Used Car Buying: Inspection Checklist

Used car on car lotDoing laundry, filing your taxes, and used car shopping pretty much sums up the list of “Least Favorite Things To Do.” Buying a used car can be nerve-wracking and discouraging. Whether you’re purchasing from a private seller or a dealership, not only are you hoping to get the best deal, you’re trusting that you’re getting the most honest and detailed account of the car. While you can’t count on hearing what you want to hear from the seller, there are things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most car for your money and not get stuck with a lemon. To ensure the car you’re interested in purchasing is a wise investment, you’ll want to have it inspected to make sure it hasn’t been in a serious accident, fire, or flood, and to confirm it’s mechanically operable.

Purchasing a car is just one of the few large transactions you will make in your life. By purchasing a used car, you’ll avoid the significant depreciation that happens with new cars as soon as they’re driven off the lot. Still, when purchasing used, it’s a gamble. How do you know the vehicle hasn’t been involved in an accident or isn’t on the brink of a major component failure? A Carfax Vehicle History Report is a great start and can provide details on accident history, maintenance records, and odometer fraud, but it can’t tell you everything. We’ve created a used car buying checklist with tips from start to finish, including items that you should have a trusted mechanic inspect and review before you complete your purchase. A mechanic will either give you the green light to complete the purchase, caution you against it, or advise you on what needs to be repaired to help negotiate a better price.

Do Your Research – Make a list of the makes and models of vehicles you’re interested in buying. Research the vehicles looking for common defects, any active recalls, and any required maintenance or repairs. With this information, you’ll be more apt to find a bargain because you’ll be informed ahead of time of any inadequacies and how to use them to your advantage.

Get a Fair and Accurate Price – Year of production, mileage, features, and conditions can positively or negatively affect a car’s value. This is important to understand as the same model may cost more or less depending on these attributes.

Ask Questions – Find out more about the car by asking the seller questions such as:

  • How many people have owned the vehicle?
  • Why is the car for sale?
  • What is the condition of the vehicle?
  • What is the current mileage listed on the odometer?
  • Can I see the vehicle history report?

See For Yourself – Inspect the vehicle visually looking for any signs of neglect or damage. This includes looking for signs of flood damage such as a musty or mildew smell or any bodywork that would indicate the vehicle was in a major collision. Check the conditions of the tires and check under the car for any visible leaks.

Take It for a Spin – Test the car in a few different conditions and areas including parking lots, on the road, and on freeways where you can drive over 65 MPH. While on the drive, test things such as the headlights, turn signals, radio, air conditioning, brakes, windshield wipers, and the alignment.

Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection – Take the vehicle to a trusted, impartial auto center for a full evaluation of the vehicle’s condition. The automotive center will test all electronic devices and lights, as well as a good look under the hood to ensure everything else is in proper order. The shop will advise you as to whether it’s a sound investment or to continue your search. Either way, it will be the best money you spend to ensure the vehicle isn’t a lemon.

Your Partner For Vehicle Purchases

While we can’t help you with laundry or filing your taxes, Sun Auto Service is your ally when it comes to your preowned vehicle purchase. We offer a Used Car Pre-Purchase Inspection at all of our many convenient locations. Our inspection includes a test drive, a full multi-point check of the brakes, suspension and steering, tire condition, all areas of the drivetrain, lights, and belts and hoses. The vehicle will also receive a test of all electronic devices including the sunroof, windows, radio, and more. A Carfax maintenance history report will be reviewed to view past repair and maintenance services to let you know if the car is up to date with all maintenance services as recommended by the manufacturer. Our Service Consultants will review the results of the inspection and maintenance report with you and provide their honest recommendation on whether you should proceed with the vehicle purchase or to pass. You can trust Sun Auto Service to provide the most honest and detailed report of the vehicle with our Pre-Purchase Inspection service. Bring the vehicle in or call to schedule an appointment today!