When buying a used car, there’s always a chance that you’ll inherit some problems. Most car buyers are aware of this but recognize they’re getting a much lower price on the vehicle than if they were to buy it new. The hope is that any problems that do turn up will be minor and easy/inexpensive to fix.
Even though used cars don’t have the same warranties as new cars, dealerships will often provide a limited warranty on some or all of the vehicle’s components. When buying a repossession, this is not the case. You buy the car “as-is” and that’s that. Whatever problems the vehicle has will become yours.
This is not to say that all repossessed cars, trucks and RVs have problems. Many are actually in great condition and only require light cleaning and routine maintenance. Below are the most common car problems you can fix on your own. Don’t let them scare you out of a great repo purchase!
Replace Dead Battery
If the repo you’re inspecting isn’t running, it might need a new battery. Batteries are reasonable and can be replaced on your own. Here are a few ways to tell if the battery is dead or close to dying:
- The engine cranks but doesn’t start.
- The car starts but is sluggish.
- The engine starts but the interior lights don’t turn on.
- Jumpstarting the battery works.
If it’s not the battery giving the repo vehicle trouble, it could be the alternator, which will need to be fixed by a professional. Alternators run from around $500 to $1,000.
Install New Bulbs
It’s possible that the repo will have non-working lights. You can change out any non-headlight bulbs (e.g., license plate, side marker, fog lights) by removing the retaining screws, pulling out the old bulbs and replacing them with new bulbs. Car headlights can be more difficult to remove and replace, but referring to the owner’s manual will likely provide you with the direction you need.
Switch Out the Air Filter
Air filters trap dirt and debris that could damage internal engine parts. They are often checked and replaced during routine oil changes, though it’s very likely that the previous owner didn’t do this. Inspect the air filter during your initial inspection. If it blocks 50% or more light, it will need to be replaced.
Touch Up Chipped Paint
It’s common for repossessed vehicles to have chipped auto paint from sitting outdoors. Fortunately, it’s easy to touch up auto paint without it looking shoddy. Clean the chip with wax and grease remover (purchased from the auto store). When dry, dip the applicator in paint and dab it onto the chip. After a month, apply wax to the area. The vehicle will look good as new!
Fix a Leaky Sunroof
If the repo you’re interested in has a leaky sunroof, don’t be discouraged. It’s probably leaking because the sunroof drains are clogged. To fix this, locate the sunroof drains and clean out any debris that is stuck in them. There is protocol to follow on this, as you don’t want to damage the drain tubes. But, it’s an easy job you can do yourself.
These are just some of the things you can fix on your own, so you shouldn’t let them deter you from an otherwise good repo purchase. To browse repossessions in your area, visit RepoFinder.com and click on your state!