Used Car Checklist – What to Look for When Buying a Used Car
Many experts say the best way to waste your money is to buy a brand new car. They are very
expensive and their value plummets the minute you drive it off the lot. So why aren’t people buying more used cars?
Well, they are. But first make sure the car you are considering is in good shape. Here is a checklist so you can
do it yourself.
1. Fluids: Check the front CV joints, the front wheels, and the wheel wells for grease.
It may indicate bad seals and may need replacing. Any problems with the seals will show on the ground. Check to
see if the oil is clean. Dirty oil is a sure sign of neglect.
2. Engine: Check to see if there is oil covering the external parts of the engine. This is a
sign of leaks that are expensive to fix.
3. Exhaust: The best way to check the exhaust system is to get under the car and grab the muffler
to see if it will fall apart in your hands. A rusty muffler will not live very long.
4. Body Condition: First of all, open the door to get a better look at the body. Any part in
there that looks like it’s new or is covered with fresh paint is an indication that the car has been in an accident.
If rear panels have been repainted they may also have been putty painted to cover up body damage or rust.
5. Suspension: Check for rust around all the suspension parts. A lot of older cars rust at the
top mounting plates from the top of the shocks. The struts may actually push through the metal.
6. Tires: Most likely the seller won’t put on a set of tires and a dealer will and charge you,
so look for tread wear and check out to see if there is any uneven wear on the edges. This will also determine
wheel alignment problems.
7. Steering: A lot of play in the steering wheel shows a lot of hard wear and indicates that
the steering system will probably need to be replaced. If there are two inches of play and the tires aren’t turning,
watch out, the problems go beyond that.
8. Brakes: Check the brake pads for wear. A hard driven car will show on the brakes.
9. Interior: If it looks well kept and you are satisfied, good!
10. Remember: A well kept car (creme puff) is a car that you will not have to spend a lot of