How to Check out a Used Car Before Buying It
Category: Automotive
Immigrate to Canada or Australia
Study In Abroad


If you are thinking about purchasing a used car, you know how confusing it can be. There are so many things to consider that it can be a daunting experience. This is even more true if you are considering buying a car for the first time. There are many things to look for when purchasing a used car but one important factor is to give the car a physical check before making your final decision. Here, then, are a few general pointers on how to physically check out a used car before you buy it.

Part 1  Checking the car's form

1.1 Make sure that the car is on level ground before checking it out. This is to ensure that you will be able to clearly

check the tires and to see if there is anything sagging on the car.

1.2 Carefully check the paint job of the car, taking note of any rust spots, dents or scratches. Look at the sides of the car from end-on for waviness; that indicates paint work. Run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels; roughness indicates residue left from masking tape.
1.3 Check the trunk of the car to make sure it is still in good condition. It should not show any sign of rust, or water entry due to cracks or holes. Wear inside of the trunk indicates usage of the car.
1.4 Check the tires. The tires should be worn evenly and they should match. Look at the surface of the tire for feathering (bad alignment). Bad alignment can be caused by worn steering/suspension components, the pothole down the street or frame damage. Also check the spare tire and compare the tread to the other tires if it is a full spare.
1.5 Never buy a frame damaged car. Check the saddle (connects the front fenders and holds the top of the radiator). It should not be welded on either side, it should be bolted in. Inspect the bolt heads at the top of the fenders inside the hood; scratch marks indicates that the fenders have been replaced or realigned (after a crash). Look for welds inside the door jambs.
1.6 If you are able, try to get under the car when it is safely raised and inspect the exhaust system or any under-body
rust. Look for any black spots on the exhaust system because this can indicate leaking. This is also a good time to
inspect for frame or unibody damage.

- Check the exhaust with your finger. Greasy grime means important problem. Turn the car on. White

vapor (not in a cold climate) is a bad sign too.


Part 2  Checking under the hood
2.1 Check under the hood of the car for any indication of dents, damage or rust. These can all be signs that the
car was either poorly taken care of or damaged. Each fender, just inside where the hood joins, should have a
decal with the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the car; if it is missing, that fender was replaced.
2.2 Check the hoses and belts. They should not have cracks. The radiator hoses should not be soft.
2.3 Inspect the engine for any sort of leaks, or corrosion. On the engine block, look for any dark brown oil stains,
this will indicate that there is a leak in a gasket, and could possibly lead to an expensive repair in the future.
Check the brake fluid, and reservoir to make sure its is not leaking. The belts should look
new (i.e. not have cracks or signs of drying). Old belts can snap, and if you do not know how to replace them,
it will cost between $100-500 depending on which belt goes bad.
2.4 Remove the oil filler cap. A foam residue on the inside indicates a leaking head gasket. Forget that car.
Look at the condition of the coolant in the overflow jar; filthy brown coolant means it's never been flushed and often
means a leaky head gasket.
2.5 Pull the transmission dipstick; the fluid should be pink or red. An old car may be dark but it should not look or
smell burnt. It should also be full (check with the engine running).
2.6 Check the timing belt. This is the most important belt in the engine, and is also the most costly to replace.
If the car is equipped with a steel timing chain, you don't have to worry about this. Normal lifespan of a timing belt is
from 60-100+ thousand miles; this depends on the manufacturer.
Part 3 Checking inside the car
3.1 Go inside the car. Check the seats and upholstery of the car for any tears, rips, stains, or other type of damage.
3.2 Check to make sure the air-conditioning of the car is working well by turning it on. If air conditioning is a must,
buy a car with R134 coolant. Most cars fitted with R134 are 1993 or newer and have a sticker on the AC Condenser.
3.3  Check the odometer of the car for the mileage. This is important because the mileage indicates the car’s age.
On the average, a normal driver will drive between 10,000 to 15,000 miles (16,000 to 24,000 km) a year; however,
this depends on many factors. Remember, cars age by time and mileage. Buying a 10 year old car with very low
miles is not necessarily a good thing.
3.4 Some cars have computers on board. Bring with you an inexpensive computer to check for errors.
At any auto store they have inexpensive devices with prices around 50 KWD
3.5 For a car that has an on board computer, pay attention to the warnings right when you start the car or when you
turn the key or the start button.
3.6 Verify the lights and all the regular functions of the car when not moving. This include: any sensors for parking,
back parking camera, radio, CD, music installation, etc.​

