Buying a Used Car? Follow This Checklist to Make Sure You Get a Reliable Vehicle

September 22nd, 2018 by

Black Audi sport coupe

So you’ve found a great-looking used car at an attractive price. However, it is always worth to take things slowly with such a major purchase. Going through following checklist before you sign the blank line, will ensure that you are obtaining yourself reliable vehicle, not expensive nightmare.


Carefully check the body for dents, scratches, rusty patches, and places where the paint doesn’t quite match up. Make sure you do it in daylight, so that you can spot any issues. Bodywork damage, when not fixed quickly and largely, can lead to expensive problems further down the line. That is why don’t rush this part of your inspection.


Check the interior for wear and tear and safety features such as seat belts and airbags. If the inside of the car looks poorly maintained, then less visible parts of the vehicle may be hiding some mechanical and cosmetic issues.

Under the Hood

Thoroughly examine under the hood for loose wires or hoses, or anything else that looks out of place. You don’t need to be an expert mechanic to spot many issues; if your common sense says something’s not right, then don’t ignore it.

Oil and Other Fluids

While the hood is open, check the oil and other fluid levels. Also take a look under the car for any obvious signs of leak. Low fluid levels or active leaks both show that the car hasn’t received adequate care.

Check Mileage

Make note of the mileage and see if it seems fair relative to the age of the vehicle. High mileage doesn’t necessarily mean a worn-out engine or transmission, but it should always mean a reduction in price.

Service History

No matter how high or low the mileage is, you should always ask for a copy of the service history. If the dealer can’t provide this, be extra cautious about going any further.

Check the VIN

Checking the vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a sensible step to take before making any auto purchase. You can find the VIN where the dashboard meets the windshield on the driver’s side, or on the post of the driver’s door.

Make sure the number matches the one shown on the vehicle’s documents. You also should run a VIN check (using a free online service), which will reveal most of the major issues from the car’s history.

Take a Test Drive

If everything seems okay so far, the last thing to do is to take a test drive under realistic conditions. Don’t just go for a quick ride around the neighborhood; try and include some highway and city driving too. That will help you to see how the car will perform in daily life road conditions.

If the test drive doesn’t feel right, think carefully about going any further. Never let a persuasive dealer talk you into a purchase, if you’re not totally happy at this stage.

Used cars can be amazing bargain, but it’s fair to say not all vehicles are as good as they look on the surface. Today’s auto dealers aren’t nearly as sleazy as their reputation among people and community. However, it’s still best to check as much as you can before signing the deal.

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