*This is a collaborative post
Just because you’re driving a car every day doesn’t mean that you know all about how they work and what they do. But just a little bit of knowledge can save you a world of stress, if it allows you to anticipate problems before they have a chance to snowball.
Fortunately, most modern cars come with a sophisticated dashboard, allowing the onboard computers to relay information to the driver quickly. Let’s take a quick tour through a few of the more common warning signs, and what they might signify.
What do the lights on the dashboard mean?
Many of the lights you might see are self-explanatory, and listed in the manual. The oil pressure warning light means that you should check the oil level, because you might have sprung a leak somewhere. The same applies to the brake warning light, which might indicate a problem with the hydraulics.
While you’re in the driver’s seat, you should be paying particular attention to the sounds that your car makes. That way, you’ll find it easier to spot when something isn’t quite right. For example, if you hear a knocking sound, the likely culprit is the engine valvetrain.
If you form a close relationship with a trusted mechanic, then you might find it easier to pinpoint to source of potential problems before they have a chance to snowball.
What are the benefits of a used car?
There are several reasons why you might prefer to shop for a used car rather than a new one.
The most obvious is that used cars are more affordable. You won’t have to deal with the burden of depreciation, which is most acute during the first few weeks and months of the car’s life.
You might also find that you end up being charged lower insurance premiums, simply because the car is easier to replace.
The used car market also tends to offer a greater range of choice, simply because there are more used cars than there are brand new ones. If you want to pick up a used Mercedes in London, for example, it’s pretty straightforward.
How to negotiate the best price
Getting the best price on a used car is an artform. It’s a good idea to visit the dealership toward the end of the month, or just before the numberplates change. That way, they’ll be incentivised to sell in order to meet quotas. You should also make sure that you inspect the vehicle in person, so that you can try to use any defects to negotiate yourself a discount.