8 Important Things to Check Before Buying a Used Car

8 Important Things to Check Before Buying a Used Car

If you buy a second-hand car in a good condition, it will serve you for many years. In this article, you will find smart tips on what to pay attention to when examining the auto before purchase. 

When buying a second-hand car, the customer should hire an independent mechanic to examine it. But sometimes, they cannot afford it. Or they might purchase the vehicle of a friend whom they trust. In such cases, the buyer will need to inspect the car themselves. In this article, you will find a brief checklist of those parts and components of the vehicle that you should pay primary attention to. These problems require significant repairs. You can determine the engine condition of used cars in sacramento by its sound while test driving.


Spread a blanket under the car, lie down on it and check what is going underneath. Are there any leaks? If yes, this is a bad sign. Then, get up, open the bonnet and check for leaks there. To understand which fluid has leaked, memorize this color scheme.

  • Power steering fluid — reddish brown
  • Antifreeze — yellow, pink or green
  • Engine oil — black or brown

If you notice any leaks, ask the car owner for a discount. If they disagree, look for another car. This problem might need costly repairs. It might aggravate at any moment if you do not fix it promptly.

Exhaust Smoke

Start the engine, walk to the back of the vehicle and wait for five minutes.

  • If the engine burns too much fuel, the smoke will be black.
  • If the smoke is white, there might be a head gasket failure.
  • Blue smoke points at troubles with the internal engine seals. Also, it might mean that oil is getting into the cylinders and the engine is burning it.

These problems require significant repairs. However, if the engine emits a small puff of smoke when starting, it is entirely normal and you should not worry.

Gearbox and Clutch

To make sure that these two operate properly, it is not enough to inspect the car visually. You need to have some driving experience and be able to assess how the vehicle reacts to your actions.

If the auto is in a good condition, it should engage all gears smoothly and quietly. There should be no grinded noises or resistance.

With an automatic gearbox, the kickdown should be working properly. This term denotes the function that changes down gears when you press the accelerator pedal to the floor. If the vehicle supports a manual mode, check whether you can switch to it without any problems.

In a manual car, make sure that the clutch biting point is located around the middle of the pedal's travel. When the driver releases the clutch pedal, the car should start to move — and this point is called "clutch biting". You should not need to push your foot all the way to the floor.


This is probably the easiest part. Look for signs of crash damage and repairs. Do all body panels have the same color? Are there gaps on the panels or leaks on the door seals? Is there any overspraying on plastic trims, rubber seals and glasses? To detect all these flaws, you should inspect the car outside of the garage, in plain daylight. Artificial light would conceal such defects.

If there is rust under metal body panels, it might start to bubble under the paint. It might be tricky to detect rust on the edges of the lips inside the wheel arches — but it is likely to be there because of grit, road grime, salt and water.

Wheels and Tires

Check all four wheels and the spare one in case the auto has it. There should be no large dents in the rims of the wheels. The wheels should not be bent.

Tires need replacing if they have the following defects.

  • Bulges
  • Gouges
  • Splits
  • Cuts

The minimum acceptable depth of the tread is 1.6mm around the whole tire.

The wear of the tires should be even. If it is uneven, it might be a symptom of poor suspension alignment or the auto might be hard to steer. If the tires are worn excessively around the middle, this is a result of over-inflation which means you should replace them.


There should be no leaks on the boot carpet. It is good if there is a full-size spare wheel there. Try to fold the rear seat to make sure that the mechanism functions as intended.

Electronics, Warning Lights, Mileage

Modern autos contain so much electronics that it might be difficult to check it all without profound technical knowledge. If you are not an expert, pay attention at least to the following items.

  • Windows
  • Central locking
  • Climate control
  • Infotainment system
  • Radio

Of course, you need to switch on the lights. Are the beams uneven? Are the lenses fogged? If yes, be ready to invest in repairs. Is the beam dim? If it is, change the bulbs as soon as possible.

Turn on the ignition to make sure there are no warning lights. Look at the odometer. Could it happen so that the motor was "clocked"? You should suspect that something is wrong with the odometer in case the mileage is low but the interior of the car is worn out. The condition of seat bases, side bolsters, pedals and steering wheel will let you know about the real mileage.


In old cars, you would often see the following flaws:

  • Sagging roof lining
  • Holes drilled in the dashboard
  • Rips or tears in the upholstery

If the previous owner of the car smoked, there might be burns in the seats. And you might never completely get rid of the smell.


These were the most basic aspects that you should pay attention to when getting ready to buy a used car. If you purchase it with a reliable dealer, such as Rolls Auto Sales, you can be sure that the vendor is honest with you. When signing a deal with a private seller whom you never knew before, you should be twice as cautious. If possible, take a friend with you to help you examine the vehicle. After you inspect the car, take a test drive and glance attentively through its documentation. If you find flaws, try to negotiate a bargain.