Exterior maintenance

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Updated: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm Published: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm

When you're shopping around for a pre-owned vehicle, pay close attention to the condition of the exterior. You should always inspect the car in daylight and preferably not in the rain. Generally speaking, a vehicle that's been maintained carefully on the outside will often have been given the same care and attention on the inside, although you should be careful of the unscrupulous dealer who may have simply given the vehicle a coat of polish and neglected other more serious maintenance measures. Check carefully for signs that any parts of the vehicle that have been repainted as this may have been done to conceal bodywork to repair accident damage. Look at the underside of the vehicle, which can often give a clearer picture of its true condition than an odometer reading or superficially polished paintwork. The tires on a pre-owned vehicle can sometimes reveal hidden mechanical problems. Uneven tire wear, for example, may be an indication that the car's steering or suspension systems have been damaged. Check details such as rear power windows, which can sometimes require maintenance. In older vehicles, rubber door seals may have become worn or damaged, and this can lead to problems later with water leakage or noise. Check for any dents or damage to the exterior of the car, including bumpers and hubcaps, and don't forget to inspect areas such as door bottoms, wheel wells and inside the trunk for any evidence of damage or rust. If you're thinking of buying a convertible, be sure to raise and lower the top to check for damage or leaks.

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