Buying a used car is a high price purchase, and it’s well worth making a few checks before you test drive to ensure what you think you’re getting is the real deal. Our ultimate used car checklist will demonstrate how a few simple inspections can give you real peace of mind before you drive away the used car of your dreams.
The first step on any car inspection checklist should be the exterior of the vehicle, so check the wheels for scrapes or misshapen alloys/trims. The odd scrape is generally no problem, but out of shape alloys should be replaced as these can easily continue to distort and eventually free themselves from the wheel itself.
Legally, the tyres should have at least 1.6mm of tread at the very least. The car may drive perfectly well in its current condition but worn tyres need replacing and can be expensive – this should be reflected in the price you pay initially for the car.
2) Bodywork & windscreen
Check the bodywork of the car, from any scratches and rust to more serious work such as replacement panelling. Check the windscreen for any chips or scratches – these especially can turn into something serious quite quickly, unless they've already had repair work to stop them 'growing'. Wear and tear is natural for used cars, but if anything to do with the condition of the bodywork doesn't ring true, make sure you question it before you agree to buy. In addition, look under the car and check nothing is leaking onto the road.
Internal checks on your car inspection checklist should start with the engine, and you don’t need to be an expert to make a few basic engine checks. Look over the engine for any traces of an oil leak (brown stains). Make sure the cylinder head is intact – this prevents oil or coolant leakages which can be very expensive to fix.
A simple one this – turn on the car and check if all the dashboard lights come on! Check the indicators work and the external lights are all in good order, as well as any electronic devices such as windows. If the car has a CD drive, radio or built-in navigational system make sure you check these too.
5) Seatbelts & interior
Try all the seatbelts out for size as part of your car inspection checklist and make sure they work correctly. Have a look for wear and tear across the seats, floor and any upholstery. Depending on the age of the car, wear and tear is often to be expected, but you should’ve been notified of any major problems prior to any inspection.
Any used car checklist should include a test drive, but a few checks before you drive off will further add to your peace of mind. Put the car through its paces on your first test drive, and we don’t mean push the very boundaries of its top speed! Test all the gears for smoothness and the biting point of the clutch. Although clutches are different on every car, a biting point shouldn’t be too near the top – if so this is a potential sign that the existing clutch is over-worn.
Test drive the car on the kind of route you’ll be driving on a regular basis. Make sure you go up and down hills. Even on bumpy roads the drive should be smooth if the suspension is up to scratch.
Check the brakes as soon as you can and make sure you perform an emergency stop.
9) Vehicle history
Checking the paperwork of your vehicle is just as important as making sure the brakes work. You should check the service history and make sure your car has an MOT and V5C as standard. For extra peace of mind, apply for a HPI report to give you a clear indication of the vehicle's history - not all used cars are sold with this, although when buying with eCars247 it comes as standard.
For more information, find our 5 Tips for Buying a Used Car blog here.
Buy in confidence with eCars247
Don’t forget that with every car we sell, you can access all of the vehicle's documents on our website. We also ensure a full valet prior to delivery. For more information regarding the eCars247 buying process, please see our How It Works page, or find your perfect car straightaway with our handy car wizard, and browse makes, models or simply just prices.
If you’ve any questions after reading our used car checklist, don’t hesitate to speak to us over the phone, or through our online chat facility.