How To Inspect A Used Car

A pre-purchase inspection is the most critical aspect of buying a used car. It helps you examine the condition of the vehicle and know whether you will get value for your money. Below is a guide on how to conduct a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. 

Previous Use

Inquire about the vehicle's previous use. For instance, a car that has spent a few months or years in storage may have a pest infestation, rust, lubrication problems, dead battery and a clogged cooling system. On the other hand, a vehicle used on the track may have strained engine and braking components.

Service Records

Ask for the vehicle's service records. They are a good indicator of whether the previous owner took good care of the car. Besides, they will let you know what kind of servicing the vehicle needs. For example, you would be concerned about the timing belt if the vehicle has clocked more than 100,000 kilometres.


The engine is the vehicle's heart. As such, you must conduct a thorough inspection to ensure it will not break down after a few months of use. Below are some engine inspection tips.

Check the vehicle's underneath for signs of oil leakage. Worn-out seals and gaskets are the main culprits. However, you could also be dealing with a damaged oil pan.

Ignite the vehicle and check the exhaust gases. Blue-black exhaust gas indicates worn-out piston rings, valve seals or a damaged turbo.

A car with ignition problems could have faulty spark plugs, fuel injectors, fuel pump or a dead battery.

Take the vehicle for a test drive. Push it hard to identify picking problems, a faulty cooling or transmission system.


Inspect the vehicle's underneath to identify signs of frame damage or corrosion. Faded paint should not be a significant concern. It can be corrected with buffing or a ceramic coat. However, you should be concerned if the vehicle's paint has blisters or bubbles. It indicates a poor paint job, and you would, therefore, have to repaint the car. Vehicles with uneven body lines or lots of filler on the body may have been involved in severe accidents.  


Check the condition of vehicle accessories such as the radio, air conditioner, lighting and wipers. The seats should have an acceptable level of wear. Check the boot and under the seats of signs of pest infestation. Cockroaches will infest a vehicle that is not cleaned regularly. 

The used car must be reasonably priced. Use online tools and conduct some research to help you know the vehicle's value. Negotiate the asking price and ask for guarantees from the owner. Also, ask for a full tank of fuel!