How to Buy a Used 4×4

Need a 4×4 that you can rely on for regular use but tight on budget? Buying a used 4×4 will help you even out the odds but it may also lead you to spending more money than necessary, if you’re not keen enough on picking the right one.

In this article, we’ll guide you in terms of the proper selection and buying methods of a second-hand 4×4. This way, you know you’re not acquiring something that comes with an excess baggage.

1.  Find Common Problems for Your 4×4

Even though you already have your prospects, a bit of further digging won’t hurt. Given that you’ve chosen your top 3-5 4x4s online, it’s time you look for the common problems that you may encounter on each vehicle.

To do this, consult Google and type on the search bar your preferred vehicle with the word “problems,” and Google automatically suggests various problems under the same topic. For example, when you type D4D Hilux Problems, you’ll get search results like engine rattle and injector seat recall.

Once you’ve set your eyes on specific problems, you have to go to that 4×4’s official manufacturer’s website or any similar online site that gives you access to the forums. By looking at the forums, you’ll gain insights on how to solve such problems as explained by owners of the same 4×4 like, how much the repair costs or what kind of injector replacement it requires.

2.  Take Your Pick Between Ordinary and Purely Off-road

There are basically 2 types of 4WDs, one that’s a typical clean-canvas design and the other that’s meant to withstand degrees of abuse. Below are some examples for each type including the number of units sold, based on caranddriver.com.

The former talks about what you usually see on the roads or streets including the SUV and plain Sedan. More than 80% of people own this kind of vehicle that has never been off-road, while there are others who never dared to set their vehicles’ differential locks in 4WD and move forth, for fear of damages.

Most Popular On-road Vehicles for 2019

Vehicle Number of Sales
Nissan Rogue 272,300
Toyota Camry 256,456
Honda Civic 255,484
Chevrolet Equinox 253,956
Toyota Corolla 233,978

On the contrary, the latter talks about the very resilient off-road counterpart. This one’s really made to traverse the harsh paths from sticky to snowy, like the famous jeep. Then again, remember that investing in this type is very expensive, especially if you’re planning on doing modifications to it.

Most Popular Off-road Vehicles for 2019

Vehicle Number of Sales
Ford F-Series 662,574
RAM Pickup 461,115
Chevrolet Silverado 412,259
Toyota RAV4 324,622
Jeep Wrangler 176,020

3.  Examine the 4×4’s Exterior and Interior

This is the part where you begin your 4×4 inspection to check for visible damages and other issues that need to be addressed, immediately. You can do this by starting with the vehicle’s paint. Usually, when a vehicle has been stagnant for 5-7 years, you’ll notice that the color fades and it appears lighter than before.

Another thing to check would be the 4×4’s windows. Do they have a few scratches? Or is one on the passenger’s side broken and is an absolute eyesore? Don’t forget to also check the rubber seals because if they’re peeling away and showing a different color underneath, you can tell they’re signs of aging.

However, looking at exterior defects on the 4×4 is just as important as looking at interior ones. Sometimes when you get in a used 4×4 and close the door, you won’t be able to get out. This is normally because of a door misalignment or jammed lock. Plus, you should also look at the tinting. There’s no way of validating whether a tint’s illegal or not unless with a tint tester but generally, if you can’t clearly see outside, there’s a chance you won’t be able to able to properly drive.

4.  Inspect the Tires

Taking a close look at the 4×4’s tires also contributes in the 4×4’s overall assessment. One way to do it is to check for wear signs. If the tires show an unbalanced appearance, let’s say there’s a wear on the inner ridges in such a way that one side has a lot of tread and the other side’s worn right in, you’ll realize it needs a tire replacement. But for you to be 100% sure, you should either use a tire tread gauge or do the coin test.

The coin test is a simple method to determine if your tire tread depth’s acceptable or not. To have an accurate result, the coin’s inserted in an inverted manner with the head facing down. If the coin’s head outline’s not visible, it means the tire’s still in the recommended tread depth.

However, if the middle portion of the tires is worn out nicely, it means that tires ran under high PSI pressure, so watch carefully. On the other hand, if the outside edges are worn out and the middle isn’t, it means the tires ran under low PSI pressure.

Bear in mind that going for the extremes is bad. Tires that are running on high PSI can become too stiff. They may be useful for cornering moves but they can easily make your 4×4 slide because of low traction and are prone to punctures from sharp yet small objects along the way.

On the contrary, if the tires are running on low PSI, they’re in danger of hydroplaning. This is because they’re too soft which allow unnecessary water build-up during ground contact. They increase traction but they make your vehicles unresponsive to braking controls.

Generally speaking, high PSI is ideal for on-road vehicles and low PSI is for off-road vehicles but go for your tires’ recommended or optimal PSI, for proper stability and fuel usage.

Moreover, it’s good to check the spare tires because they tell how the vehicle functions. If you noticed differences in tire brands for example, the spare tire is Dunlop but the rest of the tires are Yokohama, it suggests the 4×4 doesn’t rotate tires in 5 but may rotate in 4, instead. Plus, same tire brands equate to tires that are of equal sizes.

