Looking around at previously used cars can be a satisfying, fun filled way to spend part of your day. Some people turn it into a chore that they feel is simply a task that needs done. Those people do not know what they should look for when checking a vehicle out. Investopedia also gives a great reminder to you. Always know what you need before you start test driving. This prevents you from making a rash, impulse decision on something that you want. What you need should always come before what you want.
Do not take the outer appearance of a vehicle as being the shape that it is in. Drive them around. Check them out, inside and out.
· Body-The outer sections of the vehicle should be in decent shape. It is used so there may be some small dents, and a few scraps and scratches. That is all right if you are good with it. There should be no rust or multicolored areas. It is also important that the pre-owned vehicle is visually appealing to you.
· Glass-All the areas of glass need to be solid with no big cracks. A few chips can be expected, and they are easily fixed.
· Lights-The lights should all work properly, and they need to be in good condition. This includes the side markers lights and any fog lights that may be present.
· Tires-This is a part of the vehicle that is extremely important, yet often overlooked. The tires need to have a decent amount of tread on them. The wear across the tire should be even throughout the width of the tire. They should look full and be appropriate for the vehicle. You do not want big truck tires on a sporty car.
· Engine-The engine compartment should be clean and free of grease and fluids. It is a used vehicle, so a little grime is all right. The fluids, on the dipsticks, should be filled to the proper lines. They should all be the color that they should be, with no water bubbles showing. The battery must be clean and free of corrosion. Each car maker will have a unique way in which they make engines. Used Toyota trucks, for instance, look different then an engine in a Ford heavy duty truck. Just because it looks different than what you have seen, does not mean that the engine is bad.
· Shocks/Suspension-Take a quick look under the vehicle. If you can crawl under it do so, otherwise look in as far as you can. See if the shocks and suspension parts look good. Grab the CV joints and the tie rods and ball joints. Make sure that they do not move a ton when you wiggle them. Make sure the boots are intact and that the grease fittings have been used recently.
· Exhaust-Check the entire exhaust system for holes or major rust spots. There should be pipes from the engine to the catalytic converter and the muffler. From there more pipes to the tail end, or out the side around the rear tires. Missing sections are not that big of an issue, but one that will need to be dealt with.
· Drips-While you are looking underneath check for leaks on the ground, or on the vehicle itself. The common areas where a leak can happen would be under the engine or transmission, and beneath the transfer case if it has one.
· Odor-Opening one of the doors while allow you to get a good whiff of the air inside of it. Any strong odors should be noted. Odors that smell like trouble, such as antifreeze, can be an indication of a heater core problem.
· Cosmetic-Check the seats for rips and tears. The pedals should have rubber on them. The carpets should be clean and free of water stains. The instrument panels, and the center console, should all be free of cracks or damage.
· Usable-All the instruments, lights, and electronics needs to be checked to ensure that they all work. The radio should come and at least buzz. Seats should move freely. The seat belts should move in and out of the harness and should easily click in and out of the ends.
Checking out used cars is a task that should be fun. Driving something new just for the fun of it. Checking them out from top to bottom will allow you to see how different cars are put together, and how well they last over time.