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Used Car Checklist

What to Consider When Buying a Pre-owned Vehicle

Having a used car checklist is paramount when purchasing a used vehicle. Pre-owned vehicles are far more affordable than new automobiles.

Although, used vehicles value have significantly increased in the past 2 years. That increase has come from the new vehicle shortages created from the pandemic.

That being said, you should consider several things when purchasing such a vehicle. All these things make up the used car checklist. They will help you get a vehicle that is safe to drive and has no legal issues.

Therefore, changing ownership will not be an arduous task. So, what exactly are the things you should look out for?

Use this used car checklist to assist you in your buying decision.

Used Car Checklist


It is essential to ensure that the car’s tires meet the standards set. The easiest way to do this is by simply kicking them. Moreover, you can also stick over a certain duration to ensure that they are not leaking any air. Some of the things you should look out for as pertaining tires include;

The size of the tires – Does the size of the tires correspond with the size and model of the car?

The thickness of the threads.

The tire pressure at that particular time, and the optimal and maximum pressure.

Ensure that there is a spare tire

Tires may not be as big a concern as the other factors we are about to list. However, you must check on them since they will contribute to the tire budget.

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The Bodywork

The chassis’ condition is also something you have to pay particular attention to. Some of the things you will have to consider include.

How is the bodywork?

Do the wheels have any sign of curbing?

Are there any dents and scratches?

Make sure you conduct this check during the day.

Panel gaps

It is also essential to check on the condition of its panels.

Large panel gaps are an indication that the vehicle was involved in a crash that required some extensive repair.

Color differences in the panels; also indicate that the vehicle has undergone some major repairs.

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Fluid levels

Make sure that you open the bonnet and check on the fluid levels, including;

Power steering fluid


Brake fluid

Leaks of any kind.

If any of these is low, the car has not undergone proper maintenance. Ensure that you check underneath the car too.

Used Car Checklist


Checking the electronics and infotainment systems of the vehicle is vital. Make sure that:

The windows go up and down fully.

The radio is functioning properly.

The air conditioning is working fine.


Does the windscreen have any chippings? They could, after some time, turn into cracks, and thus the whole windscreen may have to be replaced.

Do the chippings happen to be in the driver’s eye-line? This may contradict road safety rules.

Make sure that you check the front and rear lights. They should not have any fogging, chips, cracks, or internal moisture.


It is also vital to ensure that the car’s interior looks good.

Make sure that no stains are present.

The car does not smell.

The seat lining is okay.

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Gearbox and clutch

The gearbox and the clutch, if it is a manual car, should be considered. You should make sure that:

There is smoothness in the gear transitions.

Ascertain the clutch’s biting point.

Wear and tear

Second-hand cars are bound to have experienced some wear and tear. The task is to check to what extent the wear and rear have taken place.

Check the mileage.

Ask and ascertain the car’s age.

If the car has low mileage, but the steering wheel, driver’s seat, and pedals are worn out, you should tread carefully.


There are a couple of documents you should not only see but physically touch and ascertain that they are real and legal. They include

The logbook, also known as the registration document or the V5C

The Vehicle Identification Number can be seen on the lower section of the windscreen on the outside.

The name and legal information of the person selling the car to you.

The physical address of the person selling the car.

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Service And Repair History

Request to see all repair and maintenance paperwork.

You should also conduct a history check on both the car and the owner of the car.

Make sure that you know about all the breakdowns that the car has had since it was brand new.

Ascertain the running costs of the car, as well as the model and make.

Conduct a general independent car review, as well as the car’s valuation.

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The test drive

You need to conduct a couple of test drives before buying a second-hand car. While doing so, ensure you note the following:

The vehicle can start okay.

The temperature gauge when the car starts.

That the clutch is functioning properly.

The transmission; gear selection is easy if the car is manual, and if automatic, the gear changes are okay.

The steering wheel is smooth.

The suspension is working the way it should.

The engine is not making any sounds.

The brakes are working.

Do you like the car and driving it?

Don’ts when buying a used car

Do not let price be the only deciding factor when shopping for a used car.

The lower-priced cars always have an issue. So don’t be a mincer and go for the bargain over quality.

Do not neglect research; make sure that you do your due diligence. There are some hidden flaws somewhere. So make sure you know everything about the car before you buy it.

Do not show your hand; this is a deal you are about to make. So, even if you are pleased with the car, ensure that you don’t reveal your hand until the final round.

Do not rush the process; good things take time, so slow down a bit.

Do not forget to check on the extra fees. Hidden fees can accumulate a lot. Therefore, be very mindful of them.

If you buy the vehicle from a car dealer, do not let them shop your application.

Do not focus on only the monthly payments.

Do not rely on any form of dealership financing; alternatively, you can go for credit unions, which have lower rates.

Do you have bad credit? Check This Out!

Do not confuse buying with shopping; buying is the final process of getting the car, while shopping is the actual research and identification of what you want.

Do not forget about rebates and promotions. Dealers have special incentives that may lower the price of the car significantly. Therefore, watch out for them.

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