Buying a Used Car Guide


Do Your Research
It’s important you do your research before going to inspect any car. Find out through forums and online blog posts about any common issues the vehicle you’re going to inspect has. If it’s been recalled by the manufacturer at any point. Or if any major service is due after accumulating a particular set of miles.
Examine the body and paintwork for any signs of major scratches, or dents that could indicate the vehicle has been in an accident.
Check for any signs of rust, especially in the door jams or behind the weather sealing and underneath the vehicle. Particularly around the exhaust area.
Ensure the panel gaps are consistent throughout the vehicle. Analyze the paint for any imperfections such as differences in color or extensive oxidization.
Examine if the tires still have a decent amount of tread on them and aren’t more than five to seven years old at the most. Make sure they are all the same make as well
Lookout for any chips or cracks within the windshield, side mirror, and windows.
Make sure all the lights, wipers, and fog lights are functioning properly.
Lift up the carpets and inspect for any signs of rust or holes within the floor of the vehicle. Ensure the carpets aren’t wet or even slightly damp.
No warning lights should be visible in the instrument cluster after startup. If possible, plug a scanner into the OBD2 port of the vehicle and scan for any error codes.
Do a thorough dive into all the electronics and switch gear of the vehicle. From the sound system, down to the defroster buttons to ensure everything is working up to spec.
Examine for any signs of discoloration, cracked leather, or sun-damage on the interior panels and the seats.
The headliner shouldn’t be sagging and there should be no weird smells within the interior. An odd smell could indicate mold or an even bigger problem.
Engine & Suspension
Rev the vehicle from cold and listen out for any rattles or hard knocks.
Ensure all fluids are properly topped off and in good condition.
Inspect for any signs of leaks, particularly around the oil pan, hoses, and brittle plastic components.
Keep an eye out for worn-down belts, hoses, and other brittle components.
Test Drive
Make sure to take a test drive and try to subject the vehicle to a number of different scenarios. This includes hard acceleration, heavy braking. Ensure they are no weird noises or rattles from the engine, exhaust, and suspension components.
Turn the wheel from lock to lock and listen out for signs of a failing power steering pump. Row through the gears if it’s a manual transmission or just look out for signs of a jerky or slow automatic transmission.
Once the engine has warmed up, rev the engine once again to listen for any loud knocks or rattles. A shaky engine or transmission could be a sign of a bad engine or transmission mount.