Things to Look for When Buying a Used Car

This post is sponsored by Marburger Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

Many consumers (like myself) prefer to purchase used cars versus new. Since buying a used car is sometimes a sensible option, you still need to be smart about your choices.

Sometimes used cars are sold with hidden damages that can be a very costly problem – to avoid purchasing a “lemon” , here’s a checklist to help check the condition and value before buying a used car.


Here are some steps to take when inspecting a used car for mechanical issues:

  • Look carefully at the car’s exterior and interior.
  • Go for a test drive.
  • Perform a leak test.
  • Have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle.

The Car’s Exterior and Interior

The exterior and interior condition of a vehicle can play a significant role in the value of the vehicle. You need to check over it carefully, checking for rips, rust and for any repairs that might need made. Open the hood, get a good look at the engine and parts – dirty and rusted parts can be a sign of trouble down the road.

Take it for a Test Drive

ALWAYS ALWAYS take your car on a test drive – on local roads and highways. You need to see how the car responds and performs. On local roads you can feel how the car shifts and responds to sharp turns. You can also get the condition of the breaks with stop and go conditions. On the highway you can see if the engine runs smoothly. Keep your eyes and ears open – listen for unusual engine or break noise – and check to see how the electronics are working.

Perform a Leak Test

Any car with leaks is generally a RED FLAG. During your test drive, take a moment to park in a clean area and let the car run for a few minutes. Then move the car and do a visible inspection for leaks. Black fluid can be leaking oil, green fluid anti-freeze and pink fluid , transmission.

Take it to a Trusted Mechanic

A lot of people won’t take the time to have a mechanic inspect their car before purchase – and you may wish you would have in the future. Having your trusted mechanic take a look, or even paying a mechanic for an inspection, can be worth every penny. They can help find hidden problems that you might not be able to see, and help you get an idea if it’s worth what they are asking. If there were – or may be – any major problems especially with the engine or transmission, they can let you know.


Once you feel the car is in good condition, consider these steps to further research the vehicle:

  • Read reviews on the make and model.
  • Figure out a fair purchase price.
  • Make sure to decode the VIN.
  • Review the vehicle history report. (make sure it doesn’t have a salvage title)
  • Consider looking at certified pre-owned vehicles.
  • Take your time to help avoid buyer’s remorse.

Following these simple steps should help assure that you have gotten a good deal and aren’t stuck with a lemon!

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