When buying classic cars, there is always a danger that you will get less than what you pay for. Vintage vehicles may appreciate in value, but always remember that these cars are ten to twenty years old–and that means there is a great possibility that there are some damages and scratches that will lessen its value.
As a general reminder, do not buy a car hastily. Take the time to inspect everything, from the exterior to the upholstery, and even the tires. Here are a few quick inspection tips when buying classic cars.
1. If you don’t know a thing about cars, contact an expert.
If you think you don’t have enough knowledge about classic cars, it is best to contact a mechanic for an inspection before you purchase. If you inspect the car without the proper knowledge, it is almost similar to not inspecting it at all. And even if you do have a car geek side, it might still be best to contact a mechanic to assist you. They might even give you a tip as to how much the vehicle is really worth.
2. Make sure you see all the paperwork and documents.
Always look for all the paperwork, from repair records to Vehicle Identification Numbers. Be suspicious of sellers who could not show all the proper documents, especially if the deal is too sweet. You would not want to risk buying a stolen car.
3. Inspect every inch of the exterior.
Check everywhere for rust. If you see one, see to it that it’s just surface rust that could be wiped off. Also look for signs of repair, and cross-check with the paperwork. If you see a repair made that’s not in the documents, ask the seller about it. Make sure that all the repairs have been made properly.
Inspect the mirrors, hinges, and all of the hard-to-inspect spots, like the space in between doors. And of course, check the body for any scratches or bumps. Don’t forget to bring a magnet, as that may help in detecting iron fillings used to makeshift-repairs for dents.
4. Inspect every inch of the interior.
Check out the upholstery. Look for cracks, stains, and loose threads. Inspect the dashboard, the door, and headliner for any damage or watermarks. If the classic car is a convertible, check out the convertible top, especially if it’s made of textile. Make sure that there are no tears. Look at all the glove compartments. Dust is okay, but hard to remove sticky stains are not.
5. Check under the hood and all other mechanisms.
Look for leaks, loose wirings, and rust. Check for water in the oil and fuel filter. Inspect the belts for tears and possible stress. Do know the history of the particular car, and make sure that the engine is original (unless the owner says that it’s modified). Honk the horns, operate the wipers, and check the handbrakes.
6. Go for a test drive.
Ask the owner to start the car. Black or blue smoke out of the exhaust is not a good sign. Start the car yourself and listen to how the motor hums when idle, as well as when revved. Take the car for a ride, and observe the car’s performance. How well does it accelerate? Is the suspension handling high-speed stresses well? Are the brakes too light or too strong? Is the steering wheel responsive enough? And finally, check the tachometer, speedometer, and odometer.
Correctly inspecting a classic car may help you save a few bucks, especially if you know what to look for. Negotiate fairly. If the seller won’t agree to your terms, leave the car. Unless it’s a very rare first edition make, you could probably find another one that’s much cheaper or easier to restore.