5 Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Car

Used Car Checklist

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you need to know what to look out for. You don’t want some barely functional old banger. You want a car that does the job right. So what do you have to look out for?

Here are a few things.

The Engine

While it’s impossible to know for sure what the true state of the engine is, ask to fire it up to find out. If it splutters and coughs, you know there’s a problem. It may not be as obvious as that.

Listen and feel very hard. Try to notice any sudden jumps and rattles. Keep an ear out for any suspicious noises that come on suddenly. If you hear something that doesn’t sound right, don’t buy the car. It could indicate fluid problems, or even a massive mechanics bill further down the road.

Also make sure you check for a good strong biting point on the clutch of the car. This can be done by putting the car in 4th gear, leaving the hand break on, and slowly letting the clutch out till the car just about stalls. If you get to the stalling point, that means the clutch is in good working order, but if you feel the car is not reaching stalling point, it means the clutch is slipping and will need replacing soon.

The Interior

The interior of a car can usually give away its age. If a dealership or an individual seller are lying about the age of the car, the interior should give you a real idea of the wear and tear it has been through.

With nearly new cars sold by firms like the Pentagon Group, you rarely have to do this kind of intensive checking. Just try to notice the little things. They can give away bigger things if you’re smart enough.

The Breaks

This is essential. You don’t want a car with bad breaks. It can quite possibly spell life and death for you. Always make sure you check them yourself during any test driving process. You should also check how much of a lip is on the disk brakes, and if you have alloy wheels on the car, you can usually see how much life is left on the pads.

If you’re still not convinced after that, perhaps ask for a professional mechanic to give them the once over. That should just about make your mind up if they come back with, or without any problems.

With breaks, it is the last thing you want to go wrong. If there’s any one thing you check out of this list, make it the breaks.

The Wheels

While replaceable, you want to know the set you’re already getting are fit for purpose. Besides checking for punctures or already flat tyres, you have to make sure they’re fitted correctly. You don’t want to be doing 70 miles per hour and have a wheel fly off.

Usually you can do this by touch. Do you know why people tend to kick the tyres when buying a used car? So that they can see if there is any wobble when force is applied. Any wobble suggests that they are not fitted right. Also make sure there are no hefty curb marks on the alloy wheels, and chunks missing from the tyres.

The Bodywork

While somewhat superficial, you don’t want to buy a used car full of dents and scrapes. The scrapes will probably buff out eventually. Dents can be a little more of a problem. There are solutions, but ideally you don’t want to have to do that.

As the bodywork is outward facing, it can be easy to tell if something is wrong. Touch can help too. Have a feel of the wing mirrors. If they’ve fallen off and have been hastily stuck back on, you should be able to tell if they’ve be reattached flimsily or not.

Likewise with the bumper. Give it a run over with your fingers. That should show you how secure it is.


Finally take the car for a test drive and listen for rattles or clunks going over bumps. If you hear clunks, when going over bumps, check to make sure the suspension is not damaged, or a loose exhaust under the car. Also make sure the power steering is working correctly by turning the wheel from lock to lock. There should be no lumps or bumps in this movement, and no funny noises from the power steering pump while this is being preformed.

1 comment
  1. On the bodywork part, I would add to check the paint on the engine bay. Cracks, soldering traces, re-painted surfaces or paint that seems way older than the outside paint are usually signs of some major frame work done to the car, like post-crash kind of jobs.

    I tend to avoid to buy any car with one of those signs.

    Great article anyway, you seem to have a lot of knowledge on buying and selling cars. Saving your blog on bookmarks!

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