Buying a Pre-owned Car: Here Are Important Checks to Spot a Quality Car

Purchasing a pre-owned/used car can often net you significant savings on the car price. That being said, there’s also the risk of buying a car with poor quality or even accident damage when you choose pre-owned. That’s why it’s important to know what to look out for when choosing a quality used car. Let’s take a look at all the important checks you should do when buying a used car.

Woman buying car at dealer

Inspect the Condition of the Exterior

The first thing to check when determining the quality of a used car is its exterior condition. Besides looking out for large scratches and dents, there are other subtler points to examine which can give you a good idea of the car’s quality.

  • Check the panel gaps: Uneven gaps between the body panels could indicate that the car has been in an accident. It’s also a sign of low-quality bodywork. Besides being unsightly, severe panel gap issues can lead to rain or wind entering the cabin. If left unsolved, they can even cause damage to other car parts such as other body panels, hinges, and tires.
  • Check the paint finish: You can tell a lot about the quality of a used car from its paint finish. Make sure the paint on the different panels (doors, fenders, or bonnet) match each other as mismatched paint could mean that a part of the car has been repainted after an accident. Also, bubbling paint spots could mean that a rushed paint job was done on a rusty spot.
  • Look out for rust: Common rust spots include the roof, wheel arches, undercarriage, and the engine bulkhead (the panel that separates the engine bay from the passenger compartment). Be wary if there’s a lot of rust as that could indicate extensive damage.
  • Make sure everything works: A simple but often overlooked check when buying a used car involves checking the doors, lights, bonnet, and boot. Test each part and make sure that the doors open and lock properly, and that all lights are functioning.

Read More: 6 Car Inspection Secrets Shared by CARSOME Inspectors

Check the Tires

Many buyers don’t realize that tires can tell you a lot about the quality of a used car. In fact, you can learn about the condition of the car’s suspension system and owner’s maintenance habits, among other things. When inspecting the tires, check for uneven wear, damage such as punctures, cuts, scratches, or bulges, tire age, and the depth of the tire treads.

To check a tire’s age, look at the last four numbers after the “DOT” symbol on the tires. The first two of the numbers identify the week the tire was manufactured (ranging from “01” to “53”), while the last two numbers identify the manufacture year. For example, a tire with the information “DOT XXXX XXX 2120” was manufactured in the 21st week of 2020.

code on tire sidewall

[Image source: edmunds.com]

Read More: Tires: How to Tell a Good Used Car from a Bad One

Examine the Engine

Another vital check when buying a used car is on the engine. Checking the engine can seem intimidating but is actually pretty straightforward. Here are some basic checks you should carry out:

  • Check the fluid levels: First, check that the fluids (engine oil, radiator coolant, brake fluid, transmission oil) are at the correct level and are clean. Make sure that there are no leaks around the engine and nothing leaking to the floor.
  • Check the battery connections: If the battery connections are corroded, it could be a sign of leaking battery fluid, overcharging, or simply an old battery. The corrosion on the battery terminals can be fixed by cleaning them and putting in a new battery, but you should also check the battery cables for damage as it’s common alongside corroded terminals.
  • Look at the overall engine condition: Look at the hoses, wires, wire clamps, nuts, and bolts in the engine compartment. Make sure they’re all in good shape, ie. they’re not brittle, stiff, and not held together with tape. If you spot nuts, bolts, or screws that are new or look out of place, it’s worth identifying why they were replaced.

Test the Air Conditioning & Other Interior Features

Since you’ll be spending most of your time inside the car, it’s important to inspect the condition and test the interior features of the car. Turn on the engine and test all the switches and knobs including the air conditioning, USB charging port, wipers, power windows, cabin lights, hazard lights, instrument panel lights, and infotainment system.

You should also look out for warning lights on the instrument cluster and have them addressed by the seller. The interior trim such as the carpet, fabric, and leather upholstery greatly influences the comfort and quality of a used car. Therefore, be sure to check the headliner, door panels, carpets, dashboard, and seats for signs of moisture or mold. 

Woman adjusting rearview mirror

Take It for a Thorough Test Drive 

Before you take the car for a test drive, check that start-up and idling are smooth, and that there are no odd sounds coming from the engine. When on the road, look out for engine jerking, misfiring, or weird sounds. Also, make sure that the steering and suspension are working smoothly, and of course, test the brakes. It’s also important to look out for any burning smell as this could mean serious issues with the engine. 

These checks might look simple, but they are a proven way to catch most issues in a used car. If you’re planning to buy a used car without the risk of getting a damaged vehicle, let CARSOME help you. 

Read More: How CARSOME Refurbishes Pre-owned Cars at CARSOME Certified Lab 

Choose CARSOME Certified for Complete Peace of Mind

CARSOME promises quality used/pre-owned cars as we put all our cars through a stringent 175-point inspection that covers the exterior, interior, underbody, and road test to rule out major accidents and flood damage. CARSOME Certified cars then undergo a professional refurbishment process to ensure they have safety beyond standards, complete comfort, and refurbished aesthetics.

Additionally, each CARSOME Certified car offers excellent value with the following promises.

  • Fixed price: The listing price you see on CARSOME is the actual full price of the car with no hidden fees, so you know exactly how much you’re paying.
  • Five-day money-back guarantee: If you buy a car from CARSOME and change your mind, You can return it within five days and get a full refund. No questions asked!
  • One-year warranty: All CARSOME Certified cars also have a one-year extended warranty for your peace of mind.

Check out CARSOME to find your dream car today!