The Ultimate Checklist When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can be a smart decision if you follow the expert’s advice. It is not as daunting as exiting and entering into a new relationship, though it may come close. Today, many cars are made to last. Roads are smoother, wear and tear are limited. Buying a second-hand car can be based on a financial decision.

The first challenge is to choose the make and model that you desire. The second one is to dig and calculate your budget. 

Dealership/Place to buy

There are thousands of dealers all around the city or state you live in. If we take Las Vegas as an example, you’ll find that the market for second-hand cars is huge out there. That’s why, if you are searching for used cars in Las Vegas, it’s important to make sure that the dealer is reliable and well known. Perhaps, your family and friends have already experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. When you surf on the internet, you should check for the reviews about the dealer. Secondly, do not get swayed by the very first dealer you visit. A dealer’s aim is to sell the car no matter what. Keep your options open.

Condition of the car

So, you are not a mechanic or auto engineer; it is rather difficult to know and understand the innards of the car. Apparently, all used-cars look inviting and in perfect mint condition, if you were to believe that slick dealer. There are two ways of approaching that dilemma. One is to know a good friendly auto-mechanic in your neighborhood, who may accompany you against a small fee. It will be worthwhile. Alternatively, you may pull up your sleeves and get down to follow the basic checklist.


Check the odometer, note down the mileage. Compare the mileage with the service record. Does the condition of the car generally match the mileage and age of the car? Check the telltale signs like worn out parts. 

Accident history

You should seek clear answers about the accidents the car might have had. Any indication of mismatch colors, dents, inconsistent gaps, handles, windows and plastic parts are all signs that the car had an accident. Another way of verifying it is through the insurance records. If you were to notice that the car was salvaged, simply walk away. 


This is the most important and complex part of your used-car examination. The first step is to start the engine and notice if the ignition is perfect. Push the accelerator a few times. That gives the sign that the power plugs are in good working condition. Check all the lights on the dashboard. Now, go out and look at the emission from the exhaust pipe. It should not be gray, black or excessive. Open the hood and observe if the engine is stable and not shaky. Verify from the service records when fan belt, engine and brake oil, plugs, filters and other parts were changed. 


Check the airbags, hand brakes, indicators and hazard lights, seat adjustment mechanism, GPS if fitted, sound system, windscreen wipers, electric mirrors, windows, air-conditioning, alarm system and dashboard indicators. 


After having satisfied yourself with all the above and a test drive, it is time to look at the integrity of documents. These include registration, insurance and premium payments, service and tax records. Verification is the key.  

Using the checklist provided above, you should walk into the process of getting a second hand much with much more confidence. Just be sure that you do your research well and have all the specs down so you know what you’re dealing with.

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