Risks of buying a low-priced used car

by Aivaras Grigelevičius
May 13, 2021
by Aivaras Grigelevičius
May 13, 2021

It’s not about the overall cheap cars. No matter what car model you are interested in, the price range between the cheapest and the most expensive one usually is huge when buying a used car. It’s tempting to get yourself the most reasonable offer and leave the rest of your money to spend on something nice, right? Well, every car seller has a reason for selling, especially those who sell their cars for dirt cheap.

We present you with a few main things you could expect when buying a low-priced used car.

Hidden damages

This is definitely the most common reason to sell a car. Usually, it means that the cost of repairs will add up to the point where you’d be better off choosing another car – one of your goals must be to avoid this.

Failing engine

Here’s the classic case: a car owner found out that the slight ticking sound from the engine is something severe, so he’s left with two choices – costly repairs or selling the car. Often it’s easy to notice such problems – the engine is underperforming, making weird noises, there’s loads of smoke coming out of the exhaust. So, sellers are just waiting for that one person who isn’t familiar with cars enough to unveil the problem.

Don’t check used cars alone and take them to a local mechanic for a check-up. It’s much easier to make wise decisions when someone shares an impartial opinion.

Safety risks

Each new car must pass various safety tests and receives a safety rating of up to 5 stars. However, it quickly drops to a 0-star rating if the car has been in an accident and airbags don’t work.

If the car has been battered in the past, its body shell may be deformed, which causes it to lose strength. Moreover, some sellers place small resistors instead of replacing blown airbags – airbags won’t be working then, but even computer diagnostics can’t identify this fraud.


Rust is one of the biggest old car exterminators. Once steel fenders, doors, and panels are exposed to water and oxygen, they begin to rust. Corrosion can be fixed pretty easily if done immediately after noticing the first signs. However, many car owners ignore it – that’s when the problem progresses to making huge, literally unfixable holes in the car body panels and frame.

Vital systems don’t work

When you go to check a suspiciously cheap used car, make sure to check if everything is working. Let’s say the car of your interest is way cheaper than others, and everything seems to be okay – no signs of corrosion, engine runs like new, the interior is nice and fresh. But did you test the all-wheel-drive system if it’s an SUV? Are you sure all electronic systems are working as they should? A seller won’t be giving you his car for the lowest price for no reason.

Bad vehicle history and high mileage

Let’s get to the problems that cannot be fixed – bad vehicle history and high mileage. Thanks to various registries from all around the world, each vehicle’s VIN stores multiple data such as vehicle service history, damage reports, historical photos, theft records, previous owners, even common model-specific faults.

It’s worth checking the car’s history report as some problems can be vital. For example, many people buy stolen cars without knowing it, even though this information is often stored in the vehicle’s VIN. It also reveals data about past vehicle titles such as police, taxi, rental car – this could also be the reason for a low price.

Don’t take risks when buying a used car. Perform a proper test drive, check whether the engine runs smoothly and still produces decent power, test all the electronics, switches, look for corrosion or bad bodywork, and always get a vehicle history report. It’s uncommon that people sell good cars for cheap, so take some time to make sure this is one of those rare occasions.