Buying A Used Car Checklist
If you are in the market for purchasing a vehicle, there are a couple of things that you should verify before buying a pre-owned car. For this reason, we have come up with a comprehensive buying a used car checklist which should be verified in order to check if the car is in a good shape and if it deserves the money.
First of all, you will need to have a close look at the car’s body; this means that you need to verify the following:
a) Broken light lenses;
b) Worn / rusted windshield wipers;
c) Corroded / cracked mirrors;
d) Missing wheel covers;
e) Chassis, by looking under the car to see if it is cracked or bend.
After that, you need to play close attention to the condition of the tires:
a) Test the pressure of the tires with a tire gauge;
b) Look to see if all of the four tires are the same make and size;
c) Are the tires wearing on the outside or on the inside edges?
d) Don’t forget to have a look at the spare tire.
You now must get inside the cabin and look at the following:
a) Does the driver’s seat have cracks or cuts?
b) Do the seat belts works as they are supposed to?
c) If the car has them, verify the power windows and locks;
d) Using the key, open all the doors;
e) Verify the seat adjustment feature;
f) Test the sunroof by raising it all the way and lowering it back;
g) If it has one, check how the alarm is working;
h) Look inside the trunk, if it has a musty smell, it means that water is leaking into it;
i) Verify the instrument panel by checking all the gauges, warning lights and signal lights;
j) Check out the hazard lights;
k) Check the air conditioning system and the heater. You need to start the vehicle and let the power unit warm up. After that, turn on the AC. Pretty soon you should notice cold air coming from the vents, regardless of the season. Set the heater to different speeds to see if it works properly. Verify the rear defroster also.
If you are buying a car that comes with an automatic transmission, here is how you should test it:
a) First, put up the car’s hood and verify the transmission fluid by using the dipstick;
b) Now you must touch it and smell the transmission fluid on your finger. It should be clean with no grit and it should not smell burned or scorched;
c) The best test would be to drive the vehicle and if the transmission slips or its reactions are delayed, it means that the car is experiencing gearbox problems. Don’t forget to verify if all the gears work, including neutral, park and reverse. Shift the vehicle into neutral – its transmission should not engage now. After that, immediately shift to drive – there shouldn’t be any delays and it should engage immediately.
For those interested in a vehicle with a manual transmission, here is your buying a used car checklist:
a) Make sure that you try all of the car’s gears. All of them should shift in a smooth matter and there shouldn’t be any vibrations, clunks, jerks or any weird noises;
b) When you are in second / third gear, try to accelerate in a fast matter. The vehicle’s clutch should not slip. If it does, it means that you’ll have to change it pretty soon;
c) During driving, verify how the transmission responds by decelerating and accelerating. If you happen to hear whining or humming, avoid getting the car.
Moving on, now you should check out the engine. Here are a couple of tips to find out its shape:
a) Verify if the oil changes were done accordingly;
b) Do you smell burnt oil?
c) Is the engine dirty or covered with old oil?
d) Speaking of oil, use the oil stick to check it. Make sure that the power unit is cool and the car is sitting flat when checking it;
e) Verify the dipstick. If that metal piece which goes into the engine has heavy oil deposits or is dirty, it means that the owner has not been taking good care of the car;
f) Check dark emissions that look like smoke by starting the car. If you see smoke, it means that the vehicle is burning oil and it also burns more fuel than it should.
One of the best ways to figure out if a car is in good shape or not is by taking it out for a test drive:
a) The car should start easily even on the coldest winter days;
b) When you start it, it should not make noise or smoke;
c) Check for squeaks, squeals and hisses;
d) Drive the car and verify the steering, brakes and see if the work properly.