What To Look For When Buying A Used Car?

When choosing to buy a car, many look towards purchasing a used vehicle so they can save on cost. However, one drastic difference between buying a new and a used car is that the latter doesn’t always come with legal protections. So, it falls onto the buyer to ask the questions that can get them useful information about the car. Hence the question – what exactly should you look out for when looking to buy a new car?

Key Takeaways:

  • A Vehicle History Report can allow you to gather information about the history of a used car.
  • Close examination of the surface of the car can help rule out paint or rusting issues.
  • Keeping an eye out for misalignment and DIY fixes can help you avoid a damaged car frame.
  • Make sure the car engine is functional to keep you going on your journeys.
  • Rule out tire issues so you are safe while driving the car
  • Check the car electronics to ensure they are in working condition
  • Don’t ignore the car seating, as replacing upholstery can be costly.
  • Always carry out a complete VIN check to get more information on a used car before making a purchase.

The Main Things To Consider When Purchasing A Used Car

When you are considering buying a car that has already been used, it can be confusing to understand what areas you need to focus on and consider in your purchase. In this section, let’s look at the most important pieces of information that can affect your decision to buy a vehicle.

What Has The Car’s History Been Like?

You may have already asked the seller about the history of the car, or they might even give you information regarding some of the car’s history by default. However, history is one of the most important parts of information-seeking when getting a car that has already been used.

If the current owner has not given you enough information, you can still get some of the facts by asking them more questions about the car. While we will get to talking about the condition and the status of the car, having more knowledge is essential so you can make an informed decision.

In case you need even more information than what the seller is giving you, the key is to gather as much data as possible – you can do this through a VIN check of the car you are trying to purchase. To do this, all you will need is the car’s VIN number, along with a VIN check site, to get you this information as easily as possible.

With a VIN check on hand, you can gather information from a Vehicle History Report, which can give you data such as the accident history, the ownership history, and even if there have ever been loans or liens on the car that need to be paid.

Another valuable piece of information to get is the car model recall history, so you are aware of the potential issues that can come up when you get this car.

Is There Any Damage To The Pain Or Rust?

Next up, let’s get to the physical examination of the car in question. One of the best ways to do this is to take a walk around the car you are interested in and note any important details. Keep an eye out for rust, paint damage, and any other forms of damage, such as bent doors, cracks, and scratches on the car.

Pay special attention to rust, as small patches can easily be taken care of, but larger rust patches need a lot more work. This can easily become a more expensive fix-up depending on the car’s status. Small paint scratches and gentle signs of damage are also easily fixable and probably won’t cost you a lot when you go to the mechanic.

However, what you need to keep an eye out for are larger signs of paint damage, such as:

  • Large patches of rust cover most of the car.
  • Major paint damage that will require a complete fix-up.
  • Larger dents will need major replacements on the car.
  • Major peeling, scratching, or paint fading issues.

Unless this is a car that you are very interested in, or you don’t mind the look of the car, it will be better to look for alternatives in these cases, as the cost of fixing them can be immense.

Are There Any Issues With The Car Frame?

So, you are doing your walk around the potential car you will buy – what else should you check? Why not pay close attention to the car frame? Think of the car’s frame as its bone structure – and we all know how much a fracture can disrupt our ability to function. Also, take the initiative to feel the car, making sure you look out for uneven surfaces.

So take some time out to look for potential frame issues. These can include:

  • Bumpers that are no longer aligned with each other.
  • A major uneven stance on the car.
  • Parts that feel like they were badly reattached.
  • New nuts and bolts in places you don’t expect.

All of these can be a sign that there was a DIY repair on the car frame, which inhibits its ability to deliver and function as the seller has promised you.

After all, you need a solid frame to be able to use your car on a daily basis without having to spend a lot of money. You can also double-check your intuition with a VIN check to make sure what the accident history of the car is.

Is The Engine Working As It Should?

If the frame is the bones of your car, then the engine is the car’s heart and soul. While checking what the car is like, it is absolutely essential to examine the engine’s status, as that can tell you everything you need to know about the car’s potential value.