Part 4 Testing The Car While Driving


4.1 Test drive the car before making any final decisions. This is perhaps one of the best ways to know the condition of the car. Hence, a buyer should make all effort to do a test drive first before coming to any decisions.
4.2 Be sure to check the brakes of the car by pressing down hard enough on the brakes to decelerate
rapidly, but not enough to slide.
Try this going around 30 mph (48 km/h) in an area without traffic. You should not feel any vibration from the brake pedal, or hear any squealing or strange noises. Brakes that pulsate indicate the need for having the rotors resurfaced or replaced and new pads installed. It should not swerve; this can be caused by a bad brake caliper or worn steering components.
4.3 Check for small trepidation at 45 / 55 / 65 / 75 mph (121 km/h). Slight trepidation during a small speed interval
may mean wear at the direction mechanical parts which may cost between 400 to 1500 to repair. These may
include joints / arms etc. This may go together with uneven wear at the front tire(s).
4.4 Check for sounds, trepidation or clunking noise when making a 90 degrees turn. Do this at low speed. This
means again, wear at the front direction level: joints need to be changed.
Part 5 Reaching your decision
5.1 Check out the car's service history which should give you some information regarding the performances, repairs, and problems of the car. Ideally, the current owner would have kept a record of the times when the car needed servicing and should be willing to show you this information. Some cars do not have maintenance records because they maintained them at home. This should be fine as long as they can prove they maintained the car properly. There are instances where used cars are sold because of past accidents or negative experiences.
5.2 Bring someone who knows cars. It is a good idea to bring along a trusted friend with a good background of automotive know-how to check things that you are not sure of. If you do not have a trusted friend in the auto industry you can pay a mechanic to complete an inspection on it for around 75-100 bucks. Make sure this mechanic has good reviews so you will not get scammed into thinking the car is a lemon.
5.3 Do not pay sticker price. A used car is a negotiable item. Do not feel the need to pay the price they are asking. The dealer bought this car at a low price, and is turning around and selling it for much more than they purchased it with the notion that they might have to lower that sticker price. Depending on the quality of the vehicle, feel free to offer a price. Be sure that it is a reasonable offer. If the dealer is asking $15,000, do not offer $10,000. It is merely an insult by doing this. If the car is over $10,000, try to negotiate at least $1500 off of the car. You can pre-qualify yourself at your bank or at a Credit Union. That will determine what you can spend for a car. Try to buy a car that is less than they tell you. Most people try to buy more car than they can really afford. Remember, no matter how good that car is today, it is going to require maintenance in the future. Use parts of the car that are unflattering to your advantage. If a car is not the color you are looking for, tell the dealer "I really like the car, but I don't like that it is green, that is the only thing holding me back from buying it" The dealer will see that you want it, and find some way to get you into that car.
5.4 If purchasing from a private sale it can be beneficial to the price negotiation to bring a pen, paper and cell phone
with you. As you make your inspection of the car be sure to record all items which are damaged or will require
replacement. If needed also remind the buyer that you will be taking the vehicle to your own personal mechanic
so they do not think the list is for theirs. After you have collected a list of what you believe the car will require you
can telephone auto parts stores to check the price and availability of replacement parts. Once you know how much
the car will cost to repair if you buy it you can make an informed decision on what you would like to pay as well as
increase the likelihood that the seller may reduce their asking price. Be careful while doing this because some
sellers may think its rude by doing this and thus could end into a no sale 



19 Jul, 2015 0 6627
Posted Comments