Buying any used vehicle can be scary; buying a used 4x4 comes with an extra set of concerns. These are vehicles that some people literally take pleasure in destroying. Often times the suspension will be shot, bumpers barely hanging on, exhaust dented, undercarriage scratched, and something's living in the air filter. If you’re inexperienced, then take the time to do your research online; YouTube and online forums are a great place to start. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a local garage for a thorough inspection; at the very least, you should bring a mechanically inclined friend.
The second a vehicle leaves the lot, its value plummets, allowing you to find a cheaper vehicle and put the money you saved towards performance and aesthetic upgrades. The first step is to establish your priorities. Maybe you have your heart set on a Jeep but you also want some of the modern luxuries. Jeep’s hold their value very well - so would you rather save a few grand for a nice set of matching bumpers or go with the 2013 Wrangler with GPS? In a perfect world, you’d probably search for Wranglers with the upgrades you had in mind, but don’t fall for traps. Not all modifications are upgrades.
Check Out Current Upgrades
When evaluating aftermarket parts already present on a used vehicle, it’s very important to know what you’re looking at. Does the seller seem knowledgeable? Do you trust his work? Do you trust the products he chose? Would you have chosen higher caliber upgrades such as steel bumpers? Does he have receipts from professional installations at reputable offroading garages? It’s impossible to be sure how well the vehicle responds to those “upgrades” without a long, calculated, test drive.
You Gotta Test Drive It!
Never buy a vehicle you can’t test drive. Your test drive should take half an hour at a bare minimum. The vehicle should be tested at all speeds: on the highway, around town, and offroad if possible. I’ve even ridden shotgun as a previous owner gave me tips for adjusting to my new Ford truck on dirt. It’s worth asking for - who doesn’t love showing off their work with a nice goodbye ride?
If you do take your prospective new vehicle to the garage for inspection, make sure to ask for an estimate on work needed. It can really help in your decision. The final tip I’ll leave you with is patience. Don’t pull the trigger too fast - wait until you’re completely satisfied. New vehicles show up online every day; nothing hurts more than watching your dream vehicle surface at an ideal price the day after you settled for less. Don’t let your eagerness to get going on adding some great steel bumpers get the best of you. When you find the right ride, you’ll be glad you waited!