When looking at the car, don’t hesitate to open up the hood and look at the engine’s status below. You should absolutely keep an eye out for things that can immediately stand out. This includes the signs of leaks or rust, along with damage and wear and tear on the hoses and belts of the car engine. This will tell you all you need to know about the car.

Keep in mind a few tips and tricks when you check the car engine:

  • There should be no discoloration in the dipsticks.
  • The oil in the engine should be a lighter brown color.
  • Transmission fluid should look red or pink.

Are The Car Tires In Working Condition?

Your car tires are essentially what will take you where you need to. To stay safe out on the road, you need to check the quality of the tires and that the treads are even and good quality. Having the right tires will make sure that you don’t encounter unnecessary accidents and risks when you are out on the open road.

One of the biggest problems that can come up with the car’s tires is an issue with alignment. Not only is this incredibly unsafe, but it can cause unnecessary stress on the other parts of the car, such as your car frame, the steering system, or the car’s suspension. The biggest fear of this kind of car is that you can lose control while you are driving.

Therefore, keep an eye on the condition of the tires, and make sure there are no serious issues such as improper maintenance, patches, signs of leakage, misalignment, and much more. A little bit of caution when purchasing a used vehicle can get you a long way!

Is The Mileage Appropriate For The Car’s Age

If you want to get information on how far the car has been traveling before you end up purchasing it, one of the best ways to get information on that is to check the car’s mileage. Mileage helps you know the car’s condition, and an idea of how much mileage a car can pick up in a year can tell you how well-maintained – or unmaintained the car is.

On average, a car will have a mileage of about 20,000 kilometers over the course of a year, so you can divide the mileage of the car by the age that the car is at. This will let you know how much it has been driven and can give key insights about the condition of the car.

More mileage isn’t always a bad thing – but do keep in mind that the higher the mileage, the more you will have to spend on maintaining the car. This is because a car that has been driven more will have greater wear and tear than a car that has been driven a lot. As long as you are comfortable with this knowledge, you can make better decisions with your purchase.

Are The Electronics Inside Functional?

Don’t we all enjoy the act of rolling down our car windows and leveling up the volume so we can enjoy our favorite hits from the biggest pop stars in the world? In fact, many drivers say that there is no greater feeling than doing just that, especially when out on the open road.

This is why it is essential to make sure that the used car has the electronic systems that you need to be able to use when you are navigating across the road:

  • stereo to play music
  • air conditioning and heating
  • screen and navigation system

You can take a few simple steps to make sure that the systems are all working, which means that you can now enjoy smooth music, ac, etc. While this may not always be the biggest priority, checking to make sure that they are functional can help make your car journeys much more fun.

Will The Car Need Complete Upholstery?

The inside of the car matters just as much as the outside. Consider the fact that you and your family or friends are going to be sitting inside the car. So, always pay attention to the status of the seats inside the car, along with the fabric that is inside.

Once the wear and tear happen in the car, it can be incredibly hard to take back. Each of the surfaces of the car will need to be inspected, cleaned, and replaced with new upholstery, which can be quite a cost to consider. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Tears
  • Stains
  • Cracks
  • Burns
  • Mold

Make sure to examine all of the seats of the car, including the front and the back. Check other areas like headrests and hand rests, so you are aware of what you are signing up for when you purchase a used car.

How Can A VIN Check Help When Getting A Used Car?

A VIN check is a good way to make sure that you are aware of the vehicle’s current status and previous settings. This is especially true if you are worried that the car has been in an accident before or if there are any continuing liens on the car that you will have to cover.

Aside from this, a VIN check will also tell you information about the car including who has owned it, what brand recall history looks like, and much more. VIN check sites do this by decoding the VIN and then cross-referencing it with databases that can give you data on each car.

There are plenty of VIN check websites that you can use to get more information on a used car before you make a purchase. Here are some of the best options out there, so why not start now and get more information on a used car before you commit to it?


Looking for a used car doesn’t have to be scary or limiting – with proper preparation and complete knowledge of what to look for, you can test out the perfect used car for your needs.

Whether you’re looking for a reliable road trip companion or just want a vehicle that is comfortable and easy to drive, a used car can be a great option. With these tips in mind, you are sure to find the perfect used car for your needs. Good luck!

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