Checklist Guide To Buying Used Car

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Before buying a used car the first ultimate thing to do is to invite a mechanic to check it up. Certainly, that may cost you, however you will be informed about all problems you may face with this car, thus you will be able to decide whether it is worth to buy.

However, it is not always possible to have necessary specialist beside you, that is why you need to know by yourself of  how to check used car before purchasing it. And following checklist will be a right tool to help you to examine a car comprehensively.

It is highly recommended to print it and check car in place marking point after point  all applicable information so that not to forget or overlook anything before making  decision as to buy it or not.


In order to implement check process under checklist you need to use following  things :

  • note book and pencil to fix information about the car like production year, price, operational kilometers, vehicle identification code;
  • paper napkins to check the engine;
  • little flashlight to check any damage or corrosion under the car;
  • little magnet to unveil  concealed damages in car body;
  • cd to check stereo;

And here, the  checklist itself :


External examination.

  1. Windshield glass without damages and fractures;
  2. Colors of all body panels are identical;
  3. Magnet is attracted to all steel panels;
  4. Fresh paint ( its presence may indicate arsenal of possible damages hidden);
  5. Trunk  and hood clearances are big and  smooth;
  6. Clearance between doors and wings are flat;
  7. Car body has  no cracks (if it has cracks, note this fact);
  8. Car body has no dents (if it has dents, note this fact);
  9. Screen wipers are in place and work well;
  10. Headlights and direction lights are undamaged  and function well;


  1. Tires should be of well-known brands (Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear)(preferably);
  2. All tires should be of the same make;
  3. Tires don’t have any cracks, damages, cuts, blisters;
  4. Protector is worn equally (if not that may indicate problems with balance and suspension);
  5. Spare tire, tire jack and tire wrench are available and ready to use;
  6. Spare tire is pumped up; 



  1. Leaks of process fluids, oils and petrol are not visibly indicated;
  2. Oil filler is not covered with thick layer of black deposits;
  3. Accumulator terminals don’t have any signs of corrosion;
  4. Dipstick has no black oil marks;
  5. When the engine works you don’t feel any irrelevant smells;
  6. Exhaust gas shouldn’t be of blue color(that signifies oil burning) or black color (that may a sign of excessive fuel consumption;


  1. Car stands right;
  2. When you push on the cur’s angles, there is no creak sounds;
  3. When you push on the cur’s angles, everything reacts similarly;

Internal bodywork.

  1. Seats are not worn out and without cracks;
  2. All doors open and close smoothly;
  3. Trunk opens and closes easily;
  4. You don’t smell sharp odor of refresher(that can hide something);
  5. All indicators work as appropriate;
  6. Any of the indicator lights is not   activated  on dashboard;
  7. Stereo is working;
  8. Heater is up and running;
  9. Conditioning in a working order;
  10. Screen wipers in a working order;
  11. Glass cleaner liquid is given easily;
  12. All seat are equipped with working seatbelts;
  13. All seatbelts are adjusted well;
  14. Window raisers are running well;
  15. Sun roof is opening and closing well(if applicable);
  16. Signalization system works fine(if applicable);
  17. Key normally opens and closes trunk and driver’s door;
  18. Emergency lights are functioning well;
  19. Front lights along with  side lights  and day running lights are functioning well;

An unidentified potential car buyer test the keys of a Toyota SUV while Innocent Nwabioku who is a car dealer far left, looks at stickers on the car displayed for sale at the Berger used car market in Apapa area, Lagos Nigeria Friday 17 Dec. 2010. The Berger car market is one of the largest used car markets in Nigeria with used cars coming from the United States of America and Europe. Photo:  George Osodi for Wall Street Journal

Body of the car.

  1. Car’s chassis is not broken down or dented;
  2. Inside the trunk, there is no sign of metal refreshment or mashing;

Automatic transmission.

  1. Transmission fluid  is clear, without dirt or sand (otherwise it may indicate possible internal problems  with transmission);
  2. Transmission doesn’t slip and  delay   during driving process;
  3. Gear shifting works well;
  4. There is no grating sound when downshift is implemented;



  1. When putting on the brakes, vehicle continues moving straight, without any incline aside;
  2. Car can be easily putted on and  taken off  the parking brake;
  3. When you are applying the brake pedal, you don’t hear  grating sound;
  4. Wheels are not blocking in case of anti-lock braking system, (if applicable);

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Steering control.

  1. Car doesn’t move aside without turning the wheel;
  2. Car is running steadily;
  3. There is no shaking or vibration;
  4. When operating steering wheel you don’t feel any resistance  while making a turn ;
  5. While making a turn, you don’t hear any clicks or squeak;
  6. Other aspects that should be considered;
  7. Car service  manual is available in glovebox;
  8. All accessories are accompanied with  relevant instructions;
  9. You must be presented with coherently documented information about servicing and repairing  of the car;


Another advices

  1. Go away if dealer doesn’t let you examine the car;
  2. Don’t be hurry and confused while examining the car;
  3. It would be perfect, if you could find possibility to invite technician to check it out  and give you relevant assessment results  (list of discovered defects);
  4. Be adviced that any defects or failures discovered may become reason  for a  discount;

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