10 Tips for Checking Out a Used Car Before You Buy

by | Feb 20, 2020 | Auto Tips, Buying/Selling

You’re not a certified automotive mechanic but you’d still like to check out that used car you’ve had your eyes on to see if it is worth setting up an appointment to have your mechanic check out. Here are some things you can do before arranging for that Pre Purchase Inspection, including a handy check list you can use. Be sure to make careful notes so you can share your concerns with the technician who performs the final evaluation on your used car.

“Getting to Know You” Used car checklist

  • Get to know the car you are thinking of buying and test drive a couple of them.
  • Drive the car under all conditions, stop and go traffic, highway speed, country roads etc.
  • Check the brake performance to be sure it brakes straight and without any vibrations.
  • Check the steering. Is the car tracking straight and not pulling to one side?
  • Try out all the vehicles systems: air conditioning, heater, radio, CD player etc.
  • Note any noise, vibration, harshness and smells.
  • Check the lights
  • Check the engine oil. Is it clean? If possible, check the inside of the oil filler cap. It should be sludge free and if the engine components are visible, they should look like new.
  • Check the car’s maintenance record, making sure all the manufacturers recommended services been performed? (Warning: If the car’s maintenance program consists of a few cheap quick lubes forget it and look for a vehicle that has been properly maintained.
  • If the car passes most of these checks have the vehicle evaluated for purchase.

And one last final word of advice. If your guts instincts keep telling you that the deal just doesn’t feel right, walk away. There are plenty of other good deals out there.


  1. AffiliateLabz

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

  2. Jason

    I really need these tips!


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.