Everything Is A-Okay: Use This Used Car Inspection Checklist When Auto Shopping

As soon as you roll a new car off the lot, it loses value. That makes spending a ton of money on a brand new car a less than appealing idea. But when you buy a used or pre-owned car, it can feel like you’re taking a gamble on someone else’s baggage.

That’s why it’s smart to know what to look for when you go into the dealership to buy a used car. When you go in armed with observation skills and a little knowledge of the warning signs to watch out for, you can make sure that the used car you buy

Before you head to the dealership, check out this used car inspection checklist so you can go in prepared.

Do Your Research

Before you step foot on the lot take a look at the cars that the dealership has available. Find a few makes and models that appeal to you and do a little research on all of them.

What do other people who drive those cars think about them? What are some common problems to keep an eye out for?

Make a list of any questions you might have regarding these makes and models and take them with you when you visit the dealership.

Start With the Outside of the Vehicle

Once you’ve done your research you can take a look at the outside of the car. Make sure you do a thorough job of examining every part of the exterior so you don’t run into any issues in the future.

The Overall Condition of the Body

The first item on your checklist is the condition of the body. Take a walk around the car and check for any dents, scratches, and visible rust. Mismatched paint is also another thing to look out for because it could mean that there was an issue with an accident or rust that got out of hand.

Do all of the panels on the body line up evenly? Do the doors, including the trunk and the hood, open and close with ease? If there are any major issues here, there’s a good chance that you might have problems with the car in the future.

Tire Care

Next, check for the condition of the tires. Use the penny test to check for the tread and make sure that the treat is worn evenly on all sides to see if there might be an issue with the alignment. It’s also a good idea to ask the dealership if the tires were rotated on a regular basis.

Check the Lights

Have a friend or a representative at the dealership get into the car and turn it on. One by one, have them activate the different lights for the outside of the vehicle. While they do, make sure that the headlights, the high-beams, the turn signals, and the break-lights all work.

It’s a good idea to check the housing for the lights too. A vehicle with damage on the inside of the light housing might have been in a flood.

Move to the Inside of the Vehicle

Once you’ve conducted the inspection on the outside of the vehicle, it’s time to move to the inside.

What Does it Smell Like?

The first thing that you’ll notice when you get into a used car is the smell. There should be no strong odors when you open the doors. If you’re sensitive to smells and you get a whiff of smoke or animal, think twice about making the choice to buy because those smells are hard to get out.

You’ll also want to check for wet, musty, and moldy smells that could indicate that there is water damage on the inside of the car.

The Condition of the Seats

Make sure that the seats aren’t especially worn. Ensure there are no runs or holes in the material and, if you’re feeling brave, get your nose down there and take a whiff for any sign of water damage there as well.

Don’t forget to check the seat belts as well!

The Control Buttons

Once you’re comfortable with the state of the seats, get in and check that the controls all work. The buttons should all function properly without sticking. Don’t let any control slip by!

Check for the heat, the AC, the windows, and all of the internal lights as well. Make sure that the internal lights turn off when the car is off as well.

The Roof

The roof is another place to check to ensure that there’s no water damage on the inside of the car. Make sure that all the seals are intact and that any moon- or sunroof isn’t leaking. The material that covers the roof shouldn’t sag or be stained at all, either.

Under the Hood

You might think that checking under the hood is a job better left to the professionals, but there are a few things even someone with an untrained eye can look for.

Open the hood and make sure that nothing looks worn, rusted, or frayed. You don’t want to see any cracks or stains from leaking fluids.

You can also check all of the fluids under the hood while you’re under there.

Take It for a Test Drive

All that’s left is to take it for a test drive. Make sure that the car handles well and that it doesn’t rumble, vibrate, or make noises that could indicate a problem. The acceleration should be smooth and you shouldn’t have an issue on hills either.

Don’t forget to let the car idle for a while as well to make sure that everything feels smooth.

Never Forget to Conduct a Used Car Inspection Checklist

Before you buy any used car, it’s important to run through a used car inspection checklist just to make sure that you’re getting a dependable vehicle. When you buy a car used, you can save a ton of money and still wind up with a reliable car that will last you for years to come as long as you know what to look for when you go in to buy.

If you’re in the market for a great pre-owned car, contact us today!

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