Checks You Must Do When Buying A Used Car

Buying a used car is a double-edged sword. You can find a vehicle that is well-preserved, just a couple of years old and with excellent track record. However, on the other hand, there are vehicles that aren’t maintained and just after 4-5 years, they begin to deteriorate, requiring multiple fixes.

The condition of a used car doesn’t depend on the owner solely. It also depends on the model of the vehicle and how it is built. Some models are more durable than others. Also, there are cars which face some engine problems, while some other 4-wheelers may experience problems with the displays or the infotainment systems after a couple of years.

Buying a new car is the best option and yet a lot of people are hunting for vehicles that are 2-3 years old. They are “just as new” with one major difference – the price is much lower. And the older the vehicle gets, the more it loses value and the more potential problems it has.

If you are buying a used car, you want to go for the best option for you – don’t focus too much on a model (unless you have a favorite) and instead see what the condition of the car is. But what are the things to look for when buying a used vehicle?

Vehicle History

One of the first things that you need to check is the vehicle history and you can do so with the VIN number. This will show you if the car has been in an accident or not and whether the model has been recalled. You can perform a VIN check online and quickly see the state of the car that you intent to buy.

Usually, had the car suffered any major accidents, people avoid it because it can have some potential problems down the line. Minor bumps are sometimes alright for used cars and it is up to you to estimate if the car’s good for you.

Buy from trusted Dealerships

Hunting used cars can be difficult and you can visit some dealerships near by to see what they have on offer. According to DiscoveryAutoGroup, buyers come from all over the country and usually look for cars that are 2-3 years old.

With dealerships, you get a good service and everything is transparent. The used cars may cost a tiny bit more than they would if you purchased them directly from someone else, but you can rest assured that everything is in order.

Rust or Paint Damage

If the vehicle is older, you might notice some paint damage or rust. Rust can usually be found underneath the car and need the tires, along the edges, etc. If there’s some visible rust, there might be more lurking beneath, but that’s something that cannot be spotted that easily.

As for paint damage, look for things such as different paint coloring, or thicker layers of paint. What this indicates is that the vehicle may have participated in the accident and that the parts had to be fixed and resprayed. Look around the car and at different angles. For other parts of potential impact, check the lines of the vehicle between doors, trunk, etc. If they’re completely straight, then it is probably all good.

Under the Hood

The engine is the most important part of the vehicle and this should be your primary concern. For example, if the seatbelt isn’t functioning, that’s something you can fix. You can always put new tires, replace the breaks or fix your interior.

What you should look for when you open the hood are potential fluid leaks, corrosion and cracked hoes and belts. This is something even the untrained eye can spot easily. You don’t need to know everything about the engine to notice these things. However, they may indicate that something is wrong.

Make sure you start a car for a few times and push the accelerator to hear the sound of the engine. If it isn’t smooth, there might be something clogged or not working as it should. The diesel engines are different from the gasoline engines and the sound is also way different.


Tires can be replaced, but this is also something to check out. All four tires should match and even if they are worn out, they should be worn out evenly. If one of the tires suffered some extra damage, it may indicate the problem with the alignment, which can further uncover some steering, suspension or frame issues. This isn’t a difficult fix, but just one more thing to pay attention to when buying a used car.

Interior and electronics

Last but not least, you should also enter the cabin to see what’s going on inside the car. The things you want to pay attention to are steering wheel, upholstery, the electronics, switches, air condition, etc.

Don’t be afraid to press all the things and see if everything is functioning properly and there aren’t any problems with the display if the car has one. Also, open the windows, turn on the wipers and check the steering wheel.

When it comes to upholstery, look for any wear and tear, stains and cracked leather. It is normal to find some tears or scratches in a used car, but upholstery can be expensive to repair, so this is something to consider as well.

Test Drive

Whenever possible, go for a test drive. Usually, sellers allow people to go for a drive because you can determine if the car is for you or not. Also, when driving you can notice if everything is alright with the steering, the engine and how the car responds to acceleration and breaks. If you can, test it out in the city and go outside where you can speed up more to see how the car runs.

Look for the blind spots when parking and see what may be the issue with the car that you are trying out.


Buying a used car is a process and it requires patience. Find several models that you love and go see them and test them. Follow your gut feeling and once you find the perfect car for you, you will know it!