How to Inspect a Used Car
It’s nice to buy a new car but not everybody agrees that it’s the best automotive investment for the money. Some people avoid new cars because of the instant depreciation in value and not everyone agrees that a perfectly new car doesn’t come with its own list of mechanical defects. Some people just prefer to buy used cars instead.
When shopping for a used car, perhaps one of the most important factors to keep in mind is how to inspect a used car. A little use, or a lot, will leave its mark on the vehicle and the savvy new owner will want to know as much as possible about the vehicle.
When planning on how to inspect a used car, don’t limit the inspection to looks alone. Ask the current owner about any collisions or other types of damage the vehicle has sustained. Make sure you know if the odometer has ever been rolled back and if the vehicle has ever been involved in a flood or other natural disaster that might have a lasting effect on the mechanical integrity of the car.
How to inspect a used car often depends upon a lot of note taking, especially when a larger number of vehicles are under consideration. By making notes of mileage, features, likes and dislikes, and price, it becomes much easier to review details for comparison than trying to sort through muddled memories.
Many people who know how to inspect a used car often carry along with them a magnet, flashlight, some paper towels, and a music CD or cassette tape. The magnet can identify any corroded spots hidden underneath a good repair job. The flashlight allows a clearer view of hard-to-see engine and undercarriage parts and makes finding leaks a little easier. You’ll want to check the engine fluids, so the paper towels will be indispensable, and, if music on the road is important to you, bring some music you know works so you’ll know if the car’s stereo system works to your satisfaction.
How to inspect a used car usually starts with a visual inspection of the exterior of the car. Look at the car from all four sides, the top, the bottom, and from any other angle possible. If anything at all raises a question in your own mind, ask the seller for an explanation. No question should be left unspoken during a used car inspection.
After the exterior inspection, how to inspect a used car needs to move to the interior. Make sure the upholstery and trim meets your specifications. Make sure everything works. Try out the turn signals, windshield wipers, air conditioning/heating system, music, locks, and windows. Make sure all the lights, inside and out, work properly. Question any warning lights that might remain on and make sure all the gauges on the instrument panel work appropriately.
Locate the vehicle’s spare tire, jack, and wheel wrench. Make sure the fluid levels in the engine compartment are full and that there are no leaks or other causes for alarm. Don’t take the seller’s word. Check these things yourself.
How to inspect a used car properly requires a test drive. Never buy one you’ve not been allowed to drive first. But don’t limit your inspection to a test drive. Do the previously listed steps, too, to provide a more comprehensive picture. Many defects and flaws may remain hidden during a short test drive but the evidence of their presence can be found in a more thorough inspection.
If how to inspect a used car seems to be beyond your level of expertise, do call on one of the growing number of professional car inspection services that will provide you with a detailed inspection for any car you are seriously considering purchasing. The inspectors for these services represent neither the buyer nor the seller so the inspection is as unbiased as it can be. You’ll learn about the car from the inspector’s perspective and no advice to buy or beware will be given.