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Buying a used car checklist


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Buying a used car checklist

Used car buy checklist is required when person needs to make inspection of used car which he/she wants to buy. There are a lot of different used car inspection checklists which include various tips and points. They can vary according to car model, type, purposes etc. This used car buyer's checklist describes what and how should be checked in general for each car - Exterior, Interior, Engine/Transmission/Brakes

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  • Check visibility of rust
  • Check if all body panels have the same color
  • Check if doors and fenders meet evenly and straightly
  • Check if the hood and trunk meet the fenders evenly and straightly
  • Check if the car seems to be recently repainted

Fresh paint may cover progressing rust. Check for paint overspray. Look for signs of spray paint on moldings. Ensure that edges of the doors, hood, and trunk are all the same color.

  • Try magnet trick

Check if magnet sticks to all steel body panels. This may help to find a wreck because magnet ordinarily does not stick to a repair material used on a wrecked body panel. Test fenders, the lower corners of doors, and rocker panels (the areas below doors).

  • Check if all tires have the same amount of tread
  • Ensure that tires have the same size and brand

Check out tire size markings on tire sidewalls. Tire pressure should be within a few psi of the number indicated on the tire label on the door pillar or glove box.

  • Check availability of spare tire.

Check if spare tire is inflated. Press hard against the side with your thumb - the tire should be firm.

  • Check availability of jack and lug wrench.
  • Check if the car has locking hubcaps and if there is a key for hubcaps removing
  • Check if tailpipe sags
  • Check car sit level
  • Bounce each corner of the vehicle.

All corners should respond the same. Corners should bounce only once or twice before stopping.

  • Examine inside trunk, wheel wells, and under hood. Do you see areas that look like they have been crumpled and straightened
  • Look down each side of the car for a row of holes in the frame just inside the vehicle's outer edge.

If holes appear scratched or recently cleaned - you can suspect the frame has been straightened after a crash.

  • Check gas cap

Check if it fit correctly and if there key available

  • Check if there is a fuel-nozzle restrictor to prevent adding leaded fuel (inside the filler neck).


  • Check condition of upholstery.
  • Check condition of dashboard and headliner.
  • Check problems with seats adjustment.
  • Check if steering wheel tilts adequate.
  • Check if seat belts clean and retract easily.
  • Check if there are any window cranks, door locks, handles, dash controls or similar items missing.
  • Check if all interior lights and dash bulbs work.
  • Check if carpeting does not smell of mildew or stale water.

Smells identifies moisture underneath. A perfumed car may be masking mold or mildew smells in the air vents or consequences of flood.

  • Test if the heater, air conditioner, audio system, and alarm system operate fully.
  • Check all mirrors. Check operation of electric side view mirrors.
  • Test sunroof.


  • Check if there are signs of oil or fluid leaks.

If engine is too clean this may indicate recent cleaning that can remove evidence of leaks, an over-zealous steam cleaning can cause water damage and corrosion in the electrical components from condensation.

  • Check condition of belts, hoses and clamps.

Belts shouldn't be glazed or cracked and the hoses should be firm when squeezed.

  • Check transmission fluid.

Often the color or smell of transmission fluid can indicate problems with an automatic transmission. Transmission fluid should generally be a transparent red color and have no burnt odor.

  • Obtain an oil analysis if excessive engine wear is suspected.
  • Ensure that engine starts easily.
  • Ensure that engine idle smoothly.
  • Run the engine at full operating temperature.

Check abnormal smells that might be because of fluids on hot engine parts. Check for unusual noises (such as clattering or metallic sounds, or sharp hissing) in the engine compartment when the engine is running. Normal sound is smooth whirring of belts and fan.

  • Examine exhaust when the car is operating at normal temperature.

If you see white or blue smoke - this can indicate engine problems, especially if the smoke burns your eyes. A small amount of steam is normal, especially in cold weather.

  • Check if engine does not hesitate or stumble on acceleration
  • Check if the engine seems to have lack of power
  • Check fluid leaks on the underside of the engine and transmission, at axle ends, at brake line connections, or on the ground beneath the vehicle.

Green fluid is usually antifreeze; reddish fluid is usually power steering or transmission ...

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