Top 5 Ways to Find the BEST Used Car In Kingston!

So how do you know when you're actually looking at a GOOD used car in Kingston?

What do you look for? How do you know it's going to last you 2 to 5 years with minimal expense?  What sets used car dealers in Kingston apart from one another?   I often hear these questions from customer's and I always give the same advice. Here are my Top 5 ways to seek out a GREAT used car in Kingston!

Documentation, History Reports and Service Records...

Most reputable used car dealers in Kingston will always have a FREE CarProof History report on all of their used cars. It's a cost of doing business (about $45 a car) and a great way to reassure buyers that we (the dealer) are upfront and transparent. Keep in mind, there are instances where CarProof reports aren't 100% accurate.  Maybe the previous owner was a technician and did his own work after their kid ran into a wall... who knows!? There are various reasons and scenarios that CarProof just can't verify.  But as far a the 'big things' go, CarProof reports are great for reassuring - in general - that the vehicle is in good standing with financial institutions, the government, and other general situations that are most likely in 99.9% of every used car in Kingston that is sold.  That 0.1% unknown or unreported scenarios is a variance risk that you can on...

If the used car was previously owned by someone like my dad (the diligent accountant) - it will come with every single service invoice and receipt for every penny ever put into the vehicle. These vehicles, I admit, are few and far between and you should not expect them. It's a bonus. Not to mention that having service records and receipts don't necessarily always indicate a GOOD car.   Just because the previous owner was diligent doesn't mean that their car treated them well. It's your job to sift through the service records and assess the health of the vehicle over it's life thus far.  Was it routine maintenance?  Were there weird things that indicate a lemon (ie. transmission servicing, engine idle/knocking issues, safety recalls...etc) ?  It's important to determine exactly what all these service records (if any) are trying to tell you.  On the flip side, if there is a lot of documentation, look for records that aren't there, too.  Maybe the vehicle was repaired a lot, but never had an oil change... look for routine and good preventative maintenance. Don't be scared by one-off repairs either. Be mindful, not obsessive.

Be Superficial - Exterior and Interior Inspection...

First the paint. Open the trunk and doors and take a close look at the paint colour on the INSIDE. Do you see a difference from the sun-facing paint?  Chances are if the paint is a lot lighter of a shade on the outside (weather facing) than the vehicle was probably not sleeping in a garage at night. It could also mean it was sitting or stored outdoors for a long period of time.  Is that bad? ...well, no. As always, it depends. Be mindful, it's a clue not a tell-tale.  How does the weather stripping look?  Look at all the rubber parts that seals the doors closed and that holds the windows and windshields in. Are they cracking or chipping away? That's another clue.  How does the paint look? Are there scuffs, dings, dents, bubbles? Those are obvious signs of neglect and/or the mentality of the previous owner (how they drove their car). Less conspicuous are signs of body work...any eye can see them, you just have to know what you're looking at is body filler. It's often hastily splattered on a car and roughly sanded with a higher grit sandpaper, that leaves a much different surface than sheet metal. It's rougher, and it's usually a bit duller. If you're eye can't see it, and magnet will detect it.  

I have a very high powered magnet from an old house phone that I took apart (I was that kid)...any magnet will work. Put it in a cloth (so you don't scratch paint) and see where it sticks, and where it doesn't!  Just be mindful that some vehicles aren't made with sheet metal from the factory. Aluminum, fiberglass, even plastic body panels are out there. Google can usually guide you to the answer if you are researching a particular used car in Kingston.

Likewise, the interior. We all can pretty much tell when a car has been smoked in; that smell stays. Look for stains, tears, and missing panels... obvious signs of disrespect or lack of care. These are all clues into the previous owners habits.  Be mindful, it may be ugly... but it could be very reliable. Generalities will help you pick a great car. So it's good to play it safe when you suspect something has been ill treated just by visually inspecting it. You're sleuthing it out, remember.

Ticks, Creaks & Squeaks - How does it run?