5.  Look at the Engine Bay

Many people neglect checking the engine bay because of its technicalities but it still deserves much attention because it’s known as the 4×4’s heart.

Obviously, if the entire engine bay is crawling with filth, it means it hasn’t been cleaned for a long period and reflects poorly on the previous owner. In fact, it means he or she doesn’t provide the 4×4’s engine with the regular maintenance it requires.

On the flipside, if certain areas of the engine bay are clean but the rest are dirty, it leaves an impression that something’s either cleaned or fixed recently to make it look presentable. Then, there’s also the engine oil which you can check if it’s full or not, just by pulling the dipstick. And if brake fluid’s low, it’s a sign there’s a valve leak.

6. Determine the 4×4’s Real Worth

When everything’s said and done, before you give the seller a firm handshake, it’s important that you’re fully aware of the used 4×4’s real value on the market.

For example, the seller’s asking price for the vehicle is $35,000. You may visit credible websites including those of car insurance companies to verify the vehicle’s true worth. If they reveal that the 4×4’s price is only $30,000, you’ll automatically notice a price difference of $5,000.

Remember that your aim here is to either get the 4×4 at the exact price that you found out online or get it at a lower price from the original one. This way, you’ll be getting the most out of your money.

To make things clearer, take the case of edmunds.com. The site determines the value of a vehicle depending on the year, model, brand and vehicle style. Once such factors are settled, they make up the True Market Value (TMV).

The TMV gives you an idea on how much other people are willing to pay for the same kind of vehicle given its level of availability and popularity, based on the 4 factors.

Keep in mind though, the TMV provides an estimated cost of the vehicle, which takes into account all fees that may arise within the transaction or negotiating period, meaning all fees that may happen afterwards are automatically disregarded. As a result, you’ll get a glimpse of the vehicle’s fixed, upfront worth that you may use during a counter offer.

If the seller’s giving you $27,000, you may immediately inform him or her that you’ve identified the TMV of the given vehicle which happens to be $23,000. Then, the seller will be forced to meet you halfway until you’ve reached agreeable terms.

7. You Decide What Happens to Your Money

Never let the 4×4 seller or dealer dictate where your money goes and how it should be spent. Take note, it’s your money and it’s your call. No more, no less.

A lot of buyers can be persuaded through flattery or when the seller talks mostly of what’s beneficial but it’s valuable that you carefully weigh the pros and cons of finally buying your chosen 4×4.

If the offer sounds too-good-to-be-true in a sense that it rarely acknowledges any potential problem on the vehicle, chances are, the seller’s only bluffing you.

8. Consider Your Budget

If you’re aiming for a 4×4 that’s very affordable, expect getting something that needs frequent repairs on your garage, which require either doing it on your own or with help from a professional. This is because you can’t discount the fact that such vehicles are often used and abused.

On the other hand, if you’re eyeing on 4x4s that are a bit expensive and need minor repairs, you can’t immediately proceed with vital repairs on them, if there are any because they may still be under warranty, unless you nullify the warranty.

Don’t forget to check only credible websites selling such to ensure you’re paying for them fair and square. Below’s a price list of some used 4WDs according to autotrader.ca.

Some Prices of Used 4WDs

Vehicle Type Price
2019 Jeep Wrangler Sport $38,390
2019 Chevrolet Colorado $25,995-$60,680
2019 Mitsubishi RVR $19,648-$37,122
2019 Nissan Murano SL $45,263

9. Avoid Impulsive Buying

Never get attached to a particular vehicle because there’s always something better that’ll catch your attention in terms of price and features that match your requirements, especially when you’re in an array of 4x4s.

If the store doesn’t have an online site and you have no choice but to go on an actual visit, choose your top 3-5 4x4s to make your selection easy and quick.

Selling Tactics to Get You Distracted

Just when you thought you’re getting a fair deal on your desired 4×4, there are instances when the seller’s only telling you what you WANT to hear and not what you NEED to hear about the vehicle. Here are some hints to identify if the seller’s manipulating you and how to stay on track. For the detailed explanations, click here.

  1. For example, if you’re talking about the 4×4’s actual price and you’re trying to bargain with it for a lower one, then the seller starts asking how much can you pay per week. Never give in to it because the seller’s discreetly forcing you to pay for a fixed amount every week.
  2. This happens when the vehicle store or yard uses the aid of a financing company to be able to sell the 4×4 to anyone at an overwhelming amount. They’ll conceal the vehicle’s actual price and they’ll charge you with a 30% or higher interest rate because they have a cut on it.
  3. Remember in the beginning of the article that getting emotionally attached to a vehicle is a huge NO? This is an addition to it. When the seller notices that you’re fond of a particular 4×4 brand and model, he or she will “pry” on it, meaning he or she will do everything in his or her power to convince you to buy it at a regular price.

Conclusion

Even though buying a used 4×4 entails a very long process, being open to the possibilities that you may encounter along the way reduces stress and pressure. By carefully following each reminder from choosing the used 4×4 to closing the deal, you correctly anticipate what’s to come, as you keep your budget in mind and avoid playing right into the seller’s hands. Share us your buying experiences by commenting below.

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