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Used Car Checklist: What Should You Look For?

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Buying a used car can be tricky. Everyone wants a good deal, but how can you be sure that you're not about to buy a ticking time bomb?

Whether you are purchasing a used car from a dealership or a private seller, it's important to do your research. There are a few things to look out for that will ensure you are making a safe and smart purchase.

Keep reading for the used car checklist!

Do Your Research

Proper research is the most important step. Decide beforehand a few car models that you are interested in.

Once you have your selection narrowed down to two or three different cars, research common problems associated with those different makes and models.

Look at things like when those problems start to arise, how long the engine lasts, and any other issues you might come across.

This research can help you narrow down your search even more. It's also important to ask the seller about these common issues.


When you go see the car in person, make sure to do a thorough inspection. First, look at the exterior.

Walk around the outside of the car to inspect for any body damage. Mismatching pieces or lights can be a sign of previous damage.

Have the seller turn the car on and check all lights, including blinkers, to make sure they are working.

Look at the tires and see if they are all matching. Look at the tire treads for an idea of how old they are.


Next is the interior. Look at the seats and watch out for any cracks, tears, or stains in the upholstery. Check all the seat controls to see if they are working.

Look at the headliner for tears or stains. Check the carpets for water damage. You can even pull a corner up in a hidden spot to look for mildew or mold.

Play with all the controls and buttons to ensure they are all working properly. Check for any odors.

Under The Hood

Open up the hood and look at the belts and hoses. Make sure everything is connected properly.

Check the oil, transmission, power steering, and brake fluid. You can find where to check these in the owner's manual.

Lastly, check the radiator. If you find that the anti-freeze color is a rusty orange, this could indicate a problem.

Test Drive

Take the car for a spin! Test driving the car can help you identify strange sounds or squeaky breaks. The also ensures that all the controls work properly.

Paperwork and Inspection

Lastly, if you are buying from a private seller, check the car title and registration.  Cross-check the name on these documents with the seller's driver's license. If they don't match, it could be a used car dealer posing as a private seller.

Another important step is to get the VIN number of the vehicle and run a vehicle history report.

Lastly, consider having a thorough inspection done by a mechanic.

Used Car Checklist

Don't be left with regret after your purchase. Use this used car checklist to ensure you are making a smart and safe purchase.

For more help with buying used cars, contact us here today!