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Things to Look for When Buying a Used Car

The things to look for when buying a used car are a must to know to save you more money on an expensive repair that may arise from hidden issues.


Buying used cars can simply save you lots of money, but can also give you a headache and most of all drain your savings due to high maintenance costs. So, what should you check when buying a used car?

If you have no idea how reliable the used car you want to buy then your in trouble. It is necessary that before buying any used car make it a practice to understand the background of the car.

Start by deciding what brand and model you want to buy, take note of how much is the worth in the market of the particular brand you are interested in, the information can simply be found on any used car buyers guide magazines.

When buying a used car, it is better to buy at a private party than with that of a used car dealer, because most of the dealers will not provide a competitive price.

Things to Look for When Buying a Used Car


During negotiations with the seller try to get all the necessary information about the car because it can be a basis of a decision to purchase or not, ask questions such as :

Ask the following questions

(1) Are you the first owner?
(2) What was the reason why do you want to sell your car?
(3) Where do you bring the car for maintenance purposes?
(4) Does the car have service records?
(5) Has the car ever been in an accident?
(6) Does the car need any repair?

Those are just some of the questions you need to ask the seller to better understand the background on how the car is being handled by the owner.

After learning all of the backgrounds of the car, make an actual inspection of the car.
Check the exterior condition. Always conduct the inspection during the daytime.
Check if all the exterior lights are functioning properly: Headlights ( high and low beam ), park lights, turn signal lights, hazard lights, backlights, and brake lights.
Check if the wiper and wiper washers are functioning.
Check the windshield and window glass for cracks.
Check the condition of Spare Tire, Tools, Jack ( STJ).
Check the tire tread depth.

Open the hood to see what‘s inside the engine compartment :

check for any leak like engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and clutch fluid.


After inspection of the exterior, next is the interior inspection, open all doors including the trunk compartment.

Check the used car following conditions.

(1) Check the doors, open and close to know if it functions properly and smoothly.
(2) Check if all gauges on the instrument panel are working properly including illumination.
(3) Check if all door locks are functioning.
(4) Check if the horn is functioning.
(5) Check if all pedals; accelerator, brake, clutch (ABC) is functioning properly includes the parking brake, and most of all check for the owner's manual.

Next is to road test the car. Start the engine and take note if the engine starts quickly as expected. Check if the car idles evenly. Drive the car in the city and highway condition. Make sure to drive in both road conditions as some of the defects can only be detected on either road condition.

While driving check if there is no pulling to one side of the road. Check if the instrument panel is working properly, notice if there is any indicator light appeared on the instrument panel such as: check engine light, stop indicator light, battery indicator light, as it indicates that the car has some troubles. Check for any unusual sound from the engine like a pinging or knocking sound.

Car Warning Light Symbols
If car warning light symbols are lit it means something is wrong with the car to warn the driver. Look at car symbols and meanings on the dashboard. Read more » Car Warning Light Symbols

During braking check, if the car stop as you expected, make sure that no grinding and squealing sound is present when braking because it indicates worn-out brake pads or brake shoes.

After the car passed your requirement, ask the seller to have the car be checked by your mechanic for mechanical evaluation and check-up so that you will know if there is no problem with the car which you did not saw during inspection.

The mechanic can also tell you if the transmission and engine condition is consistent with the odometer reading as what appears on the instrument panel to make sure that the odometer has not been rolled back.

Then based on the recommendation of the mechanic and your evaluation result, you may now decide if you want to buy the car or not. Put in mind that a good decision depends on the correct and complete information to have a better edge when buying used cars.


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