What to Physically Inspect Before You Buy a Pre-Owned Car

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Typically, pre-owned cars are sold on ‘as-is’ basis, which basically means that you are responsible for making sure that you like what you buy and the seller has no further responsibility after the deal is concluded.

Thus, it is all the more vital for you to check the car out and make sure that it is as perfect as possible.

  • Check Out the Exterior Diligently

    If you like a car, you should engage a professional mechanic to conduct a complete inspection. Check the exterior for signs of accident damage and rust, especially in the wheel wells and the underside.

    Make sure that the body does not rattle and that the doors, windows, and trunk lid close properly; a water spray test will reveal any leakage issues.

    Uneven wear and tear of the tires may be indicative of bent frames and suspension issues.

    Ensure that all the body panels look even and not out of joint or irregularly spaced or if the paint colors are unevenly matched as that could indicate poor quality of repairs after damage.

    Have the vehicle washed if it’s dirty and conduct the inspection in full daylight.

  • The Condition of the Interior Can Tell a Lot

    Badly worn out upholstery and carpeting is indicative of heavy and rough use and can be expensive to replace.

    Check out if all the seat belts work. See if the lights in the interior, as well as, the window mechanisms work and that the windscreen and the window glasses are not scratched or broken.

    The smell of a car can also reveal if the car has been damaged due to rain or flood waters leaking in.

    Make sure that the air-conditioning works properly as otherwise, repairs could be expensive. Reputed dealers of used cars central Florida usually ensure that the interiors are thoroughly cleaned before putting them up for sale.

  • The Engine and the Electrical System

    See if there is any leakage of coolant, brake fluid, and engine oil that may need costly repairs.

    Start the engine and look for unnatural sounds and smoke emissions; black sooty smoke could indicate valve problems or worn out piston rings.

    Inspect the oil dipstick; dark and dirty oil indicates poor engine maintenance, while bubbles and whitish appearance point to the presence of water in the fluid system and a symptom of serious engine issues.

    Dark transmission fluid in automatic cars may indicate maintenance issues. See if the battery holds charge and if it is still under guarantee. Check out all the electrical accessories like wipers, headlights, indicator lights, horn, music system, etc.


Insist on taking a long and leisurely test drive along the routes that you normally take, including some highway travel as many problems only reveal themselves at high speed.

See how the car handles when being accelerated and braked, and whether the suspension is up to the job of handling the rough patches.

If you are satisfied, this is the time you should check the ownership and insurance records and try to strike a deal.

Author Bio

Gary Hanks is the CEO of one of the most reputed dealers of used cars central Florida. A car enthusiast, Gary upholds the need for ethical practices in used car sales and writes extensively on educating the customer on how to buy pre-owned cars.

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