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How to Perform a Used Car Inspection On Your Own

Buying a used car can be a challenging endeavor if you don’t do your homework beforehand. Inexperienced buyers will often buy a car based on how it looks cosmetically, without even looking at how it drives or how the engine bay looks.

It goes without saying that while buying a used car, you should carry out a thorough inspection before making any decisions.

You can pay a couple hundred dollars to a professional mechanic to do the inspection for you, but if there are faults you’ll just be wasting money as you won’t actually buy that car.

So in our opinion, you should be equipped with the knowledge on how to do a thorough inspection of a used car yourself so you don’t have to resort to a mechanic’s inspection so often. You can always read a used car guide first for that particular model to gather more information.

Once you’ve done your own inspection and have settled on a used car to buy, you can then pay a mechanic to do some more in depth inspection, if the car is expensive.

Without further ado, let’s look at how to do a used car inspection on your own.

Exterior Inspections

The first thing to check is the exterior condition of the used car you’re interested in. Scratched paint, cracked windshield are obvious signs of neglect and you should avoid buying the car, or buy it for a very cheap price.

Look at the gaps between the different car panels. For example, check the gap between the hood and the fender, if it’s uneven then that’s a sign of bad treatment from the owner.

It’s true that uneven gaps can simply be manufacturing faults, but they can also result from shabby repairs, so check with the owner if the car’s exterior has undergone repairs.

If there are cracks on glass parts of the body, point these out to lower the price as these can be particularly expensive to replace.

Mechanical Inspections

It’s time to take the car for a test drive. This is very important especially if you are buying a high performance car.

Firstly, go to a smooth patch of road and see how the suspension behaves. If the car has a bouncy ride, it probably signals towards upcoming suspension work which may get quite expensive.

Get out of the car, and push down on each corner of the car. If the car bounces only once, the suspension is fine. But if it bounces up and down many times, that is usually a sign of weak suspension.

Now it’s time to check the tyres. You may be surprised by how much information simply looking at a car’s tyres can give you. Check if all the tyres are of the same make and model.

Heavy wear on the outside edge of front tyres could be a sign of aggressive driving, in which case the engine may have been stressed often as well.

Now it’s time to get dirty, literally. Lay down and check the underside of the car for signs of rust or frame damage. Check for black spots (for oil leakage), and run your finger along the exhaust system. Any black muck is a bad sign.

While the engine is running, check for exhaust smoke. To keep it simple, there shouldn’t be any smoke coming from the exhaust.

Now it’s time to pop open the hood and look at what’s inside. Check for any oil leak by looking for black stains in the engine bay. Check all the belts to ensure there are no cracks or dry belts.

Take out the dipstick and check the oil level. Lower oil level could indicate that the engine is consuming oil, which is never good.

Final Thoughts

We hope these basic car inspection tips will help you make a decision when looking at your next used car purchase. Always go with knowledge and information that’s necessary for that particular car model, as different models have different issues to look at.

Good luck!

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