Top 7 Most Common Used Car Problems and Issues

When it comes to buying a car, some people are looking for more affordable options. One such option is the popular Suzuki Swift that can be purchased and still maintain its value as well!. There is a huge price difference between brand new and used cars, and this is typically the major deciding factor for many.

You can only save money on a used car if you are getting something with no major flaws that require expensive repairs or parts replacement. Nobody unexpectedly wants a car in a repair shop shortly after bringing it home.

You need to be extra cautious when buying a used car to avoid spending more before you can even enjoy your ride. With that in mind, check these seven more common car problems so you will know how to spot them.

mechanic wearing gloves open car hood checking car engine oil on the road after car breakdown problem.Young man maintenance, fixing trouble car accident repair at garage workshop.

·       Alternator problems

The alternator is a small part that you can find in every car’s charging system. It is powered by a crankshaft and it plays a significant role in the operation of the car.

It is the alternator that powers the battery, air conditioning, dash and other essential components of the vehicle. And because this part is very important, replacing it is a bit pricey.

When inspecting your car, take a look and inspect the lights and brightness on the dash. If the brightest setting does not appear to be bright, then you can expect that the alternator is on its way out.

·       Air conditioning not cooling

Imagine driving your car in the summer months in the middle of heavy traffic in Bangkok and without air-conditioning. The heat will drive you crazy.

Like any other part of a car, the air conditioning unit could also wear out over time. And if it isn’t working, it requires repair which is anything but cheap.

So you want to make sure that the air conditioning unit of the used car you are buying is still working. To do this, make sure to turn on the air conditioner during your physical inspection and test drive. Try to set it at the coldest temperature and see if it delivers, and see if the air is consistent inside the whole vehicle.

If the temperature inside the car did not cool down for you, or you find a lack of blowing air from the AC vents, then there must be something wrong with the system.

·       Sensors not working properly

Motor and electrical sensor problems are also common among used cars. Different car models use different types of sensors that might sometimes need to be replaced. One way to check if all the sensors are working is to check the dash system when you switch the car to Ignition before starting the engine. If there is a sensor indicator that is not lit when you know it should during the ignition check, or if the fuel gauge is not working, it can be a sign of a sensor problem. But if you see a warning sensor indicator that is still lit after the car has started, it indicates a problem with that particular system.

·       Electrical connections

If you are looking at a used moden car, be prepared to experience electrical issues. Modern cars use advanced electrical systems that are already integrated in the car. These electrical systems include control of the vehicle’s infotainment system, driver assist functions such as forward collision detection and lane departure warning, apart from standard functions and power features of the car. Common electrical problems involve a faulty connection to the battery or the battery itself. This is usually the case if the vehicle was subjected to flooding, causing water damage to the car’s electrical and other systems.

Other more serious electrical problems may affect your ability to control the computer system that is connected to the automatic features of the car.

It can be hard to detect electrical connection issues, so if you aren’t confident at checking it, bring in your trusted mechanic to give the assessment.

·       Issues involving the gearbox

The gearbox is also another common source of problems in used cars. Both manual and automatic transmissions can experience significant wear and tear on the gearbox.

When driving a car that is likely going to get lots of urban miles, make sure there isn’t any slippage or notchiness from the clutch. A problem here ( quite common in a used Maza 2 for example ) indicates abuse and huge repair bills could await you in its future ownership if this continues! Repairs of the gearbox are costly, so much more if you need a replacement.

There are red flags that will help you identify any gearbox problem including:

  • Difficulty in changing gears
  • Burning smell when you drive the car
  • Significant noise and vibrations
  • Oil leakage

You may be able to catch more if not all these signs of gearbox problems during your test drive.

·       Dents and scratches

Dents and scratches are common among used cars, and if it is just minor, there is nothing to be worried about. However, what you need to watch out for is when the car has been repainted as this is the usual way of previous owners to cover up a more serious damage.

Feel the inside of the car door’s edge and check whether the edge of the door has a rough or smooth finish. Overspraying to cover up something typically causes a rough finish.

You may also consider using an automotive paint meter. This helps you easily detect any hidden rework on the car which may be caused by impact damage.

·       Engine problems

Finally, the engine itself can be a major source of frustration and headache for a used car owner. Engine repairs and major overhaul are also expensive, and more so with an engine replacement.

Some of the minor engine problems can be solved by replacing piston heads, spark plugs and timing belts, among others. This is normal even for newer cars. However, what you want to avoid is getting a car with a major engine issue.

During your test drive, if the engine will not easily start, or if it easily dies, it could be a sign of engine trouble.


Now that you know the most common used car problems, you can be more vigilant in checking the next used car you are interested in buying.

Getting a car with major issues can lead to expensive repairs. And sometimes, the amount you saved on your initial purchase from the original seller is not enough to cover the cost of your subsequent repairs. This situation can be stressful.

To ensure you are getting a car in the condition you expected it to be, make sure to do a test drive, not just once but a few times before buying it. During the test drive, be extra observant so that you can easily detect any issue with the used car.

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