How to Inspect a Used Car for Sale 

Buying a used car is a fantastic way to save money without sacrificing quality. The best used car dealerships stock an extensive, diverse range of vehicles catering to drivers of all tastes, lifestyles and budgets.  

If you’ve decided to invest in a pre-owned vehicle, you’ve made a smart choice; however, it’s vital to make sure you give prospective purchases just as much consideration as you would a brand new one. While dealerships will take great care to prepare their vehicles for sale and ensure they’re at their best, you should still spend time checking them over with a keen eye.  

Below, are some some professional tips to help you inspect a used car for sale properly before you buy. Speak to your dealer about examining vehicles and they’ll be only too happy to assist you.  

Check The Engine 

As we all know, the engine is an essential component of the car, so it’s vital to get your head under the hood and take a long look. One of the simplest potential issues to spot is a leak. Your engine and its compartment is home to a number of different fluids, and when you look them over there should be no signs of any leakages any where. Make sure you check underneath the vehicle also; if you do see any hints of oil or other fluids on the ground, it either has or had a leak.  

In the unlikely event you do find evidence that a leak is or has been an issue, don’t hesitate to raise this issue with the dealer. They may be willing to have it fixed or possibly offer you a discount to cover your cost to get it taken care of. The most reliable used car dealers will make sure engines are fully-inspected and in good operating condition before putting a vehicle up for sale, but you should still check for your own peace of mind.  

Study The Car’s Body From Front To Back  

Don’t just take a casual look at your prospective used car’s bodywork, get up close and personal. You want to look for any indications that the body has been repainted or replacement panels have been added, as these could suggest the vehicle has been damaged in an accident. Even the smallest dents or chips are worth asking about. Ideally, the paint color will be even over the entire car, so circle it a few times to be sure.  

Look for rust too. The early signs of this will be a bubbling beneath the paint, but it will eventually start to force through the surface and become more visible over time. Any rust should be attended to immediately. Again, reputable dealers will take care of rust beforehand. Ask your dealer about any accidents the vehicle may have been involved in, no matter how minor. Just because a car may have received minimal damage in a collision is no reason to overlook it. You can check the vehicle’s history, such as with CarFax Report, just to be sure.  

Finally, take a look at the indicators and lights, both front and back. Any damage should have been attended to before the vehicle was put up for sale, though the most minor cracks may be missed quite easily. Switch them on and off multiple times to make sure they all work.  

Explore the Interior Closely 

While the car’s body deserves a thorough examination, the interior condition of a used car plays a big part in its value too. Don’t be shy about climbing inside and exploring it from end to end. Start by sitting in each seat: are they all comfortable and stable, with the seat belts operating just as they should? Good seat belts are an essential safety precaution, so be thorough when checking their operation. If they’re hard to put on or seem as if they may pop out of place on their own, address this with the dealer.   

Pay attention to the seat adjustments and steering wheel too. Take a few moments to open and close the windows, and experiment with the mirror placements. How about the ventilation? Does it blow hot and cold properly? You have to make sure your potential new car is practical for you, and possibly family members, and accommodates your basic needs.  

Don’t Overlook The Wheels And Tires  

Never judge the wheels and tires with a quick glance: get on your knees and be thorough. Check all four of the wheels for any signs of damage and wear. While the odd graze or scratch is no big deal, any significant dents or bends could suggest replacements are in order. Don’t settle for wheels that look just ‘okay’. 

For the tires themselves, they should have no splits, bulges or cuts. Treads should have a minimum depth of 1.6 mm all the way around. Uneven wear could be an indication of weak suspension alignment, which would require fixing. Your dealer will likely replace unsuitable tires on request, but again, good used car dealerships will have taken care of that already.  

Go for A Test Drive  

A test drive is a must before finalizing the purchase This gives you a much better idea of how the car actually performs on the road than simply looking at it on a dealership lot. Take it on different types of roads, primarily those you’ll be traveling on most often, and make sure you feel comfortable with it. Drive it on the highway, city roads and quieter streets. Do the brakes make any grinding or scraping noises? Do they respond as quickly as you need them to, and do you feel comfortable with them?  

Does the engine run smoothly or can you hear suspicious noises? Pay attention to how the transmission shifts gears as you accelerate from a stop, and whether the car seems to jump a bit when you are stopped and shift between drive and reverse; does it feel smooth? Check the inside lights, the air conditioning and heating, the radio, and all the other little essentials. You have to feel satisfied that you’re getting real value for your money. Your dealer should be happy to accompany you on a test drive, so don’t be shy: just ask.  

Follow the tips above when evaluating a used car that catches your eye, and you’ll minimize your risk of missing an important issue. While ethical used car dealerships are committed to only stocking vehicles that offer good value for the money and meet drivers’ needs, you should always do a comprehensive inspection just to be sure nothing was inadvertently missed. 

At G&E Motors, we put every one of our vehicles through a rigorous115-point mechanical and safety inspection by our highly trained in-house technicians before putting them up for sale. Every car, truck, minivan, and SUV come with a free Carfax Report and a 30-Day or 1000-Mile Warranty to give our customers peace of mind with their new vehicle purchase. And we provide financing with Guaranteed Loan Approval for all credit scores.