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Used Car Inspection Checklist

Buying a used car often is challenging especially if you do not know about cars or have no mechanical background. The issue is that you can never know if the vehicle status is how it looks to be or it is different.

Losing money on used cars commonly happens everywhere however with just a little bit of extra care this can be avoided.

Before making any commitment to the seller, check all the following to make sure the vehicle is in a good shape and you are not buying someone else’s Problem.

This vehicle inspection checklist has been made for you to follow and inspect your own vehicle yourself anywhere.

Just keep in mind that a Vehicle History Check / REVS Check is always recommended before mechanically checking the car. This is to ensure the vehicle is legit and has no history of a big collision or other types of damages.

If History check of the vehicle comes with a Written off or Stolen Title, normally the value of that vehicle is less than the market average and if the vehicle is under finance, extra care is needed.


Used Car Inspection Checklist/ Vehicle Inspection Checklist

Make a form Out of the points below and make sure you do not miss any, just to ensure everything is ok.

Used Car Inspection Form

  • Engine –engine must run smoothly without any excessive sound or shake while the car is static or in motion.
  • Engine oil – proper engine oil should be in bright honey colour, not any darker or black. The oil should also be viscose and not too runny.
  • Radiator coolant – you should see no residue stuck on the coolant cap. The coolant should be clean and brightly coloured, typically green or red.
  • Fluid leaks – Any leak under or around the vehicle should be checked properly. Look around the engine compartment and underneath the car for signs of oil, coolant or other leaks that might indicate poor maintenance and potential repairs.
  • Exhaust – Smoke that has any colour such as blue, white or grey show that there is a problem with the vehicle. Excessive exhaust noise or a knocking sound from under the car can indicate an exhaust system problem.
  • Vehicle identification – Check that the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) matches the VIN on the registration papers. Open the bonnet and look for a small silver build plate that is usually in one of the rear corners of the engine compartment.
  • Lights – test all the lights including the indicators. Having someone to help makes this job much faster. Testing the brake lights needs someone to help.
  • Body and paint – Inspect the body for dents, ripples, loose, mismatched panels, paint overspray, evidence of rust or crash repairs. Make sure you put the car on a jack and inspect under the vehicle as well.
  • Interior – Check the seats, carpet and interior plastics for stains, damage, cracks or wear and tear. Use your logic to see whether the condition is in line with the age of the vehicle you are inspecting.
  • Tyres – – Ideally, the tyres should be of the same brand and pattern. Check the thread and the sides for any tear or damage. That can pose a safety risk and needs immediate attention. A thread of Less than 1.6mm is an offence by law in NSW.
  • Seat-belts – Ensure all the seatbelts are operational. If you have a child, ensure the rear seat belts work smoothly and properly.
  • Warning lights – With the engine running, you should see no illuminated warning lights.
  • Equipment – Broken equipment can often be costly to repair. Check that all the accessories work, including the air - conditioning and fan, power windows and mirrors, audio system, satellite navigation, parking sensors and reversing camera.
  • Jack and tool kit – Make sure the car has a jack and its tool kit. It is a must-have in all vehicles no matter what the usage type is.
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