How to Check out a Used Car Before Buying It

Looking to buy a used car? If so, you'd better do your due diligence. Failure to inspect a used car before buying it could come back to bite you in the long-run.

Wondering what kinds of things to check when buying a used car? If so, you're in the right place. We're going to get into the specifics of the inspection process below.

Assess the Exterior

The first thing you'll want to do when checking out a used car is to assess its exterior. Keep an eye out for scratched paint, dents, and other such issues. If there's rust present, know that it will get worse over time.

You'll also want to inspect the vehicle's windows, ensuring that there are no cracks or chips. While small chips aren't a dealbreaker, they should enable you to negotiate lower on price.

Wheels should be inspected as well. If the tire tread is low, you might have to make a change within a few months. This could set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Lastly, turn on the vehicle and take a look at the lights. Make sure that they're shining brightly and that they're evenly lit. Then, have someone apply the brakes for you so that you can check out the brake lights as well.

Scrutinize the Interior

Next, you're going to want to scrutinize the interior of the vehicle. This includes inspecting everything from the upholstery, to the sound system, to the control console, to the pedals, and otherwise.

Make sure that there are no strange odors present. Stains could be a dealbreaker as well. You'll also want to test the seatbelts, ensuring that they all operate as intended.

Next, take a look at the dashboard, ensuring that all of the warning lights pop up when you turn on the vehicle. Assess the interior lighting as well, making sure that it works and works well.

Lastly, sit in all of the seats to ensure that they're comfortable and functional. This is necessary to ensure that they fold, slide, and maneuver in the proper manner.

Check the Undercarriage of the Vehicle

Next, you should get under the car so that you can inspect its undercarriage. This will allow you to catch any damage which might be present.

General bad signs to look out for include dents and rust. If these signs exist, you should look elsewhere.

Pay special attention to the tailpipe, ensuring that it's producing a dark gray residue. If it's producing a dark black residue, an exhaust repair might be needed.

Look Under the Hood

As you might expect, you should take a good, long look under the hood as well. The majority of a vehicle's components exist under the hood and are a great indication of a vehicle's value.

First, assess the belts, ensuring that they're soft and smushy. If they're brittle and hard, they're deteriorated and will need to be replaced soon.

Then, check all of the fluids, making sure that they're at the right levels and that they possess the appropriate colors. If they're not or if they don't, the vehicle could have mechanical issues. Note, however, that the fluids might just need a change as well.

It's also a good idea to check the battery for power. You want to make sure that it's relatively full, and that it won't give up on you within a few months of buying the vehicle.

Take It for a Test Drive

If you're satisfied with the vehicle's many components, you can give it a test drive. During the drive, you should be assessing everything from its acceleration to its brake-ability to your vantage point.

Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable driving it. Think about driving in it to work every day. Does it feel "right" to you?

If you have even the slightest reservation about something while driving it, you might want to peruse other vehicles. After all, there's no shortage of used vehicles for you to peruse. Take a look at this dealership's inventory, for instance.

Read Up

It doesn't matter how impeccable it looks or how well it drove, you still need to read up on the vehicle that you're planning to buy. This way, you can determine whether or not its specific make and model has had any issues.

There are plenty of places to look for such information. J.D. Power provides awards and reliability ratings for all major vehicles. Consumer Reports provides reliability reports as well.

You might also consider visiting auto forums and asking whether or not your prospective model of vehicle has any notable problems. The frequenters of these forums are almost sure to have the inside scoop.

Bring It to an Independent Repair Shop

Finally, you need to take your prospective vehicle to a repair shop, particularly one that's independent of the dealer from which you're buying. A professional and unbiased inspection will be needed to determine whether or not the car has any mechanical problems. If your mechanic gives you the green light, you're ready to make the purchase.

Note, an inspection of this type will generally cost around $100. However, it can save you thousands in the long-run. Not to mention, it will give you some peace of mind.

There are Many Things to Check When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car is always a risky prospect. For all you know, the vehicle you're looking at could be a complete junker. The only way to ensure that it's not is to give it a thorough inspection.

Yes, there are many things to check when buying a used car. But at the end of the day, you and your bank account will be happy you checked them.

Looking for more car-centric information? has all the information you need, including everything from car technology to car reviews and more. Take a look at our other articles now!

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Lucas Knight

Over the past 10 years, Lucas Knight has been a motorcycle rider. He has built up an incredible passion for travelling by motorbike and always wishes to contribute to motorcyclist community. This is the reason why he created where his passion is turned into useful and interesting information to the motorcycle lover. Follow his facebook and twitter or subcribe to his website to receive more useful information in motorcycle world.

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