Most of us have a car that we've wanted to own forever. It might be a car that we dreamed about one day having while in high school, or one that captured media headlines when it was released. Perhaps it was a ride featured in your favorite movie. Regardless of the reason, time has passed, you’ve saved up your pennies and you’re ready to finally achieve that dream. How can you ensure that your ownership experience goes as smoothly as possibly?
You need to tread carefully. Older cars can have a particular set of issues that are often expensive to repair down the line. Don't let the desire of owning your dream car cloud your judgement, as it could make for a frustrating and unfulfilling life together. Doing a little bit of work now can save you a lot of anguish and money down the road.
Here are five things to watch for when buying an older car.
Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide.com, the online marketplace for used auto parts.
Leaking Engine Seals
During a car's lifetime, the engine seals expand and contract due to changes in pressure and temperature. If a car is left sitting a long time without being driven, the seals can deteriorate even faster because they dry out and become brittle. Eventually, vehicles with worn out engine seals will start to leak oil. Engine work is expensive, so beware of a large impending repair bill.
Cars that spend most of their lives in harsh winter climates tend to exhibit rust in the undercarriage and around the window seals. Salt and moisture can be devastating to a car's chassis, and the cost of a proper repair can significantly exceed the car's purchase price. Additionally, mild to moderate signs of rust indicate there could be even more severe hidden corrosion.
Fading Or Peeling Paint
A car that has a cheap paint job or has spent its life outside can have faded or cracked paint. Usually, the only solution for this problem is to completely repaint the car, which costs thousands. Unless you’re prepared to spend the money for a professional paint job, keep looking.
Cracked Or Sagging Interior
Prolonged outdoor exposure can also be devastating to a car's interior, causing seats, dashes, and door panels to crack and fade. Finding original replacements parts can be challenging for an older car, and new reproductions can be pricey.
While older cars have fewer gadgets than today’s modern vehicles, they still have their fair share of complex electronic components. While some electrical problems are relatively simple to diagnose and remedy, beware of mysterious electrical issues that the seller can’t identify. This could result in a hefty repair bill down the road.