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In this world, not everyone has the financial capacity to buy new assets. So that means some people will surely settle for the used ones. So, in this article, we will be looking at the ultimate guide to used car checklists in 2022.

If you are like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of time to research used cars before making a purchase. And that’s okay! You don’t have to do all the research yourself.

Getting a used car can be dangerous as you might not know whether you are buying a good one or a bad one. Thus, in this article. we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on a used car checklist to help make your decision easier.

Table of Contents

What Is A Used Car Checklist?

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As you should know, getting a used car is different from getting a used home or any other asset. Some particular things need attention when it comes to getting a used car checklist, which makes it different from other asset checklists. 

A used car checklist is those things you need to put into observation while buying a used car. This checklist helps determine whether to buy the car or run away from the deal.

So if you want to be able to get a good deal, consider following this used car checklist. This used car checklist will guide you after seeing a used car you want to spend your money on.

Here Is The List Of Things To Consider On A Used Car Checklist

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1. What Is Your Budget?

This is one very important thing to consider in the used car checklist because after paying for the car, there are other things you might need to replace after purchasing the car. Some of these things might be based on your interests.

Another reason to look out for your budget while getting a used car is that you might need to get some documents after the purchase of the car. Remember, the car belonged to someone before, which means that acquiring it will require you to change some documents to your name.

After making the right decision about your budget, the next thing to focus on in the used car checklist is where you are buying the car. 

2. Where To Buy From Is The Next Thing On The Used Car Checklist

Here is one of the important things to also note in a used car checklist while thinking of getting yourself one. There are three places to get yourself a used car, and I will explain the pros and cons of getting a used car from these three sellers.

I. Buying from a private owner (used car checklist)

This appears to be one of the safest ways to get your used car because the sales are coming from the owner of the used car. A private owner has sole authority over the sale of their car, which means that buying it comes with ownership security.

Also, buying a used car from the owner makes it cheaper and also opens room for negotiation of price as the owner’s motive is not for profit. Furthermore, buying a used car from the owner gives you an edge in asking questions about the car.

II. Buying from a car vendor or dealer (used car checklist)

A car vendor or car dealer is someone whose business sells new or used cars based on a dealership contract with a car owner. Sometimes they serve as middlemen between the owner or seller of a car and the buyer.

One of the things you should understand about car vendors or dealers is that they tend to have a large garage where they store their cars, and here you can see different models of cars. They are the largest when it comes to car deals.

Purchasing a vehicle from a car vendor who has a garage tends to be safer. This is because they will have performed inspections on the vehicle before bringing it to their garage, and most car vendors have experience in the field of car dealings.

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This is better than getting a car from a driveway vendor, whose cost is lower, but the car can develop any fault at any particular period. This means you will be incurring expenses for repairing the car because you can’t ask for a refund.

You should also know that some car vendors with garages might be quiet about the fault of the car based on the profit they want to gain. So you have to be careful while dealing with them, and the used car checklist will also guide you on what to do.

III. Buying a used car online (used car checklist)

As you should understand, most industries now have an online platform for their products, which makes the used car market also available online, which means you can get a used car online.

In this case, there are a variety of websites where you can buy a used car. So, you need to be careful when dealing online as you can only see the picture or video of the car, not its physical appearance, which makes you vulnerable to buying a faulty car.

Before deciding to pay make sure you check online reviews about the websites and also get to see what you are buying before clicking on the payment. Because a car isn’t something you can just predict whether it will be good or not, you need to take it for a ride and carry out a lot of inspection on it. 

By following our used car checklist, you will get to understand the process to follow while inspecting the car. Also, some big car vendors have a website for listing their used cars. You can check online for legit ones, and before you decide, make sure you check the online reviews of the car vendor.

Right after this, the next thing to do is to go for a car inspection, but before you go for the car inspection, make sure you go with the following;
  • Paper towel for checking the oil of the car.
  • Notebook for taking note of details like mileage, vehicle identification number, asking price, etc. 
  • A magnet for detecting the concealed body of the car.
  • Flashlight for checking under the car for leakage. 
  • A disc, Aux, or any Bluetooth device for testing the stereo.

