When you’re buying a second-hand 4WD, do you know what you’re looking for?
Our buyers are always trading in 4WD’s – so we took it to them for some advice on the top 4 things to look out for to make sure you’re not getting a lemon.
If you’re buying a 4WD to go seriously off road, there’s a good chance that the last owner bought it for that reason as well.
Even if the car has been carefully maintained inside, you can spot if a car has been off road recently by having a look underneath.
If you’ve got room, crawl under the car (or get it onto a ramp or a lift) and take a look at the underside of the car. Check exposed, easily damaged parts like the fuel tank, or if any previous owners has already invested in under body protection, see if there are any telltale scratches or dents in the protective plate.
The metals and alloys used in cars are susceptible to rust or corrosion of some form – but in a car that’s used on everyday roads to travel to work; this usually doesn’t become a problem for decades. Because cars have anti-corrosion treatments applied before they leave the factory, even cars parked across from the beach for their lives don’t tend to rust for a long time.
However, a 4WD going off-road often scrapes underneath or scratches the paint revealing the bare metal underneath, which then becomes susceptible to corrosion – and continues if any damage is poorly repaired.
Some 4WD owners spray lanolin or fish oil on the underside of their car to prevent rust, however not all off-roaders take as much care; and if a car has spent a lot of time off road, particularly in wet environments like crossing creeks or washouts, driving on the beach or even snow (although that is rarer in Australia), it may speed up the corrosion process.
Check under the car as well as in the engine bay, which may not get cleaned as frequently as underneath the car. Small spots of rust can be repaired, but if it's widespread, especially in the structural components of the car (like the chassis or axles) - you might have to ask for a substantial amount off the price, or better off finding a vehicle that isn't as affected.
Going offroad is great fun, even if you do get a bit wet or muddy in the process - although the inside of your car does get a bit dirty. This isn’t so much a problem with functionality of the car, as it has to do with your everyday enjoyment. Generally speaking, the care that the previous owner has taken of the inside will be indicative of how they’ve treated the car on the road. Check for the obvious: scratches, broken or missing switches and bits of trim, which will tell you a lot about how well the owners of the car have treated it.
Especially if a car has waded through water, or has had muddy feet in and out, check the foot wells for rust, and if the car has carpet, check for any mould or damp (same goes for wet rears on cloth seats without covers or towels.)
Check the seals on the doors, when you’re stepping inside. A poorly or loosely sealed door will let dust and water in more easily and could reveal a door that’s been shaken up on hard, unsealed roads.
Buying a 4WD means you can save money to buy accessories and equipment to go further off-road; so if the car your buying already has accessories fitted – that’s more money saved, right? Not always.
If the last owner purchased Genuine Accessories for their vehicle when buying it new, it would’ve been fitted by a dealership and backed by a guarantee for the workmanship. Make sure they’re in good condition, with receipts for fitment and any maintenance that has been done over the years.
Aftermarket accessories (often bought from third-party suppliers, or even second hand) should be examined more thoroughly. Accessories bought from a store (ARB, TJM, Ironman 4X4 etc) usually have warranties or some kind of guarantee that the accessory is fit for purpose, but it’s still important to examine the quality of fitment and ask if it has been done privately or in a workshop.
Poorly manufactured or incorrectly fitted accessories can be dangerous, especially off road where you don’t need anything on your car failing halfway through fording a river, or falling off when you’re to get out of some soft sand.
The 4WDs at Motorama are all serviced to pass our stringent 110-point safety check that inspects everything from the bonnet to the boot – so you can guarantee that all of our used vehicles are ready to go wherever you need to be.
Our expert mechanics and service advisors see over 30,000 cars through our service centres in Moorooka, Browns Plains and Springwood – so if you have a question, our friendly team can find out the answer: whether you’re looking to buy, or just want to check before you head off road yourself!
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