Owning a car is practically a necessity in most parts of the United States. Unfortunately, only some urban areas are blessed with efficient public transportation. 45% of Americans have no access to public transport whatsoever.

Without adequate public transit, a car becomes a person’s lifeline — it is needed to keep a job and run essential errands. Make sure to carry this ‘what to look for when buying a used car’ checklist to avoid ending up with a lemon.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Car Checklist Items

Buying a brand new car seems like a bad idea when you consider that it loses value as soon as it leaves the lot. It loses 15-20% of its value each year. Buying a used car after a crash or when your previous one dies should be a wise investment.

Check the Exterior

When checking the car’s exterior, make sure to check the body, doors, tires, and lights.

On the body, check for rust, scratches, and dents. Make sure the body panels, doors, hood, and trunk are correctly aligned. If not, it may have been involved in an accident. The hood, trunk, and doors should open and close easily.

Check that the tires are all the same brand. This is a red flag, as it is not recommended to mix tire brands. Look at the sidewall of the tire for any abnormalities like bulges or scuffs.

Please go through all the lights, making sure that they work. This includes turn signals and high beams. Check around the lights themselves for cracks or moisture in the housing.

Check the Interior

It may seem daunting, but use your nose to sniff out any irregularities. Damp smells may indicate previous water damage in the car. Make sure to bring some hand sanitizer with you so you can run your hand along the floor and check for wet spots.

Make sure the seats and roof are in good condition. No one wants to ride in an uncomfortable car every day. Confirm it is easy to adjust the seats. Do a full sweet of all the controls and instruments to make sure they work.

Check Under the Hood

What’s under the hood is often what is the most expensive to fix. The belts and hoses should not have cracks, holes, or frays.

There are a few fluids to check — the oil, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Check the color of the radiator fluid and see if any fluid stains indicate a leak. When checking the oil, make sure it is dark brown without any foamy, gray bits.

The transmission fluid should be pink and smell like oil. Brake and power steering fluid should be full with no signs of leakage.

Deciding on a Car

Before deciding on a vehicle, make sure your trusted mechanic gives it a once over. The dealer should not try to rush you through what to look for when buying a used car checklist. Big, costly, important decisions like buying a car should take time.

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