Before You Buy
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a car if you’re not prepared. Before you even start looking for your new ride, use these resources to make decisions and develop a plan.
Used Vehicle Checklist
When purchasing a used vehicle, you want to make sure you’re still getting a good quality vehicle. This checklist is not meant to replace a proper inspection from a licensed mechanic. This checklist should be used to make sure there aren’t any glaring issues before taking it for an in-depth inspection.
- Is the windshield free of cracks?
- Does the paint color match all over vehicle?
- Are the tires the same brand and size?
- Does the tread and wear look even on the tires?
- Are there any scratches or dents in the body?
- Do the windshield wipers work? Windshield wiper fluid?
- Do the headlights work? Brake lights? Turn signals?
- Do you see any fluid leaking under the vehicle? Look when the car is both on and off.
- Does the trunk open and close smoothly?
- Do the doors lock and the windows work?
- Are the seats in good condition?
- Does the car smell like smoke or pets? Or is there a strong smell of air freshener that may be covering up smells?
- Does the air conditioning work? How long does it take to cool down? Any smell?
- Does the heater work? How long does it take to heat up? Any smell?
- Does the stereo and all the stereo controls work?
- Do all the seatbelts work?
During the test drive…
- Does the front end shake or vibrate at higher speeds?
- Does the steering wheel vibrate at any point?
- Are there any weird noises when the car is at a standstill? When you accelerate?
- If you let go of the steering wheel, does the vehicle pull to one side?
- Any noise when you brake?
If you feel good about the vehicle after the walk around and the test drive, ask to take it to a licensed mechanic for a complete inspection. If a seller hesitates to let you take it to a mechanic, it’s probably best to walk away from the sale.