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7 Things to Check Before Buying a Used Car

by Lily Morgen
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Buy a Used Car

When you want a high-quality car but don’t want to pay a premium, purchasing a used car can be a good choice. However, unlike buying a new car, when buying a secondhand car, you need a careful check to ensure that the car is in good condition and meets your demand.

Here are some key things to look for when buying a used car.

1. Read the Window Sticker Carefully

A Buyer’s Guide is typically attached to the car window to provide specific information, such as whether the car is being sold “as is” or with a warranty, and what portion of repair costs (if any) the dealer is required to cover. You’ll learn what your rights are as a consumer, and what the seller’s obligations are.

2. Look Up the VIN and Check the Vehicle History Report

The car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the vehicle history reportcan tell you if the car has been in a serious accident, or if it has any outstanding recalls that have not been addressed. You can look up the VIN at sites like Carfax.com or Autocheck.com.

3. Inspect the Car’s Bod


Look for any obvious dents, scratches, or rust on the car’s body. These can indicate that the car has been in an accident or not well cared for. Also, check to see if the doors and trunk open and close smoothly.


Make sure all the glass is in good condition and free of cracks. Also, ensure the windshield wipers and washer fluid are working properly.


Test the suspension by pushing down on each corner of the car. The car should bounce once and then settle back into place. If it bounces more than once, the shocks may need to be replaced. Meanwhile, pay attention to any fluid leaks under the car.


Tires should have good tread and be free of any cracks or damage. Also, make sure the tires are the same size and type.

Lights and Lenses

Make sure all the lights and lenses are in good condition and working properly. This includes the headlights, taillights, turn signals, backup lights, and brake lights.


Check the car’s odometer to see how many miles it has been driven. As you know that a car with a higher mileage may need more maintenance and repairs.


Smell the inside of the car for any unpleasant odors. These could be indications of water leaks, mold, or cigarette smoke, which may hard to remove.


The brake pedal should be firm, and the accelerator pedal should not be sticky. Also, make sure there is no play in the steering wheel.

Seats and upholstery

Inspect the seats and upholstery for any rips, stains, or wear. These can be indications of poor care or a previous owner with pets.


Check the condition of the brakes by taking the car for a test drive. The brakes should feel firm when applied and not make any strange noises. Also, pay attention to how the car slows down and comes to a stop.


Look for any leaks, cracks, or holes around the roof. Also, make sure the seals around the doors and windows are in good condition.

4. Under the Hood


Check all the fluid levels and conditions under the hood. This includes the engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. These fluids should be at the proper levels and free of any leaks.


The battery terminals should be clean and free of corrosion. Also, make sure the battery is properly secured.


Check the transmission fluid level and condition. The fluid should be at the proper level and free of any debris. Also, check the transmission for any leaks.

Exhaust system

Check the condition of the exhaust system. Look for any holes, leaks, or rust. Also, make sure the muffler is intact and not damaged.


Check the radiator for any leaks or damage. Also, make sure the radiator cap is tight and not damaged.


Start the car and check the engine for any unusual noises. The engine should run smoothly without any knocking or backfiring. Also, check the temperature gauge to make sure the engine is not overheating.

5. Take a Test Drive

Once you have inspected the car, it is time to take it for a test drive. This will give you a chance to see how the car handles and see if there are any mechanical problems. If possible, take the car on a variety of different roads to get a good feel for how it performs.

6. Have a Mechanic Inspect the Car

Even if you are not a mechanic yourself, it is always a good idea to have the car inspected by a professional before making your purchase. A mechanic will be able to identify any potential problems with the car that you may not be able to see.

7. Avoid Being Rushed

One of the most important things to remember when buying a used car is to avoid being rushed. If you feel like the seller is trying to pressure you into making a decision, it is probably best to walk away. Take your time in making your decision and be sure that you are getting the best possible deal on the car.

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