Used Car Buying Checklist

When you’re looking to buy a previously-owned car, the appearance of the vehicle can be a great indicator as to what’s happened to that car during its lifetime. Here’s our used car buying checklist to assist you in evaluating the true value of the car. 

Body Condition & Paintwork

Take a Walk around. Check for any signs of scratches, dents and rust. Body panels should line up evenly. Accidental cars may have body panels out of line. Inspect the car in open daylight as any paint issues or rust will be easily visible.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Check for color match and finish.



During your walk around, take note if all of the tires are of the same brand. Inspect each tire and check for cracks, bulges, or scuffing. Also look at the tires to see if the tread wore evenly on both sides. Aside from looking bad, bald tires are a safety risk. To check for wheel alignment, drive the car and leave the steering to see if the car goes in a straight line. Also ensure that a spare tyre is present and all the nuts and bolts are also in their rightful places.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Check for tread wear, bulges or cracks


Lights and Windshield

Turn on the lights and make sure that all of them work. Don’t forget to check the reverse lights, turn signals and high beams as well. Look at the light housings to make sure that they aren’t cracked or damaged, and that there isn’t any moisture coming in. Also look for any scratches or crack damage on all the windows.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Any damage to the lights? Scratches or cracked windows?


Seats Upholstery

Try out all of the seats – even if you don’t plan on using the rear seat. See if the seats are worn or have any tears in the upholstery. Make sure to check the seat adjustments – electric or manual – to see if they work properly and to make sure that you can find a proper driving position. Also see if the wear and tear reflects the reading on the odometer.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Check for marks of wear and tear. Does it reflect the odometer reading?



Turn the ignition switch to the accessory mode. All of the lights in the instrument cluster should come on for a few seconds before going off. Then, start the car. If any warning lights stay on, there is likely an issue that needs to be addressed.

Used Car Buying Checklist

All lights should go off when you turn on the ignition.


Dashboard Controls

Start the car up and play with all of the switches and buttons throughout the vehicle to make sure that they operate properly. Try out the climate control system and see if the heater and air conditioner works. Also make sure to try the audio system, the parking brake, speakers, seat belts, wiper, horn, central locking, and mirrors.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Play around with the dashboard to see if all the controls work


Engine Compartment

A dirty engine area may suggest that the car hasn’t been looked after and that servicing has been neglected. Conversely, a sparkling clean engine could have been steam-cleaned to disguise problems. Check the oil level and color before you start the engine. A dirty engine oil says that the car wasn’t serviced in a timely manner.
There are four key fluids you want to check: oil, transmission, power steering, and brake. One sign of trouble to be on the lookout for is visible metal particles in the transmission fluid or the engine oil. Silver particles in the engine oil indicate that the engine is wearing off. Brake and power steering fluids should be filled to the proper level. Be sure to look underneath the car as well to see if any fluids are leaking.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Use the dipstick to check engine, brake, clutch and transmission oil.



The clutch should operate smoothly and all the gears should engage easily. If the gears crunch, or if the gearbox whines, the car may need a new gearbox.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Is the transmission crunching while shifting gears?



A clutch can be particularly expensive, so make sure you test that it isn’t slipping or that is doesn’t feel too hard to push down. Make sure to check for free play of clutch and gear pedal.


Test drive the car and do a few emergency stops to ensure that the brakes not only stop the car, but do so in a confident manner. The brake pedal should feel solid and never sink to the floor before working. (You can check if a brake servo is working easily – pump the pedal several times, then hold the pedal down and start the engine. The pedal will go down as the engine starts.)


If the suspension knocks on bumpy roads or the handling feels imprecise, it indicates worn bushes, joints and shock absorbers. Check for fluid leakage from the shock absorbers (look inside the wheel arch at the cylinder inside the coil spring). Any fluid on the outside is a warning sign they are on the way out.

Used Car Buying Checklist

Check for leaks or rust damage.


Check the Documents

Verify the Seller’s details on the Registration Form. Also use the time to double check the car’s make, model, manufacturing date. Ask the seller if the car has any warranty left and if the car has been insured. See if the car has a PUC (Pollution Under Control) Certificate and that the road taxes has been paid off.

Check For Price

Being naive about the price of the car you’re looking at can be a shocking move, as the dealer might jump on it. Do your research beforehand by using either one of the several car valuation services that are available. You could visit to get an estimate for the car based on the make, model, mileage and condition.

Get The Pre-Purchase Inspection Done

There’s more to a vehicle inspection than what meets the eye. There are certain things that a layman buyer may not be able to identify with. Some con sellers are quick to act on this and take advantage of the uninformed buyers. It is highly recommended that you get the car inspected by some individual mechanic. To avoid having Buyer’s Remorse, read these 10 precautions to take when buying used cars.

Test Drive It Yourself

Make sure to get your hands on the wheel and drive the car around to check its functionality. The transmission should shift up and down smoothly, steering should keep relatively straight, and the car should not pull hard to one side when braking. The steering wheel shouldn’t shimmy at high speeds and cornering should be smooth.


Used Cars on Spinny

Used Cars on Spinny