So what do you look for before buying a used car? Making a purchase of a used car is an awesome way to save money on a vehicle purchase but it also comes with a whole bunch of risks.  A used car can be perfectly fine but it can also be a lemon and cost you more money that what you paid for it. Use this guide when buying a used vehicle so you get the most value for your money and avoid potential problems.  A used car can last you a long time if you know what to look for and make a wise purchasing decision on the vehicle.

The Car Body

One of the first things you should look at is the overall appearance of the car. Older cars won’t be in the best of shape in many cases and you can expect to see some scrapes and dings on them but you need to look over the vehicle for signs of serious body wear.  The car or truck you buy shouldn’t be full of rust on the body since this will indicate the vehicle has seen better days. On a work truck you will obviously see more damage to the body so this really won’t be much of a concern. In many areas a car or truck needs to pass an inspection so a rough body on the vehicle can make it difficult to pass the inspection. You’ll want a vehicle with minimal body wear if you need to get through an inspection. In some areas even a damaged bumper can make the vehicle fail the inspection. If you are handy and plan to fix up a damaged body then the condition of the car’s exterior really won’t matter as much to you. You still have to weigh the costs of repairs to the used vehicle before purchasing it. A vehicle in bad shape just means more money for you, unless you can get cheap parts for it. 

Under The Hood

Another place you should look when buying a used vehicle is under the hood. You need to check for worn hoses, corroded battery hoses and other signs of wear. Ask if the car can be turned on so you can hear the engine. A lot of blue smoke out the back end is a sure sign that there’s something not right with the vehicle. Listen for knocks and pings or anything that just doesn’t sound right. If possible ask to take the vehicle for a spin. When driving it you can check the steering and how the vehicle handles around corners and how it steers. You can apply pressure to the breaks and see if the break system is good enough. If you know someone who is a mechanic it can be a good idea to take them with you. A mechanic will be able to tell right away if there’s something seriously wrong with the vehicle. You don’t want to be saddled with a vehicle that will be a big money or time sink. Another point to consider is the miles on the vehicle. A car with a lot of miles might not be the best choice but that all depends upon how the rest of the car is. If a car is in great shape the miles might not matter to you. Look under the vehicle for signs of oil leaks which can indicate problems with the vehicle.


While the interior isn’t as important as the exterior in most cases, you still w ant a vehicle that’s going to be comfortable for you to operate.  Be sure you get in the seat and check how the car or truck feels to you.  If the inside is trashed it usually indicates an owner that didn’t look after the rest of the car too so keep that in mind. If the person was a smoker it can take quite a bit of work to get the smell out of the car. Check the seatbelts and make sure they are adequate and don’t have too much wear on them. Check the dashboard for signs of too much wear or things that are missing. Most of this is just cosmetic but it gives you a good indication of the overall condition of the vehicle you want to buy.

Previous Repairs

Ask the owner if they have any paperwork on recent repairs or just ask if there has been any recent work done on the car. A vehicle that has had a recent break job or new tires can save you a lot of initial expense on the car in the short-term and give you a vehicle that will last a while before it needs work again. An owner that doesn’t want to give you this information is someone you don’t want to deal with. The more you know about the vehicle the better it’s going to be for you as a buyer.

Haggle Before You Buy

Don’t just take the price the seller is asking for the vehicle. It’s up to you to get a fair price for the vehicle. Most sells will have some room in the price they want for the vehicle so work them down to what you feel is a fair offer.  When you are working out a price you can mention any problems you found with the vehicle which can help lower the price significantly for you.  Make sure you always do this is a clam and friendly manner and tell them that you’re interested in the vehicle but you want a fair offer for it. You want to sink as little money as possible into a used car, especially if it’s going to require additional repairs to get it into good working condition. Most sellers will be happy to cut a bargain with you. If the price isn’t going to work for you just walk away and find something else in your price range.

Be Careful Before Buying a Used Car

Make note of these points when you are looking to buy a used car or truck.  If you know what to look for before buying a used car you’ll save yourself some expensive headaches down the road and you might just get a decent vehicle for less money. Look at the body, interior of the car and pay attention to how it sounds. Work out a fair price with the seller and enjoy your new vehicle. It pays to know what to look for in a used vehicle so take the time to do it right.