10 Tips Before Buying A Used Car


Buying a used car can be a rewarding experience if approached with caution and thorough consideration. To ensure you make a smart investment and avoid potential pitfalls, here are 10 essential things to check before finalizing your decision.

Vehicle History Report

Before delving into the physical examination of the car, obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report. Services like Carfax or AutoCheck can provide insights into past accidents, title issues, and odometer discrepancies, helping you make an informed decision about the car's background. Wheaton Honda West provides you with a Carfax history report for all of our used cars.

Mechanical Inspection

Schedule a thorough mechanical inspection with a trusted mechanic. They can identify potential issues with the engine, transmission, suspension, and other critical components. This step is crucial in understanding the car's overall health and potential repair costs. Or, if you are purchasing the car from a dealership, request to see the Mechanical Fitness Assessment.

Maintenance Records

Request the vehicle's maintenance records. A well-documented service history indicates that the owner has taken proper care of the car. Regular maintenance not only extends the lifespan of the vehicle but also ensures optimal performance.

Exterior Examination

Conduct a detailed inspection of the car's exterior. Check for signs of rust, dents, or scratches. Ensure that the paint is consistent across all panels, as variations might indicate previous repairs. Assess the condition of the tires and inspect them for uneven wear. When you buy a used car from a dealership, this is usually taken care of before purchase and delivery of the vehicle which is added value to the customer.

Interior Inspection

Examine the interior for wear and tear. Check the condition of the seats, dashboard, and other components. Ensure that all electronic features, including lights, air conditioning, and infotainment systems, are in working order. Malfunctions could be indicative of underlying issues.

Test Drive

A test drive is a crucial step in evaluating a used car. Pay attention to how the vehicle handles, listen for unusual sounds, and assess the braking system. A test drive provides valuable insights into the car's performance and drivability.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Check

Verify the VIN to ensure it matches the information provided in the vehicle history report. Inconsistencies may indicate potential fraud or undisclosed issues. The VIN can also reveal valuable information about the car's manufacturing year and origin.

Check for Leaks

During the inspection, take a moment to check for any signs of fluid leaks underneath the car. Look for spots on the ground after the car has been parked for a while. Leaks from the engine, transmission, or other systems can be indicative of potential issues. Pay attention to the color of the fluids; for example, a reddish or brown color may suggest a transmission fluid leak, while green or orange may indicate a coolant leak.

Research Common Issues for the Specific Model

Before finalizing your decision, conduct thorough research on common issues associated with the make and model of the used car you're interested in. Every car has its quirks, and knowing about potential problems in advance can help you make a more informed decision. Online forums, reviews, and manufacturer recalls are valuable sources of information. Understanding the common issues allows you to address them during the inspection and negotiate accordingly.

Consider Warranty Options

Investigate available warranty options for the used car. Some dealerships offer certified pre-owned programs, providing additional peace of mind with extended warranties and thorough inspections. Understanding the warranty options helps safeguard your investment against unexpected repairs.


Buying a used car requires diligence and attention to detail. By following these ten crucial steps, you empower yourself to make an informed decision, minimizing the risk of purchasing a vehicle with hidden problems. Remember, a well-researched and carefully inspected used car can offer excellent value and reliable performance for years to come.