A Used Car Buyer’s Checklist

The old adage that a new car begins depreciating as soon as you drive it off the lot is true. That’s why many drivers prefer to buy used cars. You can find quality vehicles that will last for years to come without spending an arm and a leg in the process.

Of course, you do want to avoid buying a lemon that will break down and leave you stranded. Here are the leading things to look for when buying a used car.

Vehicle history

Finding out as much information about the specific car you’re considering purchasing is a smart idea. Start by getting the vehicle identification number (VIN) and putting it into CARFAX or another similar service. This will show whether the car has been in an accident, whether there are any liens against it and whether the model has any recalls in place.

Take a test drive

These days, online used car services are pushing “new” ways of buying a car without taking it for a test drive. While you can often return these vehicles if you’re dissatisfied, it’s still a better option to never buy a car you don’t like in the first place.

When you do test drive a car, take some time to analyze the experience. Did the ignition work properly, or did it take a couple of tries to start up? Did the car make any noises or shake during acceleration? How responsive were the brakes? When you want to know what to look for when buying a used car, a test drive will help and can save you a lot of hassle.

Check the exterior

Take a minute to inspect the car’s exterior. Look for any rust spots or paint flaking. Check to ensure the car is level to the ground. Inspect the bumpers and hood. Make sure the headlights are working. Look at the tires to see if their treads are even. If any of these items aren’t right, you can request a discount on the car’s price.


Making sure the odometer reading matches the number of miles advertised is another item to include on your checklist of things to look for when buying a car. A car with higher mileage should have a discounted price. More miles on a car means more wear and tear on its components.

Inspect the interior

Inside the car, look for rips or stains on the upholstery. Check that the heating and cooling systems work well. Go through everything that can be turned on—interior lights, windshield wipers, audio system, turn signals, etc. Lower and raise the power windows as well. Note any warning signals that pop up on the dashboard.

Pop the hood

Take a look at the car’s engine and fluid levels. The coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid should all be full.

Better still, take the car to a trusted mechanic. They know what to look for when buying a used car. Qwest Automotive Service is a family owned and operated shop known for honest, upfront customer service. We do it all, from radiator repair to brake replacement and engine rebuilding. Give us a call today and request a free estimate.