Courtesy of: Same Day Auto Service

A used vehicle should always be inspected by a competent automotive technician before negotiating price. The following is a partial list of items to check before paying for a complete inspection. Be sure to write down everything you notice before taking it to your auto repair shop for inspection. Giving these notes to your auto repair shop before starting the inspection will greatly improve the evaluation process. Most of these items will not automatically rule out purchasing the vehicle, but can definitely affect the purchase price of the vehicle.

  1. Telephone interview (Is this car worth looking at?)
    1. How many miles are on the vehicle? Color? Automatic or 5 speed?
    2. Is the title clean (not reconstructed or totaled)? Original owner?
    3. Has the vehicle been wrecked? (less important on an older vehicle)
    4. Has the vehicle been smoked in?
    5. Do you have a dog or cat?
    6. Do you have all of the service records?
    7. How much oil does it use between oil changes? (1 quart is acceptable)
    8. Does it need any mechanical or body repairs?
  2. Interior condition
    1. Does it smell like cigarettes or animals?
    2. Are there cigarette burns on the carpet or door panels?
    3. Has it recently been cleaned to hide smells?
    4. Does it smell musty from mildew?
    5. Look under seats and in trunk for signs of mud, rust, or silt.
  3. Exterior condition
    1. Look for signs of body damage. Is there paint overspray on tires or window seals?
    2. Is there excessive rust showing on bolts under the hood or under the vehicle?
    3. What kind of condition are the tires in? Are all 4 the same brand?
  4. Engine compartment
    1. Pull oil dipstick. Is the dipstick black (not the oil on it)?
    2. If possible, remove oil cap and inspect inside engine. Is it clean?
  5. Test drive
    1. Does the engine rattle when cold, warmed up or all the time?
    2. Is there smoke coming from tail pipe when it’s cold? (condensation is normal when cold) Any smoke when revving engine after it’s warmed up?
    3. Does it steer straight?
    4. Are there any unusual noises while driving?
    5. Are any of the dash warning lights on?
    6. Does everything work? Lights, turn signals, wipers, air conditioner, heater, windows, etc