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Buying a Used Car that Hasn’t Been Driven in a Long Time

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

While used cars can still present a good value, it’s important to learn about their potential problems to avoid making a bad deal. Here are 3 easy things to do when buying a car that has been sitting for a long time.

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Ask Why the Car Hasn’t Been Driven

Find out why the seller is selling their car, and how long they have been trying to do so. There’s a big difference between finally deciding to sell a used car and unsuccessfully trying to sell one for months. If the seller has been trying to offload the vehicle for a while, that’s a huge warning sign that all of the other potential buyers thought it was a bad deal.

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Check for Corrosion and Frame Rot

Frame corrosion is common with cars, especially those that have been driven in cold climates with snow. If a car has been parked outside, it has been constantly exposed to the elements that can ultimately rot the car’s frame. The cost to repair or replace a ruined frame will make even the most unbeatable used car deal completely worthless. Don’t buy a used car with excessive frame corrosion.

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Be Sure It Runs

Unless you’re looking for a classic car to rebuild or restore, don’t ever buy a used car that doesn’t start or has not been driven in a long time. If a car was in decent condition before it was stored, it won’t take much to reanimate it. Be sure the car starts, and ask the seller if and when they’ve recently replaced any of the following:

  • Battery
  • Coolant
  • Engine oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Spark plugs
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How much the seller has maintained their vehicle can indicate how well they cared for their car back when they did drive it. If the seller knows when they’ve maintained certain aspects of the car, the used car may still be an ok buy even if it’s been a while. You’ll just have to take care of those things yourself. If they have no idea when they last changed the oil, they probably didn’t take good care of their car even before they stopped using it. You’ll want to avoid these used cars since there’s no telling how much repair work they’ll need in the future.

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