide gives you a very rough idea of the maintenance costs you can expect to incur if you buy a second hand car – and if you do your research and find these components can fit within your budget, you could still get a pretty decent deal on a second hand car. After all, forewarned is fore armed.