Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Buying Used

It is a well-established fact that I love gear. In fact, most humans have a love for objects, because at heart we're tool-using animals. However, living on a budget makes buying the new shiny things difficult. Buying used gear can be a great way to save money, but you have to be better prepared than if you're buying new.

The first key to buying used is to do your homework. Know the product features you need and expect to see beforehand.  Know common failure points and how to check them. While researching your potential purchase, note any routine maintenance that is recommended, and be prepared to perform this right away.

Some items that are commonly purchased used have specific things to look for.

Vehicles are probably the most common item that people buy used because they're expensive and have a substantial drop in price after even a year of use. They also have a wide checklist of things to look at:
  • Check body panels for paint that is a slightly different color, or inconsistent gaps between body panels. These things can indicate that the vehicle was wrecked. Rust is another obvious red flag.
  • Start the engine, let it get to operating temperature, and listen for metallic noises, sharp clicks, or other odd sounds. 
  • Test all of the buttons inside the car. Make sure everything operates correctly.
  • During the test drive, note if the car shimmies, hops, or pulls to one side. Also note any noise or vibration during braking. All of these things indicate problems that will need to be addressed.

Used clothing can be a great way to save money, especially if you're buying clothing you expect to outgrow quickly or is subject to being damaged. Check seams, buttons, and zippers for wear and proper function, and look for stains.

Tools are both necessary and expensive, and purchasing tools secondhand is a great way to get what you need for bargain prices.
  • Check for chips, cracks, or bent parts. 
  • Make sure that the handles are smooth and in good repair.
  • Make sure that the body of the tool is in good condition, with no cracks or breaks. 
  • Ensure that cords have all prongs solidly in place and there is no damage to the plug or the cord itself.
  • Pay attention to the condition of power tool batteries. Test all batteries in the tool if possible.
  • Plug in the charger with a battery on it, to make sure that it functions as well.

Firearms are another expensive item with a bustling used market. Other folks have written far more comprehensive checklists than I could for both revolvers and pistols, and used long guns follow the same basic guidelines:
  • Screw heads should not be damaged.
  • Finish should be even and in decent shape.
  • Action should cycle smoothly. 
  • Be sure the gun is also chambered in a caliber that you can still get ammunition for. A great price is no deal on a weapon you can't feed.

With a little research, you can save a lot of money and still have all the gear you could need.


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