The used car market can be a whole new world compared to buying new. But rest assured, once you know what to look for when buying a used car, the process gets a whole lot easier.
What things should you look for when buying a used car? Take a look at this comprehensive used car checklist to find out.
Buying a Used Car Checklist
- Check for a clean car history
- Check the seller has a verified identit
- Check that the exterior has been well maintained
- Check the interior is in good condition
- Check that the car drives well
- Check that it gets a mechanic’s seal of approval
- Check that you can get a service contract
- Check that you can get affordable auto insurance
Check for a Clean Car History
Start by looking up the VIN number to see that it matches up with the VIN information in the vehicle title records. The VIN will also tell you if there have been any safety recalls on the vehicle.
Follow up with a vehicle history report. The vehicle history report can reveal title problems, ownership history, service records, and any reported previous accidents.
Check the Seller Has a Verified Identity
Check That the Exterior Has Been Well Maintained
Body conditionAre there any scratches or dents? Minor scratches and dents are unlikely to cause too many problems. But deep scratches and significant dents are unsightly and do affect the value of a vehicle.
LightsDo the lights all work as they should? Ask the seller to put the car into reverse, put their foot on the brake, and turn on the headlights so you can check that all of the car’s lights are in proper working order.
The US Department of Transportation recommends replacing tires when the tread reaches 2/32”. Check out the tread depth on all tires so you get an idea of how soon you’ll need new ones. Also check the overall physical condition of the tires: do they have any bubbles or dry rotting between the treads?
Leaks or stains under car
Don’t just look at the car itself. Look at the road underneath the car too. Use a flashlight if necessary. If you see any leaks, puddles, or stains, you need to take a closer look.
Found a puddle of clear water? There’s probably no need to worry. This is almost certainly just condensation from the air conditioner.
However, if the puddle has a colored tinge to it, this may be a sign of a more serious problem.
The car could be leaking fuel, oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, or coolant. And all of these leaks require the attention of a trained auto mechanic.
Confirm that the interior is in good conditionWondering what interior features to check when buying a used car? Be sure to look out for the following.
Give the car a good sniff to see if there are any distinctive odors inside. Cigarette smoke, pets, spilled food, and even the rainwater that came in through an open car window can all create unpleasant smells inside a vehicle — and all are difficult to remove.
SeatsTake a look at the seats and the upholstery. Are there any tears or marks? Check that all seatbelts fasten properly, too.
Infotainment & speakersSwitch on the infotainment system, play around with any GPS features, and turn on the radio to see that the sound system operates properly.
Check That the Car Drives Well
- Look to see whether any dashboard warning lights appear as you switch on the ignition
- Drive with the stereo off so you can listen to the car
- Drive at city and highway speeds
- Drive along a bumpy road and listen out for rattles or squeaks
- Check that you can drive the car in a straight line
- Check that the brakes work properly and don’t make any worrying noises
- Drive for at least 15 minutes if possible
Check that it gets a mechanic’s seal of approval
Don’t know your gasket from your crankshaft? Then letting a trained auto mechanic take a look at the car is a good idea.
Ask the seller whether you can get the car inspected at an auto shop of your choice to find out whether there are any underlying issues with the vehicle.
At Motobyo, a certified, independent, third-party used car inspection comes as standard.
Check That You Can Get Service Contract
However confident you are in a used car, having a quality extended service contract offers extra peace of mind.
With a service contract (commonly referred to as an “extended warranty”) in place, you know that if the vehicle experiences any covered mechanical breakdowns during the specified time period, you don’t have to pay out of pocket for costly repairs.