If you’re looking to buy a second-hand vehicle — especially if you’re taking it off-road — there are a number of key considerations you need to look for when trying to find the right one. While some of these will be similar to things you need to look at for any used car, there are actually a few important points that differ from a traditional road-only car. So let’s have a look at them:
- Check if it’s really a 4×4. Some vehicles are marketed as “off-road” but aren’t actually 4×4. While some areas stipulate that you can’t market a car as off-road without them having 4×4 drive, some don’t. So make sure your vehicle really has 4-wheel drive or it won’t be that suitable for off-road.
- Check if it’s roadworthy. While you might be using the vehicle off the road most of the time, you might still need to drive it on the road, and it should still be safe. Make sure it’s in both a good enough condition to drive on the road, and that it’s also certified to do so.
- Check the service record. This is particularly important with diesel vehicles, since it’s very likely that the one you’re looking at probably will be.
- Check for oil leaks. Those under the engine and around the gearbox are ones you should be looking to avoid. Oil inside the wheel rims could also be a problem. While some seepage around the front axle is normal, the oil shouldn’t drip.
- Check the suspension. This is especially important with 4wd suspension. You can do this by bouncing and rocking the vehicle on all four corners — the bounce should stop quickly, otherwise it may indicate worn shock absorbers or a worn suspension.
- Check for rust. Make sure to inspect newly painted areas thoroughly, as they could be there to try and cover rust.
- Check if all windows and doors open normally, as well as the bonnet and tailgate. Also, check that all indicators and lights are in proper working order.
- Check the chassis frame for damage. Make sure it’s not too clean, or that paint is hiding damage.
- Check the engine and make sure it’s clean and has been well maintained. Compare the engine and chassis numbers with the registration to make sure they’re the same. Make sure they haven’t been tampered with. If they have — this is a complete no-no — you should not buy that vehicle.
These are just a few of the things you need to look at when buying a used off-road vehicle. Used off-road vehicles can take a lot of wear and tear, but they might still be ok to buy. Make sure you test drive the vehicle extensively before purchasing.