Buying A Leased Car: Which Tire To Kick?

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November 9, 2016

If you're thinking about buying a leased car, you should try to find as much information about the vehicle as possible. Many times, leased vehicles haven't been maintained as well as other types of used vehicles. The reason is simple - people know they won't have the vehicle long. While most people will not abuse a leased vehicle intentionally, properly maintaining the vehicle may not have been their highest priority. Therefore, it is important for you to check out the vehicle thoroughly before making the deal. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you do just that:

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Step 1 - Check the VIN Number History

If possible, contact the seller or dealership, and ask them to provide you with the VIN number. Then, go to Carfax and purchase a vehicle history report for the vehicle. The cost is minimal and the report will give you all sorts of useful information, such as: accident histories, last known mileage, and the title status. All of these things are very important to know before purchasing a leased vehicle.

Step 2 - Inspect the Car

If there were no problems with the Carfax history report, then arrange to meet the seller and view the car. You will then want to thoroughly inspect the vehicle yourself.

Step 3 - Inspect the Interior

First, look at the car's interior as this can tell you a lot about the way the car was maintained. Check the condition of the seat covers and the ceiling of the vehicle. Check to make sure that all accessories and devices work as they should.

Step 4 - Inspect the Exterior
Next, you should expect inspect the exterior of the vehicle. Check the paint and look for signs that may indicate it has recently been painted. Also check the wheel wells for signs of rust. Check the bumpers and the lower parts of the vehicle, and check for signs of rust, dents or body filler. Make sure that you check the entire exterior of the vehicle thoroughly. If you find signs of dents or body filler, make sure that the seller adequately explains why those are present.

Step 5 - Inspect the Engine
Lift the hood on the car, and then check to see the engine's overall cleanliness. Look for signs of rust on the exhaust manifold or any oil leaks that may be present. Also, check the oil on the dipstick by rubbing the dipstick against your thumb or finger. If it feels like there are small particles or grit in the oil, then the engine may have serious problems.

Step 6 - Start the Engine

Try to start the engine. It should start immediately.

Step 7 - Take a Test Drive

Test drives the vehicle thoroughly, don't just drive it around the block. Drive it on busy streets to gauge the quality of the brakes, and if possible, take it on the highway to check the acceleration and power of the vehicle.

Step 8 - Check the Transmission

Next, check the transmission for any problems or slippage. The way to do this is to set the emergency brake, and then work your way through the gears. There shouldn't be any strange noises and the gears should change smoothly and without friction.

Step 9 - Inspect the Lights

Make sure all of the lights work - both in the front and the back. At this time, also check windshield wipers, turn and any other accessory devices you may not have yet tested.

Step 10 - Check Maintenance Records
Ask the seller or dealer to provide you with any maintenance records they may have and make sure you inspect them thoroughly.

Step 11 - Use a Mechanic
If the car passes your initial personal inspection, and you think that vehicle may be okay, then inform the seller you would like a qualified mechanic to take a look at it. Although the vehicle may appear to be in good running condition, a mechanic can quickly spot potential problems you may not be aware of. Therefore, it is always important to have a mechanic inspect any used vehicle you may be thinking of buying - especially a leased vehicle.

Related Questions and Answers

Can I Lease a Vehicle for 6 Months?

You can easily lease a car for 6 months. There are several websites that have deals for one month, to five months, to three years. You can pick and choose the right time period that you like. You will not get new cars for short leases though, as they will be available for 24 hours or more only. It's a far better idea to get short term leases or lease transfers from owners who want to terminate their leases earlier. This way you will not have to pay a deposit or pay for any excessive mileage in the short lease time. Try or, where you will find leases of different time periods put up by owners for a trade.

How Long is a VIN Number?

If you are wondering, "How long is a VIN number?", here is a quick definition of what the number entails. There are seventeen digits in total. With the first three digits (1, 2, 3) indicating the World Manufacturer Identifier or the company which made the car. The next six (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) digits indicate the vehicle characteristics or description. The next number (10) indicates the Model year of the car you have chosen. The next number (11) indicates the plant code where the car was made. The 12th, 13th and 14th number indicates the manufacturer identifier, and 15th, 16th and 17th number indicating the sequential numbers. Take a look at the following link here to get more information on VIN numbers.

On Average How Much Does it Cost to Track a VIN Number?

You can a track a VIN number pretty easily with online resources. There are free websites where you will be able to get a partial Vehicle Identification Number Report for free. Try websites like or Motor Vehicles and to get limited free reports. But if you want a complete list of information, it's a good idea to get a complete detailed VIN report from paid sites like CARFAX and AutoCheck. An average VIN report will cost about $25-$45 depending on the details you require. You can get limited free reports from sites and then get a detailed paid reports too from paid sites. Please ensure that you check any car you plan to buy by running the VIN number through a detailed report.

Can I Get the Engine Size on a VIN Number?

The VIN number engine size indicator is easy to identify. Just lift your car hood and find the VIN number that is stenciled on the car interior and engine. The VIN number is also listed on the dashboard at the bottom of the driver's side windshield. You can then put in the VIN number on free VIN searches that will give you the car details. You can use search engines like CARQUEST to get a detailed report. The eighth digit usually indicates the engine size, but you can also use the free VIN decoder sites to get the right size references. If you have a branded car like FORD, then you can also check with the original car manufacturer site which will give you the car number for free.


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