So you've seen the documentation, you've visually inspected your potential used car find. Now it's time to take her out to the open road and give it a whirl. First thing is first, turn the radio on to make sure it works, if you're anal like me (thanks Dad) put an ear up to all the speakers too. Happy? Good. Now turn the radio off. You don't listen to the radio when you test drive a used car!  We're tuning our ears into the heartbeat of this car. How does the engine sound? Get out and open the hood with it running. Have someone give the engine a little rev while you're at it. A ticking noise could be a minor issue or a very major one. Look for leaks, or tell-tale signs of previous leaks. Check the fluid levels (oil, brakes, washer, coolant)... that will help indicate the previous owners habits or could indicate an on-going issue that will cost you a few KMs up the road. Again, these are clues, not the full story. What colour is the exhaust fumes?  White exhaust might indicate a blown (or soon to be blown) head-gasket. Blue would indicate burning oil. Either of those issues usually aren't cheap and are catastrophic down the road.  So you're driving down the road now... what do you hear?  Anything that ticks to a rhythm (or just constantly) indicates a moving part is misbehaving. What do you hear when you make a turn or when you brake? Keep your ears tuned to anything that sounds out of place.

Something else that I do, I go to each corner of the car and I bounce the car down. If it recoils once and stops moving your shocks are probably in good shape. If you notice that it goes up and down once or twice... it's a good sign they're worn out.  Again these are clues...

Private Sale, a Franchise Dealer or a Used Car Lot?

There are different questions to ask the owner in these three different scenarios. Truth be told, if you're after one particular vehicle, you're probably open to dealing with whoever has the exact used car you want in Kingston. Just be mindful.

The big difference with a franchise used car lot (like Edwards Ford's used car lot, for example) is that most of the used vehicles come from loyal dealership customer's.  There's an advantage to that. Often these are one-owner vehicles and all the servicing was done at the dealership. Typically the mileage is lower and there's a warranty that transfers over to the new owner.  It's something to keep in mind. Franchise dealer's used car lots are often filled with some of the highest quality used cars available in Kingston.

Don't get me wrong, car lots that only deal in used cars and private sales still yield GREAT used cars, but often there are more questions left unanswered that leaves the buyer in a more vulnerable position. Do I take this one now?... or do I wait for another one to pop-up with a better history or mileage?  Any reputable dealer will be as forth coming as they can be and offer assurances with your used car selection. It's more important to trust whom you're dealing with and know you'll be taken care of.

Recourse, Warranty, and Independent Inspection.

If you're considering a used car in Kingston from a franchise dealer than chances are you're buying a low mileage used car that has already been safetied and e-tested. Likewise, there is probably a nominal warranty and options to extend the warranty for years to come. Like Edwards Ford (I know, this is shameless advertising), we sell only used vehicles with very low mileage and often still has factory warranty. Of course, we offer a FREE 3 month 5000km warranty for everything without factory warranty left and yes, we have extended warranty options to make sure your used vehicle is protected for as long as you own it.  I'm sure other franchise dealers offer similar programs.

But what about private sales and smaller used car lots?  Does the vehicle come safetied and e-tested? Is there any guarantee? If you're buying a used car in Kingston privately or from a smaller used car lot it might be worth your while to take the vehicle to a garage you trust for an inspection. Hey, it's your money, you might as well be sure this is the vehicle that's going to last you for years to come! Spending $50 on an inspection now could save you thousands down the road.

I've bought a few hotrods in my day (well, tuner cars...), and I never bought them as is. I would always tell the private owner - "I will buy this car if it passes a pre-safety...which i will pay for."  I've lost a couple hundred bucks and the chance to own a few cool cars... but I've also known other people who bought the very cars I've passed on and well, let's say I am FOR SURE on the winning end of all of those bets. Diligence literally pays off (thanks again Dad).

Every vehicle has a life-cycle to them, each phase of the life-cycle has predictable costs associated with them. When a vehicle is new, the only cost is your regular maintenance (oil changes, brakes, tires)... the "consumables" that need to be changed every so often.  At about year 5, the vehicle is transitioning into a "upkeep/repair" phase. More expensive parts need to be changed due to wear and tear - ie spark plugs, calipers, transmission/brake/power steering fluid, alignments, suspension...etc. Not to mention random parts that just let you down at the worst times. Water pumps, bearings, radiators, transmissions...etc. No one likes going through that. Been there... pushed that!

All of the above steps will help you determine where in the life-cycle your next potential used car is, and what you can expect as far as ongoing expenses are. Again, be's all about mitigating your risks and improving your odds of finding a great quality used car in Kingston!  There are thousands out there, it's important to know how to spot them!

Happy shopping!  : )  Might as well click here and check out our used inventory, right? : )

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