6 Things to Inspect Before Buying a Used Car


If you are not financially ready to invest in a brand new car, you can always opt for a used one. Most likely, you will find a second-hand vehicle on an advertising webpage with a beautiful description and edited photos. Car owners often exaggerate both the vehicle’s condition and look to gain negotiation advantage on price. That’s why it is always recommended to see a car in person. Better yet, take it for a test drive.

Depending on whether you plan to buy a used vehicle from a private person or a dealer, there are six most important things to check before making a purchase.

Look at the Car’s Body

It is always important to first look at the exterior of a vehicle to determine its overall condition. Be attentive to rust, as it is a sign of bad maintenance and neglect. Also, check for dents or scratches. Check if it has a sun-roof. If yes, make sure that there are no leaks.

Inspecting the paint and coloring will help you determine if it has been repainted or not. You should avoid buying a used car that has been repainted because some components may have been replaced after the paint job. It will be hard to tell if the parts are original or not. The team at John Charles motors can help you find quality used cars.

Interior Inspection

The interior of a used car is one of the most important things to inspect. When looking inside, check for rips and stains on seats, cracks on dashboards, and also for broken dials or buttons on stereo systems. It is recommended that you take a seat in the back to see if there are any stains or rips. Check if the windows operate correctly. There should be no strange sounds or unusual smells when the engine starts up, such as gasoline or burning smell, indicating poor maintenance.

Another thing is ensuring the OBD (on-board diagnostic system) works as it should. For that, we recommend using a special OBD scanner. For more information on that, visit https://obd2pros.com/scanners/.

Take a Look Under the Hood

The most important thing to look for when inspecting the engine is the oil level. If there is a lot of oil on top of the valve cover, it might mean that the owner had an issue with engine leakage and tried to fix it by adding oil. Apart from checking the oil level, see if there is any dust and dirt, which means that it hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Also, check whether all belts and hoses are attached properly.

Mechanical Inspection

Any rattling or unusual sounds coming from under the hood indicate worn-out parts or problems with electrical connections. The first test drive is essential and will give you a better idea about how to inspect a used car. During that time, you should make sure that all gauges on the dashboard work fine and that no leaks are coming from any of the hoses.

A mechanic can also perform an inspection prior to your purchase of a used vehicle and help you determine its overall condition. However, if you plan to buy a used car from a private person who doesn’t want to spend money on such an inspection, do it yourself by following these tips:

  • Check brakes: Push down on both pedals while the car is stopped to see if they are responsive and firm;
  • Check steering wheel: Turn left and right while parked;
  • Check windshield wipers: Pull the lever down and watch for squeaking;
  • Test heater and air conditioner: Turn it up high at different speeds;
  • Check horn: Push firmly on horn button;
  • Check headlights and taillights: Make sure they work properly;
  • Check all lights: Turn them on and off to see if they are working well;
  • Make sure doors open and close properly;
  • Ensure windows roll up and down easily;

Make Sure All Components are Original

If you are buying a used car from a private person, you should make sure that all components of the vehicle are original. You can do this by taking pictures of all components and comparing them with the photos found online. These will help you determine whether the owner has replaced parts or not. You should also pay attention to rust on metal parts, dents, and scratches, and faded paint. This will help you determine whether the car has been repainted or not.

Check for Past Accident Records

If you want to buy a used car from a private person, you should always ask for its accident history report. This report will tell you how many accidents it has been involved in, how severe they were, how many claims have been filed, and whether it has ever been declared a total loss. The report will also reveal other issues such as whether there is an open recall, or if it needs further repairs.

Final Note

Inspecting a car before buying it sounds obvious. However, many people still neglect its importance, only to discover later that their new vehicle is a piece of junk. To ensure that never happens to you, we highly recommend following all our above recommendations.

Take a look at the car’s exterior, interior, and engine. When going on a test drive, check whether all components work correctly and that the vehicle drives smoothly. Finally, check whether the seller has all the necessary documentation, including insurance and past accident records.


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