5 Car Inspection Techniques You Should Know Before Buying a Used Car

Buying a Used Car

Are you currently looking for a used car as your next ride? Do you want to find the best deal possible without risking the quality of the car itself? If so, then you need to learn how to perform a thorough car inspection.

Doing so can help you nail down the best deal. It can help you ensure that you receive a high return on your investment and don’t have to suffer through years of setbacks and costly repairs.

See below for an in-depth guide that lists several car inspection tactics when shopping around for a used automobile. Use them as you wish!

1. Check the Vehicle’s History

You wouldn’t take a test without studying for it first. You wouldn’t step on the court for a basketball game without taking a few warm-up shots. Here’s our point: you want to come into negotiations prepared.

Oftentimes, the best form of car inspection is the research and homework that you can do before you ever step foot on a car lot.

Since you’re purchasing a used car, you want to learn all that you can about the vehicle’s past. Thankfully, many credible sources can give you this information in the form of a vehicle history report.

All you need to do is type in the VIN and the vehicle history report will give you information such as:

  • Number of previous owners
  • Sales history
  • Last odometer reading
  • Number of reported accidents
  • Ownership history (and details)
  • Vehicle details
  • Open safety recall checks
  • Junk/Salvage/Insurance records
  • Title history information & more

Using all of this information, you can make an informed decision before you even schedule a test drive (more on that in a moment).

For example, if the car has a title history that doesn’t check out, then you can delete it from your list and move on.

2. Conduct a Professional Inspection

Unless you have a background in cars, you probably aren’t overly familiar with the layout under the hood.

Like it or not, used car dealers will use your lack of knowledge against you. They will actively avoid conversations about parts of the car that underperform or could devalue the car from their original asking price.

The good news is that you don’t need to become a certified auto mechanic to find a good deal. You can simply refer to the expertise and know-how of your most trusted auto shop.

Any time that you’re nearing the point of purchase with a vehicle, be sure to request taking it in to be inspected by a mechanic that you trust. That way, you have professional eyes assessing the condition of the car.

The mechanic will look into things such as the cars:

  • Electrical Systems
  • Wheels
  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Suspension
  • Battery Condition
  • Fluids
  • High Beams
  • Backup Lights
  • Emergency Flashers
  • Turn Signals & more

All of this can help you have more confidence in your purchase. However, you should know that even if the car experiences setbacks anyways, you’re protected by lemon laws. Read this article by Kimmel and Silverman for more information.

3. Schedule a Test Drive

If you only get one takeaway from this article, let it be this: you should never purchase any car (new or used) that you haven’t test-driven.

Even if you’ve test-driven the same year, make, model, and trim level at another dealership, you need to test drive that specific vehicle.

Contrary to popular belief, the test drive isn’t an added luxury that the dealership throws in out of the goodness of their heart. It’s the only chance that you get to test the car out before you purchase it.

While at the wheel, be sure to look for things such as the car’s manoeuvrability, sounds, handling, acceleration, braking, and responsiveness.

When you first turn the ignition, how does the car feel? When you drive on the highway, is the cabin noisy or quiet? All of these details matter!

4. Look at the Interior

While you’re in the cabin (before you hop out after the test drive) be sure to assess the condition of the interior.

Pay special attention to things such as the upholstery, roof, trunk, sound system quality, seats, pedals, controls, buttons, and features. If the car has added safety features, try them out.

Also, make sure that there isn’t a weird smell. If there is, it could be that the dealer is trying to cover the scent of smoke from a previous owner. Cigarette smoke is nearly impossible to get out, so that smell will always linger.

5. Look at the Exterior

Once you jump out of the car after the test drive, take a few laps around the outside of the car.

Look into things such as the condition of the tires, the windows, tires, and body of the car. If you notice any dings, scratches, or cracks, bring them to the attention of the car salesman/saleswoman.

You’ll also want to check the front and backlights of the car, which the salesman will be happy to activate for you while you look at them. This way, you aren’t sacrificing aesthetics to get your hands on a used car.

Use These Car Inspection Tips to Your Advantage

Now that you have seen all of the different tactics and techniques for a car inspection on a used car, be sure to use them while you shop around.

Remember, the car’s previous history is vitally important. It’s reflective of how that particular vehicle has performed up to this point. Take it seriously.

Be sure to browse our website for more articles on finding used cars, as well as many other helpful topics that you will enjoy.