Ultimate Checklist for Buying a Used Car

If you’re on a budget but are in need of a car, the used car market is a great cost saver and has value for money. If you’re looking to purchase a used car for sale in Moreno Valley, look for a certified dealer to avoid getting the short end of the stick. There are a few things you need to keep in mind before deciding to make a purchase.

Paint and Rust Damages

Make sure to keep an eye out for any paint chips or rusty spots. If you spot any uniformity in the paint job, it might have been done to cover up an accident. Check if there is rust on the framework of the car’s body, it could, over time, impact the vehicle’s structural integrity. Check the under-carriage for any leaks and the hood as well.

Check Under the Hood

Look for any signs of corrosion or rust under the hood. These are good indicators of the past treatment of the car, life expectancy, and current condition. Inspect the belts for any wear and tear.

Check the Milage and Year

The car’s mileage should be consistent with its year. Check the odometer, and if it averages more than 20,000 miles it has reached the above-average meters. It depends on the model, for instance, a year old SUV  should have less than 50,000 miles on the odometer.

Vehicle History

Ask the seller for the vehicle’s history report for the ownership history, accident history, and service history. There are services that can run the vehicle identification number or VIN to check if the car has been in any accidents, undergone any repairs, or if the car has been reported stolen.

Take a Test Drive

The car should be in proper working condition. When taking it for a drive, look for the following signs:

  • Electronics functionality
  • Screeching or soft brakes
  • Griding gears
  • Odd and retelling sounds from the transmission or engine
  • Good condition AC
  • Functional wiper blades
  • Jammed or broken doors
  • Loose or broken mirrors.


Check to see if all four tires match. If there is any extra wear or uneven treat on any of the tires, this could indicate poor alignment caused by framing, suspension, or steering issues. When there is poor alignment, the car will pull to the left or right when driving.

Check the Fluids

The fluids in the car should be routinely maintained as it is essential to its performance. Check the:

  • Transmission fluid: Make sure the levels are high and the fluid should have a clear reddish color. If the fluid smells burnt it indicted overheating. If it looks dark or milky, it’s due for maintenance.
  • Oil levels: The oil must be a smooth golden-brown in color. Darkened gritty oil suggests the fluid hasn’t been changed in a while. If it looks milky, the fluid has been contaminated.
  • Break fluid: Dirty brake fluid will appear dark, with particles and milky. You can tell how much the breaks have been worn out by how much fuel is left in the reserve, Low levels of fluid could mean that the brakes need repairs.
  • Antifreeze: The color should look clear and shouldn’t be contaminated with oil or debris.
  • Battery fluid: Check if there are any cables that are frayed, corroded, or damaged.

Check the Lights

Make sure that the headlights, brake lights, taillights, and turn signals are in working condition. Check to see if the lights inside the car work as well.

Check the Interior

If you have noticed any unusual smells, don’t ignore them. Take notice of any musty, moldy, or sour smells.

The previous owners could have been cigarette smokers, and the smell of tobacco is notoriously hard to get out of the upholstery. Check the upholstery, there could be mold or mildew which could mean there is water damage.

Make sure there aren’t any stains, rips, and deep tears on the seats. Some seats can get damaged due to sweat and can have a foul smell to them.

Check for rust on the spare wheel, beneath the floor mats, and the frames of the windows and seats.

Book a Professional Inspection

Finally, if you are still underconfident and aren’t able to gauge for yourself, hire a professional, like a mechanic, to get the vehicle checked out. Any problems that arise can be used as points for price negotiation. Paying a small fee to the mechanic could help you save a lot of money in the future.

So there you have it, some crucial points to keep in mind before buying a used car!

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