Used Car Checklist The Car Investor

Used car checklist the car investor

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Used Car Checklist
This is a summarised version of our in-depth article on what to check when buying a used car. Print this version, take
it with you, and check things off as you go

Be sure to read the full article before you go:
Exterior Engine Bay
Walk around the car and assess it externally Examine under the hood whilst the engine is switched off
Does the bodywork have any dents, chips or ripples? Does it look clean and well maintained?
Are there any unusually large gaps between panels? Use the dipstick to check the oil - it should be dark or light
brown in color, and not gritty

Is there any rust? Check the following places:
Under the doors and inside the door frames Check there is no mayonnaise-like substance under the oil
In the wheel wells and around the arches filler cap

Around the windshield and window seals
Open the trunk and check the hinges, and under the Check the power-steering and brake fluids are between the
carpet min and max markers

Does the windshield have any chips or cracks? Run your hand over the drive belts to check for any damage

Is there enough tread left on the tires? Feel the hoses leading to the radiator and other areas to
check the rubber isn't solid

Check that tires are worn evenly from one sidewall to the
other Are the hoses clean and free from white staining?
Check the tires all the same brand (Check the spare too). Check the coolant level is between the min and max

Do the lights have any chips or cracks?
If the engine is cold, open the coolant cap and check the
Take a few steps back to check if the car is sitting level. coolant isn't rusty or milky colored

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Push down on each corner to check the shock absorbers. Check around the battery terminals for signs of rust
The car should only bounce once. (sometimes batteries are located in the trunk)

Grab each tire one at a time and pull it towards you - listen Check the battery's charge if you have a multimeter - fully
out for any clunking noises charged batteries should be at 12.6v or above

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Interior Underneath
Sit in the driver's seat and get a feel for the car's interior Get down low and check out the underside of the car
Does the upholstery have any tears, stains, or general signs Use a flashlight to check all components for signs of damage,
of wear? rust or welding

Does it smell inside of smoke, pets, or damp? Check the floor where the car is parked for any signs of leaks

Are there any signs of rust when you lift the mats? Examine the tailpipe for signs of rust. If it's cold, feel for
residue that could indicate the car is burning oil

Turn the ignition key but don't start the ignition. Check all
buttons and switches are working. Check underneath the front of the vehicle for scrapes and
other damage to the bumper (important for low cars)

Is the headliner (fabric attached to the roof) sagging?
Look for signs of damage under the rocker-panels (sills)

See next page for test drive checklist and questions to ask the seller
Used Car Test Drive Checklist
You can always check our in-depth article if you get stuck with anything in this checklist
Test Drive (Part 1) Test Drive (Part 2)
Take the used car out for a spin to see how it drives
Does the steering wheel sit off centre when driving straight?
Before setting off
Take your hands off the wheel (only if safe to do so) and see
Check the temperature gauge to see if the seller has been if the car pulls to one side

warming the engine beforehand

Test the brakes by pushing hard on the pedal (only if safe to
Check the engine starts well from cold. do so). Are there any:
Grinding noises?

Check the engine starts well from warm

Does the car pull to one side?
Once out on the road Are the brakes responsive?
Park on a slope and put the car in neutral to test the hand
Check the clutch for unusual noises, smells, or slippage

The car should pull away cleanly every time. brake. The car should not move once engaged

Ensure the gears select cleanly with no crunching or Is the engine running smoothly, or sounding rough?
grinding (and all changes are smooth with no delay if
you're test driving an automatic). When parked safely with the engine running, get out and
check under the hood for any unusual sounds

Power steering should be easy to operate with no unusual
Is the car comfortable enough for you?

Check the car is tracking correctly. Does the car have enough power for you?
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There should be no vibrations through the wheel as you're Did anything irritate you?

Questions to ask the Seller
a r
Why are you selling the car? Can I see the paperwork? Have there been any modifications?
Where has the vehicle been kept?
How many previous owners has it Are there any issues that weren't
had? Has it been damaged in the past? mentioned in the description?

Used Car Test Drive Checklist Test Drive (Part 1)

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to check when inspecting an used car?

Pop the hood and perform these checks:

  • Take a good look at the overall condition. ...
  • Check for rust, particularly on the shock or strut towers, the points at the corners near the windshield to which the front suspension is anchored.
  • Do you see any sign of fresh paint (or paint that is clearly newer than elsewhere on the car)? ...

More items...

How to check used car before buying?

Method 5 Method 5 of 5: Coming to a Decision Download Article

  1. Check the car's service history report. That will give you some information regarding the performance, repairs, and problems of the car.
  2. Bring someone who knows cars to inspect the car. It is a good idea to bring along a trusted friend with a good background of automotive know-how to check ...
  3. Negotiate the price of the car. ...

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How should i inspect an used car?

Method 1 Method 1 of 5: Checking the Exterior Download Article

  1. Park the car on level ground before checking it out. ...
  2. Look for rust spots, dents, or scratches in the paint job. The car should be clean so the paint condition is visible.
  3. Pop the trunk of the car to make sure it is still in good condition. ...
  4. Check the tires for wear. ...
  5. Inspect the exhaust system and the undercarriage for rust and damage. ...

More items...

What to look for during an used car inspection?

•Look for signs of rust or corrosion under the hood. These signs are a good indication of the car’s past treatment, current condition, and life expectancy. •Inspect belts for signs of wear. If any of the belts are frayed or torn, they may need to be replaced soon. •Check transmission fluid.