What's The Biggest Used Car Warning Sign?

Illustration for article titled What's The Biggest Used Car Warning Sign?

A new car is not for everyone. It may be a matter of taste or circumstance, but sometimes a trip to the used lot or through Craigslist-land is necessary. A preowned ride naturally deserves serious purchaser diligence and concern, but some things stand out as causes for concern. What's the scariest warning sign for a used-car shopper?

This isn't about things to ask a seller — this is about things that don't need to be asked, or for which you simply cannot expect an honest answer. A classic red flag? A lack of any maintenance records at all. Any car, even the most ultra-reliable late-Eighties Honda, will require professional care for standard replacement items like brake pads and CV joints. If there's no record of work being done, then in all likelihood the work was never done and you're looking at a potential financial bomb.


(QOTD is your chance to address the day's most pressing automotive questions and to experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits, and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good Question of the Day, send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

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ThirdPedalGirl, ///Mother of one.

Green coolant in an alloy-engined car.

<—This stuff is our Saab's new best friend. From what I gather, plenty of Audi, VW, BMWs and Mercedes Benz cars also need specialty coolant. Pink/red or blue, depending on age of car and manufacturer's specs. After a fair amount of reading and replacing the thermostat on our Saab twice, husband and I will no longer buy a car without checking the color of the coolant, and if it's the wrong kind, adjusting our offer price to accommodate at least a new water pump and thermostat.