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Conducting a Used Car Inspection The Right Way

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Buying A Used Car

If you are planning to purchase a used vehicle, thoroughly inspecting it is an important step. You want to ensure that you are getting a well-maintained and safe car for a good price. There are many unscrupulous people out there who might attempt to pull one over on you by not revealing the vehicle’s not-so-great past. Before you purchase a car, the best thing you can do for yourself is to have a trusted auto mechanic by your side.

Pick a mechanic you know well, or with a good reputation from individuals you trust. While the cost of a car inspection may not be insignificant, it can save you a lot in the long haul. However, before investing in a professional mechanic opinion, there are several things you can do to help decide whether it is worth taking to an auto shop.

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Exterior Inspection

1. Paint

Carefully check the paint for scratches, rust and dents. Feel along the edges between panels for any roughness. Rust should be easy to spot if you take the time to look for it. Ideally, look at the sides of the vehicle from the back or front to assess whether there are any waves in the body. If so, it means that a paint job has been done, which you will want to ask the dealer or owner about.

2. Glass

Walk around the car and carefully look at all the glass to ensure there are no big, cratered areas or cracks. You don’t have to be worried too much about small chips, but you’ll want to use them as a bargaining chip when negotiating the final price. On the contrary, cracks will only get worse and will call for expensive repairs in the future.

3. Check The Suspension On Even Ground

Checking the suspension when buying a used car is a vital step. Stand back from the vehicle and see if it is sagging or slumping anywhere. Push down on each corner of the vehicle and of the shock absorbers are in ideal condition, it should rebound just once. However, if it continues to move up and down, something might be wrong. Also, tug on the top of the front wheels. Listen for clicking sounds and feel for any movement. If you hear or feel anything, chances are the wheel bearing or suspension joint is broken.

4. Check The Tires

There’s a lot you can learn by checking the tires alone. Ensure that you take a closer look at tire wear. More often than not, a vehicle with a mileage of less than 20,000 miles will still have the original tires. If the vehicle has new tires and very low mileage, this is a good sign of odometer rollback.

The tread wear should be even across the tire width on both sides of the vehicle. Heavy wear on the exterior shoulders of the front wheels is an indicator of aggressive driving.


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Lastly, ensure that you check the alignment. You can easily fix bad alignment, but it’s something you’ll want to be aware of when negotiating the price. Also, ensure you get the alignment fixed as soon as you buy the car as it can lead to uneven wearing and make it harder to steer.

5. The Engine

This is a section that you will want to have checked by a reputable mechanic, but for a quick glance, here are a few things to bear in mind:

Thoroughly check for signs of corrosion or leaks. While running, take a look at the transmission dipstick to ensure that the transmission is entirely filled. The fluid ought to be red or pink. It might be darker for older models, but shouldn’t look or smell burnt.

6. Lights

Obviously, the headlights and brake lights need to function properly. Also, make sure that all reflectors and lenses are not fogged with moisture, damaged or missing altogether.

The Car Interior

1. Odometer

Every used car inspection includes checking the odometer. Usually, low-mileage is the first thing that individuals look at when purchasing a vehicle. An average driver will accumulate between 9500 miles to 25000 miles per year. However, keep in mind that there are many variables to consider in this regards. A vehicle’s age isn’t just measured by mileage; time is ideally a factor. A 10-year-old vehicle with relatively few miles on the clock does not automatically mean it is a good thing.

2. Brakes

When test driving at a higher speed, press the brakes hard enough to test them. Do not slam them too hard to skid, but to ensure that in case of an emergency, they will be reliable. Ensure you do this in an open space such as an empty parking lot.

Of course, these are not the only things to check during a car inspection, but they will help ensure that you’re getting a dependable used vehicle. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to take the car to a mechanic for a thorough inspection if you decide to make the purchase of used or repo car.

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