Skip to content

Used Car Buying Guide – What to Look for

Most of us dream to own a car to ease how we commute to work or school. However, for most individuals, this is often a pipe dream as the price of vehicles is high and ever-rising. To get a decent new car, you have to spend 30,000-40,000 dollars, which is beyond the reach of many people. If you are one of them, you should consider buying a used car instead. Because motor vehicles are depreciating assets, you can get one at a fraction of the cost of a new one if you can do good due diligence. We share tips that can help you find the best.

Vehicle History

While buying used cars, most of us look for the cheapest of the bunch. You can save a few dollars this way but might end up buying a “lemon” that needs expensive repairs. To avoid such issues, you should always check the history of the car and make sure that the vehicle is “clean” and can serve you well for a long time. By “clean”, we mean that the car is not a stolen one or has a legal dispute. Check out its paperwork. Does the owner have a title for the vehicle? If yes, is the name on the title the same as that of the person who is selling the car? Such diligence can prevent problems down the line with the owner and or the law. You should also request for the car’s VIN and search it on a paid service such as CARFAX before your pay. This will tell you if it has recalls, liens, or accidents.


A motor vehicle is only good if it can get you to and from your destination without it breaking down. As such, while trying to save money on a used car, you should look for a product that is in decent condition. Check the following to know if you are getting a good deal or not. First, check the car for frame damage or issues. You should look for a transmission jack and use it to the car off the ground. Rest the car on a pair of jack stands and check if it has a straight or bent frame. Cars with bent frames do not drive straight. The risk of injury whenever you have an accident is also high while driving such a car.

Second, check the condition of the undercarriage of the car. Does it have loose bolts or electrical cables? Does the vehicle have large patches of rust on the floor or on its frame, which might fail over time or when you have an accident in the car? Buying such a product is a waste of money. You will end up spending more money to get it off the ground and running.

If the frame and undercarriage of the vehicle are good, check the condition of its engine or transmission. Lift the hood and use a flashlight to snoop around. Does it have a discolored engine with dark patches of oil? Such an engine might have leaky seals or gaskets and might therefore not run smoothly. Move on from such a product. Next, screw open the oil cap and check its color. If it has white patches or a milky residue, this is indicative of a gasket failure; move on. Finally, crank the cold engine and listen for knocks or weird noises. Walk to the back and check the exhaust for smoke or bad odor. If a vehicle has any of these flaws, walk without looking back.

The mileage of a vehicle is indicative of its age and therefore the level of abuse that it can withstand on the road. Check it. If a car has a million miles, it probably is on its last/dying legs and might not serve you well for a very long time. In addition, check the condition of the tires. These cost a fortune so it is always a good idea to buy a car with a good set of tires on it.

Test Driving

The best way to know whether a car will serve you well or not is to take it for a test drive and check the following. How well does the vehicle drive? If the system has wobbly tires or creaks and clanks on the road, save money and spend it on a fairly decent car. It should also have a comfortable interior and add-ons such as a music system or a reverse camera.

You can find other pointers in the video we shared below.

Leave a Reply