How To Check out a Used Car Before Buying It

It can feel overwhelming to purchase a used car, with so many things to consider.It doesn’t have to feel that way.Before buying a used car, make sure to check the exterior, interior, and underneath the hood for any problems.You can take the car for a test drive to see how it handles.Before making a final decision, check the vehicle’s history and negotiate a reasonable price.

Step 1: Before checking out the car, park it on level ground.

If you inspect the car on even ground, you can see if anything is out of line.It makes it easier to check the state of the tires.Turn the front wheels to the left to make the vehicle less likely to move.

Step 2: Rust spots, dents, and scratches can be found in the paint job.

The paint is visible if the car is clean.Look at the sides of the car for signs of a bad paint job.Run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels to see if there is any leftover masking tape.Rust, scratches, and dents in the paint and body of the car can affect how much you pay for a car.

Step 3: Pop the trunk to make sure the car is in good shape.

It shouldn’t show any signs of rust or water damage.Look for cracks, holes, and other signs of wear and tear in the trunk.The trunk should be easy to open and close.There could be some damage that is not real.The integrity of the trunk could be affected by serious rust, cracks, or holes.

Step 4: The tires should be checked for wear.

The tires should match.Look at the tire’s surface for signs of a bad alignment.Poor alignment can be caused by worn steering/suspension components or frame damage.It’s a driving hazard if the alignment or tires don’t have much tread.

Step 5: Rust and damage can be found in the exhaust system and the undercarriage.

Black spots on the exhaust system can be a sign of leaking.Take some time to inspect the frame.If you see rust, that doesn’t mean you should buy the car.The price that you pay could be affected by wear and tear.The exhaust is at greater risk of giving out if there is a lot of rust that includes small cracks or holes.Major red flags include dents or cracks in the exhaust system.Unless you are prepared to pay for repairs, don’t buy a vehicle with exhaust damage.

Step 6: Cars with frame damage can be avoided.

The life expectancy of a used car is greatly affected by frame damage.Check the underside to make sure it connects the front fender and holds the top of the engine.It can be welded or bolted in.There are bolts at the top of the hood.A damaged or repaired frame is more likely to break down sooner than a undamaged frame.There are scratch marks that could indicate that the fenders have been replaced or realigned.

Step 7: Look for signs of damage when you open the hood of the car.

When the engine is cool, check under the hood for dents, cracks, rust, and any obvious signs of damage.There are a number of signs that the car is damaged or unsafe to drive.Check that the hood of the car is open.To make it easy to access, open and close the hood.

Step 8: The hoses and belts need to be inspected for damage.

There shouldn’t be any obvious signs of wear.The timing belt can be costly to replace.The hoses should not be soft.It can be expensive to replace worn or damaged belts.

Step 9: The engine should be checked.

There are dark brown oil stains on the engine block.A leak in a gasket could lead to an expensive repair in the future.Make sure the fluid levels are not empty.Ask the seller why the fluid holding tanks are empty.It could be a sign of a leak.Unless you are willing to pay for repairs, you don’t want to buy a car with a fluid leak.

Step 10: The oil cap needs to be removed.

There is an oil can on the top of the engine.There is a foam on the inside.A head gasket is an expensive repair.Don’t drive a car with a damaged gasket.If you want to replace the cap, make sure you put it back on.

Step 11: The dipstick should be pulled to check the fluid.

The ring at the end of the dipstick can be used to check the transmission fluid.The fluid should be red or pink.Even though the engine is running, it should be full of fluid.The smell of burnt fluid could be a sign of a leak or a damaged transmission.If the seller didn’t tell you about transmission issues, it’s a red flag.Before you buy a car, you may want to have a qualified mechanic look at it.The transmission fluid in an older car should not smell burnt.

Step 12: You can sit inside the car.

It’s important that you like sitting in the vehicle.Check the seats and upholstery for any damage.The seats need to be adjusted and functional.

Step 13: Make sure the air-conditioning is working.

Turn on the heat and the cold to test the temperature control.The fan speed should be turned on high and low to make sure it’s working.

Step 14: Ask the seller or dealer when the freon was last filled.

The air-conditioner uses freon to blow cold air.Since you are looking at a used car, it is possible that the freon levels are low.Asking the seller of the car if they will refill it in the near future will give you an indication of whether or not you will have to pay.Do you know if the freon leaks or has any issues?The last time a car was added to the list should be in the history report.

Step 15: The mileage is calculated by checking the car’s odometer.

There is a number on the dashboard.The mileage indicates the car’s age.A normal driver will drive between 10,000 and 15,000 miles a year.Cars age by their mileage too.Buying a 10-year-old car with low mileage doesn’t mean it’s in good shape.If the car is older and has low mileage, ask the seller what it was used for.For example, if the car was used by a grandmother who only used it to get groceries every other week, it is likely to have less wear and tear than a car that was previously owned by someone who liked to drive fast.

Step 16: Find out if the car has a computer.

A computer code reader can be used to check for errors.The code reader can be found beneath the steering wheel or on the dash.Code readers can be purchased at auto supply stores.When you press the start button or turn the key in a car with an onboard computer, make sure you pay attention to the warnings on the screen.

Step 17: The indicator and display lights need to be verified.

Check that the turn signals and hazard warning lights are working.If the car has a rear-view camera, make sure it works.If they work from the outside of the vehicle, ask the seller to turn them on.

Step 18: If you want to make final decisions, test drive the car.

This is a great way to know the condition of the car.Before making any decisions, a buyer should do a test drive.You can ask the seller questions about the vehicle while you drive it, and they are not worried about you driving off with the car.

Step 19: Press the brakes to make sure they are working correctly.

To decelerate quickly, press down hard on the brakes.It is possible to go around 30 mph (48 km/h) in an area without traffic.You should not hear any noises from the brake pedal.The need for the rotors to be resurfaced or replaced is indicated by the pulsate of the brakes.When you press the brakes, the car should not move.This can be caused by worn steering components or a bad brake caliper.

Step 20: At different speeds, check for small concerns.

Wear at the direction of mechanical parts can be costly to repair if there is slight trepidation during a small speed interval.Uneven wear at the front tire may combine with this.When making a 90 degree turn, make sure to check for noises.

Step 21: Check the car’s history.

The performance, repairs, and problems of the car can be found in that information.The current owner would have kept a record of the times when the car needed servicing and should have been willing to show you this information.Sometimes used cars are sold because of accidents or bad experiences.Some cars don’t have maintenance records because they were maintained at home, but you can ask the seller if they have any receipts for repairs.Request the vehicle’s history from the salesperson or the person trying to sell you the car.

Step 22: Someone who knows cars should inspect the car.

It is a good idea to bring along a trusted friend who knows how to check things out.If you don’t have a trusted friend in the auto industry, you can pay a mechanic to do an inspection on it.If you think the car is a lemon, make sure the mechanic has good reviews.

Step 23: The price of the car can be negotiated.

If the quality of the vehicle is good, you can offer a price.It is important that the offer is reasonable.No matter how good that car is today, it is going to require maintenance in the future and will depreciate in value over time.If the dealer is asking $15,000, do not offer $10,000, which is an unreasonable counter-offer.If the car is over $10,000, try to negotiate a lower price.Kelley Blue Book is an industry standard pricing model.

Step 24: If you are buying from a private seller, you should document everything.

You should bring a pen, paper and cell phone.When inspecting the car, be sure to record all items that are damaged or need to be replaced.Some sellers may not sell to you because they think it’s rude.You need to be informed when making a decision.