How to Inspect a Used Car before Purchase

If you’re thinking about buying a used car there are a number of considerations to make and things to look out for when inspecting a vehicle. When taking it out for a test drive here are the top things to inspect before making a final decision.

Make sure the seller isn’t trying to rip you off

Sure the seller may seem like a great, friendly person, but you should always do your due diligence before handing over any money. The first thing you should do before testing a used car is to check that the vehicle isn’t stolen, has an outstanding loan or is an insurance write-off. To do this, all you need is the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number) to check against databases in the state it’s registered in. This is a pretty simple step and something many overlook before buying, but it could save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

Inspect the outside of the vehicle

Always inspect the car in daylight hours. Inspecting during the night or when it’s heavily raining would make it harder to spot any body marks, dents and rust. Check over the outside of the vehicle, making sure to look at the gaps between the body panels. Any unequal gaps could mean the vehicle has been repaired poorly after a crash. Make sure to check the tyres (including the spare). New tyres are expensive. Ensure the tyres all have plenty of tread and that they’re wearing evenly.

Inspect the inside of the vehicle

When looking over a vehicle for the first time there are many things you’ll need to inspect inside. Check underneath the carpet for signs of rust, welding or paint over spray, which could show poor condition or that the vehicle has been involved in a crash. Take a look at the seat belts to make sure they aren’t frayed or damaged in anyway. Also be sure to check the seats move well and all switches and internal features are in working order.

Inspect under the hood

Under the hood, check for any signs of oil leaks and always check the amount of oil. A low amount of oil shows that the seller has not been looking after the car properly. Always looks around the oil filter cap for a white creamy film as it could show a leaking head gasket which is costly to fix.

Go for a test drive

Now that you have inspected the car inside and out, it’s time to go for a test drive. Make sure to start up the car when the engine is cold. If it’s already been warmed up, then this could indicate that the seller has something to hide and needed to get it working before you arrived. Starting cold will help to show problems like smoke (indicating engine wear). Before you head out, move the steering wheel from one lock to the other to check for any irregularities. Now that you’re on the road, test the handbrake functions correctly on a steep hill, make sure the radio is turned off so you can hear how the car sounds and try to test the car at highway speeds (if possible).


Leave a Reply

Please write your reply below. We will not publish your email address.

By registering your comment you are signing up to our newsletter and T&Cs

Would you like us to review a product, service or car?

Get in touch and we can make that happen for you.

Find out more

Get in touch with us

Looking to advertise on My Car Heaven?
Would you like to join our team, or have an enquiry for us?

Find out how

Receive My Car Heaven updates

Subscribe to the My Car Heaven Newsletter to be kept up to date with all the latest posts, competitions and happenings.

Terms & Conditions