3. What You Should Check Out According To The Used Car Checklist

As much as you would like to get your used car home very early, there are some important things to check out. This is the most important part of this used car checklist article because without carrying out this part, you might end up buying a faulty car and incur many expenses on repair.

Buying a used car may seem like a way to reduce the cost of buying a new one. Still, you need to be careful of what you are buying because, as sweet as driving a car may seem, when it develops a fault it becomes a liability to you, so you need to check it out well before paying.

Firstly, ask about the documents of the car, such as the registration certificate, car purchase document, insurance, service book, and any other documents that might be attached to the car. After checking out this document, the next thing to inspect on the used car checklist is the exterior and interior parts of the car. 

Exterior inspection

The “exterior” of a car is the outer part of the car that is visible to you on the outside. Below is the list of the exterior parts to check on a used car checklist.

I. Paint color

The paint of a car showcases the beauty of the car, which means it’s one of the important things on the exterior checklist. A car’s paint wears as it ages, and there is no way a car won’t have a scratch. Nevertheless, they must still appear consistent. 

So if there is any part or panel of the car that looks a bit different in color, then that means there might have been damage to that panel and it must have been fixed. So kindly ask a question about it to know if it’s not a deep fault.

II. Lights

Make sure you inspect the exterior light of the car to know if it has been changed before or not. 

Check out the headlamp and tail lamp if they’re not changing color mostly to yellow, because when light shows a yellow color, that might have been because the car has spent a lot of time in the sun, which might have affected other things in the car.   

III. Wheels and tires

As we all know, without the wheels and tires of a car, it can not be moved, so you need to make sure you check out the following; 

  • All the tires are from the same brand. 
  • The tires are free of cuts, cracks, or bubbles. You can use soapy water to check this out.
  • An extra tire, a lung wrench, and a jack are available and work perfectly.
  • Check out the rims and hubcap of the tire if they are still in good shape.
IV. Body panel

The panel of a car is one thing to note while carrying out your inspection on the car, if you notice any wide gap between the panel then the panel might have been changed before being put for sale.

V. Frame or chassis

The frame, or chassis, is the supporting structure of a car to which all other components are attached. Check out the frame cracks. If any are found, then this might have been due to an accident. Make sure you ask a question about it.

VI. Under-body

 A car’s underbody is found below the vehicle. If you could remember that you are asked to bring a touch to the car inspection and this is because you need to check the under-body of the car for any leak or fault.

VII. Body Alignment

The alignment of a car mostly occurs in the wheel part, and when this is properly aligned, it helps improve your vehicle’s handling and also helps with performance and wear. 

Interior inspection

This is the internal part of a car. Below is the list of the interior parts in the used car checklist you need to check out.

I. Mileage

The mileage of a car is the total distance the car has traveled since it was manufactured. Usually, a car should do about 1000 or 1,600 miles a month and 12,000 miles or 19,200 kilometers per year. 

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To determine if a car has good mileage, multiply its year by 12,000; that’s 60,000, which is probably good for a car of 5 years. 

Moreover, a car can have a life expectancy of over 100,000 miles, so while checking out the mileage of the car, make sure it has good mileage. 

II. Trunk

The trunk of a car is part of the interior part that needs to be checked. Make sure you open and close it to see if it’s working perfectly.

III. Engine

As we all know, the engine of a car is the spirit and soul of the car, and without it, there is no functionality. The engine of a car has to be 100% functional. Follow the steps below to know if the engine is healthy.

  • Check the fluid – the oil should be brown, full, translucent, and must not smell burnt; the coolant should be full and contain antifreeze, which is typically green in color.
  • Starting the car easily without struggling.
  • Drive the car and pay attention to how it stops, maintains speeds, and accelerates.
  • Look out for any leaks in the engine. 
IV. Corrosion or leakage

Corrosion is dangerous to the car and it occurs when the chemicals in a battery cause a chemical reaction with the metal terminals of the car. 

This can eat away at the metal of the engine compartment, weaken the exhaust system mounts and violate the trunk area, causing air leaks and making your trunk vulnerable to water leaks, which is bad.

V. Transmission dipstick

Check out the transmission dipstick in the engine part. Make sure it is clean and has a typical reddish-pink color. Also, make sure the fluid is complete. If not, there might be a leak, so try and check under the bonnet for any leak.

