Car Buyer Checklist

Buying a used car is not as easy as buying a brand new car. It can be quite risky, but it is possible to find the best deals. After you have done a thorough vehicle research and the necessary preparations, you can close the deal and drive the car home confidently.

Here is a checklist recommended by Vehicle.report for evaluating a used car and for conducting a comprehensive inspection.

Check Vehicle Documents

Vehicle Title

This will serve as a proof that the seller is the legal owner of the vehicle and must be able to legally transfer the ownership of the vehicle to you. You will find these details on the vehicle title:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN), make, and year of manufacture, the license plate number, technical specifications, and the name and address of the registered owner.
  • Whether there is a lien on the vehicle.
  • Whether it has a title brand such as “salvaged”or “flooded.”

Certificate of Registration

Some states require a copy of the previous owner’s certificate of registration when you register the vehicle as the new owner.

Check Vehicle Documents

Vehicle Title

This will serve as a proof that the seller is the legal owner of the vehicle and must be able to legally transfer the ownership of the vehicle to you. You will find these details on the vehicle title:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN), make, and year of manufacture, the license plate number, technical specifications, and the name and address of the registered owner.
  • Whether there is a lien on the vehicle.
  • Whether it has a title brand such as “salvaged”or “flooded.”

Certificate of Registration

Some states require a copy of the previous owner’s certificate of registration when you register the vehicle as the new owner.

Estimate Costs Related to Purchase and Ownership

 

  •  Check the market value of the car*
  •  Compute the cost of ownership*
  •  Estimate cost of insurance *
  •  Secure financing
* Available from Vehicle.report’s free vehicle history

Check Vehicle History

Run a vehicle history report through Vehicle.report’s free VIN check or free license plate lookup.

Inspect Vehicle and Do a Test Drive

One of the critical steps in the purchase process is inspecting the used car. You need to do this to verify the seller’s claims about the current condition of the car. This is also one way to figure out possible issues that you might encounter in the future as the new owner.

A complete car inspection can give you compelling reasons to buy the car. Finding some issues will not necessarily make you decide not proceed with the purchase. You may still want to consider buying it for the right price. owner.

Inspect Vehicle and Do a Test Drive

One of the critical steps in the purchase process is inspecting the used car. You need to do this to verify the seller’s claims about the current condition of the car. This is also one way to figure out possible issues that you might encounter in the future as the new owner.

A complete car inspection can give you compelling reasons to buy the car. Finding some issues will not necessarily make you decide not proceed with the purchase. You may still want to consider buying it for the right price. owner.

Inspection Checklist

Exterior 

  • Windshield free of cracks
  •  Body panel colors match
  •  Magnet adheres to all steel body panels
  •  Fresh paint job (if yes, it could be to conceal rust)
  •  Seams where the trunk and hood close are properly aligned
  •  Seams where doors and fenders meet are properly aligned
  •  Free of body scratches
  •  Free of body dents
  •  Windshields wipers and blades fully functional
  •  Headlights and directional lights intact and fully functional

Tires 

  • Tires are a reputable brand name (Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear)
  •  Tires are all of the same make
  •  Tires are of free of any cuts, bubbles or cracks
  •  Tread worn evenly (uneven wear indicates alignment and suspension problems)
  •  Spare tire, jack and lug wrench on car and fully functional
  •  Spare tire inflated

Engine 

  • Free of fluid or oil leaks
  •  Oil filler neck not coated with thick, black deposits
  •  Battery terminals free of corrosion
  •  Oil dip stick free of dark, black oil
  •  Free of odors while engine is running
  •  Exhaust pipe emissions are neither blue (indicates engine burns oil) or black (indicate excessive oil consumption)

Suspension

  •  Vehicle rests levelly
  •  When bouncing the vehicle’s corners, no creaking noises are made
  •  All corners respond the same when bouncing

Interior 

  • Seats unworn and free of cracks
  •  All doors open and close freely
  •  Trunk opens and closes freely
  •  Lacks a heavy scent of air freshener (may indicate something is being concealed)
  •  All gauges work
  •  No dashboard warning lights remain illuminated
  •  Stereo works
  •  Heater works
  •  Air conditioner works
  •  Windshield wipers work
  •  Windshield wiper fluid dispenses properly
  •  All seats equipped with functional seat belts
  •  All seats adjust properly
  •  Power windows operate properly
  •  Sunroof opens and closes properly (if applicable)
  •  Car alarm works (if applicable)
  •  Trunk and driver-side door lock and unlock with key
  •  Hazard lights function properly
  •  Headlights, including brights, work properly

Frame 

  • Chassis is neither bent nor cracked
  •  No signs of crumpling or straightening inside the trunk
  •  Frame holes just inside outer edge clean and free of scratches

Automatic Transmission 

  •  Transmission fluid looks clean, not dirty or gritty (no indicates possible internal transmission problem)
  •  Transmission neither slips nor delays when driving

Manual or Standard Transmission 

  •  Each gear shifts smoothly
  •  No grinding noises when in reverse

Brakes 

  • Vehicle steers straight and does not pull to one side when applying brakes
  •  Parking brake engages and disengages freely
  •  No grinding noises when applying
  •  Wheels do not lock when applying antilock brakes (if applicable)

Steering 

  • Vehicle does not drift to one side without prodding
  •  Vehicle is stable; no shaking or vibrating
  •  No resistance in the steering wheel when turning
  •  No clicking or clunking when turning

Miscellaneous 

  • Car manual located in the glove compartment
  •  Instructions included for any accessories
  •  Service and repair records available
  •  Owner has title
Resources
  • Market Value
  • Ownership Cost
  • Car Buyer Checklist
Vehicle Information
  • Free Vehicle Report
  • Free VIN Decoder
  • VIN Recall Check
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Copyright @ 2021 vehicle.report. All rights reserved.