If you are thinking about purchasing a used car, in addition to researching the type of car you want to purchase, you need to know how to inspect that car once you find it. A used car will have some wear and tear; it is important to tell if that wear and tear is worth the purchase price of the car.
The first and most easy thing to inspect on a used car is the exterior. You can easily inspect the exterior when you are just looking at the car, which will allow you to see if you want to get inside the vehicle.
First, you are going to want to check the body condition. Be on the lookout for scratches, dents, and signs of rust. Check the body panels, and make sure they line up. If the body panels don't line up or if the paint seems mismatched, the vehicle may have been in an accident and repaired. Signs of rust are troubling, as rust can compromise the integrity of the body of the vehicle.
Second, look at the tires. Make sure that the tires have a decent amount of tread on them. If the tires are bald or worn flat, use that to negotiate for a lower price on the car. Look out for signs of uneven tire wear, which is generally a sign of an alignment or suspension issue.
Third, check all the lights on the vehicle. Make sure they are working and that the housing for the lights is not damaged.
Next, you will want to examine the interior of the car to make sure it is in decent shape and that all items you will need to use still work.
Start by breathing in and notice the smell of the vehicle. A neutral or air-freshener smell is generally a sign the car was cleaned. Be wary of a musty or moldy smell, which may mean that the vehicle has experienced water damage. Also, be careful of a vehicle with an animal or a cigarette smell, as those smells can be difficult to get rid of.
Make sure the controls on the seat still work and that the seat is still comfortable. Check all the instruments in the vehicle and make sure they work. Inspect the roof and make sure it doesn't have signs of water damage.
Under the Hood
Finally, you are going to check under the hood. Make sure the fluid levels are where they should be. Check and see if the hoses and belts are in good condition.
Take the car for a test drive, and pay attention to how the vehicle handles, feels, and smells. Be wary of strange sounds and vibrations, as those are signs the vehicle has some mechanical issues that will need to be addressed.
When it comes to purchasing a used car, you can do an in-depth inspection of the car yourself, or you can pay an auto shop to inspect the car for you. Most used cars will have some wear and tear; it is important to understand what you are getting into so you make a wise investment.