VI. Timing belt

The timing belt, or cambelt, is extremely important for keeping internal combustion engines running and helps in the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft. If you check this out to see if it’s still in good condition, it might cause a lot of damage to the engine. 

VII. Air-conditioning

Turn on the engine of the car, close all the doors and windows, then put on the air-conditioning to know if it’s still in good condition.

VIII. Odometer

This is the part where you get to check the distance traveled by a vehicle, and it is located on the dashboard of the vehicle. This is very important because it shows the mileage of the car, and without it functioning perfectly, you won’t get to know.

IX. Warning signs from the computer of the car

If the car is a computerized one, kindly turn on the engine and check for any warning signs it might be giving.

X. Light in

Most cars have a light inside them. Make sure you check out their functionality.

XI. Turn-indicator

This is the directional indicator of a car. It is mostly located around the steering wheel of the car, which also has its lights on the exterior of the car. Make sure you check this out perfectly and the functionality of the light with it.

XII. Heater

Most cars don’t possess this feature, so check whether the vehicle you are buying has a heater, and if it does, make sure you put it on and check its functionality.

XIII. Temperature gauge

The temperature gauge of a car helps to know how long the car has been abandoned, and if the seller has been warming it up before you came to check it out, it must start at once, and if it doesn’t, then there is something wrong somewhere.

XIV. Windshield wiper fluid

Check out the functionality of the car windshield wiper and also the fluid.

XV. Check the stereo.

The stereo of a car is the radio, AUX, and Bluetooth of the car. Make sure they are all working perfectly.

XVI. The door of the car

Operate the doors of the car from the inside and also outside to be sure they are all in perfect condition, and if the car uses a remote control, kindly test that out also.

XVII. Sunroofs functionality

This feature isn’t available for every car, so if the one you are getting possesses this feature, kindly check out the functionality.

XVIII. Mirror and window

The mirror and window are very important features of the car because they serve as security while driving the car. Check out the mirror if they are adjustable and also check out the window if they are working perfectly while being controlled.

XIX. Seat belt functionality

Make sure the seat belt is intact as this is part of the interior part of a car.

4. Questions To Ask The Seller According To The Used Car Checklist

  • Does the car have a warranty 
  • What is the mileage 
  • How long has it been used
  • Can I see the paperwork 
  • Can the car be legally sold

5. Test-Driving

This is the part where you get to test the overall functionality of the car after the exterior and interior in a used car checklist. Make sure you take the car for testing and listen for clunking sounds when driving and making turns while testing the car.

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While test-driving the car, make sure you test the speed and pay good attention to how the engine consumes gas to understand the expenses you will incur in the aspect of fueling the car.

Also, make sure you take the car for a long drive so you can discover if there is an internal fault that you might not notice if you were test-driving for a short time.

Download Template On How To Inspect A Used Car Checklist By Chris Fix

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Used Car Checklist

What should I check in a used car checklist when buying?

In the used car checklist part, some of the things you should check are the interior and exterior parts of the car. Also, ask questions about the documentation of the car and how long it has been used. You can check out the article for more.

What is good mileage for a used car?

To determine if a car has good mileage, multiply its year by 12,000; that’s 60,000, which is probably good for a car of 5 years. So make sure you check the odometer perfectly to know the mileage.

What are the five things you should think about or do when you buy a used car?

After getting a used car, the next thing to do is to check out the parts of the car and also the documents. Some of the things to check out in a used car are the engine, tires, mileage, stereo, odometer, body alignment, turn indicator, fluid transmission, etc.

What are the most important questions to ask when buying a used car?

The important questions to ask according to the used car checklist are;
i. Does the car have a warranty? 
ii. What is the mileage? 
iii. How long has it been used?
iv. Can I see the paperwork? 
iv. Can the car be legally sold?

Conclusion on Used Car Checklist

It’s very important to take note of the used car checklist before paying. Research is important, so before you pay, make sure you carry out research, and if you feel the deal isn’t going well with you, kindly tell them you will check back. Furthermore, make sure your reason for buying the car fits what you are buying, and don’t forget to research the model of the car.

By Akeem Badmus

Badmus Akeem is a content writer, Software engineer (in training), and video editor. A lover of tech and sport.

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