Used Car Buyer’s Checklist
✔ Do Your Research Before starting your search, ask yourself if there is a certain type of vehicle that you need. When you know what type of vehicle you want, it helps narrow your focus on which inspection items you need to pay particular attention to. Also, when looking at models that match the type of vehicle you want, research the common problems for each model you?re considering. It?s equally important to know their drawbacks as it is to know their strong points.
✔ Exterior Checks Walk around the vehicle to inspect its body for scratches, dents or rust, and check that the body panels line up evenly. The doors, hood and trunk should easily open and close. Examine the tires to make sure they are all the same brand and in good condition (no cracks, bulges, scuffing or bad tread). Finally, check that the lights all work properly, have no cracks or other damage and show no signs of moisture.
✔ Interior Checks When inspecting the interior, you should immediately notice whether there is an odor. If the car smells like mold, must or mildew, it could indicate a water leak or flood damage. Check the seats to see if they are damaged, and make sure they work properly, including being able to get the driver?s seat into the right position for you. Test the controls and instruments to see that they?re all functioning. Also, look at the roof for signs of staining or water leaking through a sunroof or window.
✔ Under the Hood When checking under the hood, inspect the belts, hoses, fluids, oil and transmission fluid. Each should be in its proper place or at its proper level, and there should be no cracks, leaks or water. Remember to look underneath the vehicle to see if anything is leaking.
✔ The Test Drive One of the most important parts of your inspection is to test-drive the vehicle. Take note of how long the vehicle takes to start and listen for odd noises. You should drive on a variety of roads to test the vehicle?s performance at different speeds. Check that the transmission shifts smoothly and test the brakes to see if they have good stopping power without pulling the vehicle to either side.
✔ Paperwork and Mechanic’s Inspection Before you close the deal, you need to get the vehicle identification number (VIN) and run a Vehicle History Report. Most dealers will provide a report on all of their used vehicles. You should also have a trusted repair shop fully inspect the vehicle before you purchase it.