Checks to Do Before Buying a Used Car


There are many benefits to buying a used car: you can get a decent vehicle for a more affordable price, and unlock the freedom of movement that comes with having your own car. However, there are some disadvantages to buying a used car, like dodgy private sellers and scammers on the internet. To help you avoid disappointment, we’ve put together a list of checks to do before buying a used car. 

Buying a Used Car from a Dealership vs Private Seller 

There are advantages to both of these options. A dealership will charge a dearer price, granted, but they also offer more protection for you as the buyer. A used car bought from a dealership will be protected by some sort of guarantee. Often, the dealer assures you that if you experience any problems with the vehicle within a certain time period, they’ll cover the cost of fixing it up or swapping it out with another vehicle. 


In addition, a dealership will often allow you to trade in your current vehicle to off-set the cost of the newer, used vehicle! This saves you money upfront, which we all love. 


A private seller, on the other hand, may offer you a better price on the vehicle because they have fewer overheads. However, there is no guarantee that the vehicle is in good working condition. Imagine if you drove off the buyers property and the rear axle fell apart just around the corner. There is nothing to protect you and the money you’ve just given to a dishonest seller. 

Used Car Checklist 

This is your list of checks to do before buying a used car from your friendly Milton mechanics, Pearson Automotive. We want to empower you with the right information so that you can make informed decisions. Check out the list below: 

  1. Engine Check 

Check the oil dipstick for honey-coloured oil, or black for a Diesel engine. Ask to see the service book to check the used car has been serviced regularly. Look around the oil filler cap: if there’s a white substance present, the engine may need closer inspection by a professional. Poorly maintained engines will cost you a lot of money in the long run. 

  1. Good Tyres

Check that all the tyres, including the spare, are in visibly good condition with a decent tread and even wear. If you notice excessive wear on one side of a tyre, it may be an indication of suspension issues. 

  1. Functional Lights 

Check the taillights, indicator lights, park lights, reverse lights, and hazards. It goes without saying that these are essential to driving safely and signalling your movements to other drivers, particularly at night. 

  1. Seat Belt Safety 

Car safety is of utmost importance, so make sure that all seat belts are present and in good working order. All passengers should be protected by seat belts when the vehicle is in use. 

  1. Fluids (Oil and Coolant) 

Check under the car for any signs of an oil or coolant leak. With the engine cold, undo the coolant cap and check that the fluid is clean and bright. 

  6. Exhaust and Emissions 

Unusual noises, knocking, and excessive smoke or fumes are bad signs in a used car. There may be an issue with the exhaust if any of these symptoms appears. 

  1. Used Car Body

You’ll want to check the car body for integrity and functionality. All doors should open and shut easily. Check the bonnet and boot or tailgate, too. Look over the used car for mismatched panels, rust, crash repairs, and paint damage. 


Remember that the structural integrity of a car that has been repaired after a bad accident is eternally compromised. If a used car is advertised for a price that is too good to be true, it probably is. 

  1. Vehicle Identification

The car's vehicle identification number or VIN should be consistent across all registration papers. Discrepancies here suggest that something is not right, either with the car or the way in which it was acquired. 

  1. Professional Check 

When in doubt, enlist the help of a helpful Brisbane mechanic to look over the vehicle and give you their input on the condition of a used car. Using the above list of checks to do before buying a used car will help you along the way, but an expert’s advice can’t be replaced. 


You can contact us to chat about your prospective used car and how we can help you get peace of mind. We’re a trusted mechanic in Milton who can assist you with all of your servicing, repairs, and maintenance needs. 



Posted in Latest Posts on Dec 14, 2020.