Checklist for buying a used car

THE PRICE of a car significantly drops after the first year when it already has some mileage on it. Most of them will still run like they’re brand new if you know what to consider when making the purchase. In this article, you will find a used car checklist that will help you make this big decision.


Let’s start with something that you can readily see—the bodywork. You need to check the bodywork to see if there are signs of repainting or panels being replaced because this tells you that the car has been in an accident before. A car that was involved in the accident isn’t necessarily a bad purchase. If the repairs were done correctly, then you shouldn’t have a problem. You should look for dents on the body, rust on metal panels, and gaps between panels too.


Check the interior of the car. Look at the seats and carpeting to see if they’re ripped, the roof lining if it’s sagging, and the dashboard if it’s dented or cracked. You should also check if the warning lights, electronics, and other internal features (like the heating or air-conditioning system) are working. If the state of the interior looks more worn out than what the mileage tells you, then the odometer might have been tampered with.


The wheels should be in good condition because replacing a worn-out tyre can be expensive. The wheels of secondhand cars for sale will have grazes from kerbstones, but that’s normal. You should keep an eye out for large dents, bends, cuts, splits, and bulges. Check if the tread is at least 1.6 millimetres deep. If you see any problems, you can negotiate the price with the dealer.


The engine is the most important part of the car. Therefore, it requires the most thorough inspection. There are five main aspects that you should check before making the purchase: oil, head gasket, exhaust, and fluids.


  • Is the dipstick reading correct?
  • Is the oil discoloured?
  • Are the connectors covered in grime?

Head Gasket

  • Is the head gasket blown or leaking?


  • What’s the colour of the smoke?
  • Blue smoke is a sign that the engine is burning oil.
  • White smoke can mean that the head gasket is blown.
  • Black smoke tells you that the engine is burning too much fuel.


  • Are there any fluids (oil, coolant, gearbox fluid) leaking?

Test Drive

Take the car out for a test drive. You’ll learn more about its condition when you get to experience driving it. Listen to the engine, test the car at different speeds, and check if the brakes and clutch are responsive.


The previous owner of the car should have compiled all receipts made for repairs or modifications. This allows you to know the history of the vehicle, to see which parts aren’t original, and to double check the mileage’s accuracy. Sandown-group, or whoever your dealer is, will provide these documents to you.

When buying a used car, make sure to check its bodywork, interior, wheels, and engine. You should also take it out on a test drive like you would a new car and ask for the proper documents before making the purchase.

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