If you’re looking for a new vehicle, you might already have a good idea of the make and model you want to purchase. Alternatively, you might have a fixed idea of the color or features you want your next car to have. From in-car wireless charging facilities and keyless ignitions to assisted steering and anti-collision warning systems, there is a variety of new tech features to explore when you’re browsing for a new motor.

The excitement of purchasing a new car makes it easy to focus on these elements but, if you’re buying a used car, there are important checks you’ll want to make too. By taking the time to thoroughly vet the vehicle, you can ensure that there are no hidden issues. With this in mind, take a look at these seven things to check when buying a used car:

1. Lights on the Dashboard

When you start a vehicle up, a selection of lights on the dashboard will turn on. However, virtually all of these lights will turn off again within a matter of seconds. If any remain on or start flashing, verify what the light means. Many of the lights on a car’s dashboard are engine warning lights, which means they signify when something is wrong. In some cases, a warning light can imply that maintenance work is needed, while other lights may alert the driver to an urgent fault that needs repairing.

2. Steering and Control

If you test drive a vehicle, pay attention to whether the steering pulls to one side when the car is in motion. Although many vehicles are designed to veer right for safety reasons, this is barely noticeable when you’re in control of the car. However, if there is a noticeable pull on the steering or you need to adjust the wheel to get the car to go in a straight line, it’s possible that there’s a problem with the car’s tracking system.

3. Wipers and Lights

If you’re viewing a car during the day when the weather is good, you might not think to check the windshield wipers or the headlights. Although wiper blades and bulbs can be replaced fairly easily, electrical problems can affect how both of these features operate. By checking them before you buy a used car, you can confirm that they’re in good working order before you strike a deal.

4. Paint and Bodywork

Depending on the age of the car, the bodywork might show a few signs of wear and tear. However, the paint can be a good indicator of whether the vehicle has sustained any accidental damage. If there is a slight difference in the shade of two panels or if one looks newer than the other, there’s a good chance that repair works have been carried out in the past. Be sure to ask the owner about this and find out exactly what happened before you decide whether the vehicle is right for you.

5. Windows and Windshields

A slight chip in the corner of a rear window might not seem like a big deal when you’re viewing the car of your dreams, but you’ll be disappointed if it turns into a major issue within a few days. Even relatively small chips in glass can cause the entire window or windshield to crack. Furthermore, they can weaken the glass and make it less able to withstand pressure. While chips in the windshield or windows can be repaired fairly easily, it’s important to know they’re there before you decide whether or not to purchase a vehicle.

6. Vehicle Ownership

If you’re thinking about buying a used car from a private seller, don’t assume the person showing you the vehicle is its legal owner. Instead, ask to see the vehicle’s registration documents and the individual’s ID. Sadly, too many unsuspecting car buyers have lost thousands of dollars because they’ve inadvertently bought a stolen vehicle. By verifying the registration documents before parting with your cash, you can protect yourself and your funds.

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7. Spare Wheel and Tires

In Canada, the legal limit for the tread on tires is 1.6mm, but most car owners feel it’s safer to replace their tires well before they reach this level. As tires can be expensive to replace, it’s well worth checking them before you buy a used car. Similarly, you’ll want to ensure that the vehicle has a roadworthy spare tire, along with replacement tools, such as a tire jack. If the car’s tires are approaching the legal tread limit, show signs of extensive wear and tear or have bulges or cracks, be prepared to replace them fairly quickly.

Take the Stress Out of Car Buying

As you can see, there are lots of things to look out for when you’re shopping for a used vehicle. In fact, some people find that the stress of the buying process takes the enjoyment out of buying a vehicle. However, there are ways to minimize the hassle and enjoy complete peace of mind when you’re buying a pre-loved car.

Instead of purchasing from a private seller, why not consider buying a car from a reputable used car company instead? When you buy a vehicle from Clutch, for example, you can be confident that it has undergone an extensive 210-check, so you won’t have to examine the vehicle yourself or worry about buying a dud. What’s more, with sites like these, you’ll usually get a warranty, so you won’t have to worry about having second thoughts either.

Planning Your Car Purchase

Another advantage of buying a vehicle from a company as opposed to a private seller, is the option to use finance to fund your purchase. Instead of waiting months or years to save up or taking out a separate loan, you can access low-interest financing options directly from reputable used car companies. This gives you the flexibility to purchase your dream car, while spreading the payments over an extended period of time.

To make the purchase process even easier, you can apply for pre-approval before you start browsing for vehicles. With pre-approval, you’ll know that you can secure funding for your vehicle, so you can shop with confidence and find a vehicle that suits your needs and your style.

Buying a Car Online

Traditionally, purchasing a used car meant traipsing around multiple dealers’ yards or arranging to meet with private sellers. Unsurprisingly, many people found this to be unsatisfactory and, at times, risky. Fortunately, there are now other ways you can shop for a used car and streamline the process.

With online purchasing, you can select your next vehicle from the comfort of your own home, have it comprehensively checked and delivered right to your door! This not only speeds up the process of purchasing a car, but it also increases the enjoyment for buyers and makes the process a whole lot less stressful! After all, new cars are filled with technology to make your life easier, so why not apply the same approach to the purchase process too?


The process of buying a used car doesn’t have to be risky if you check the points mentioned above and shop around for the best deal.

Featured image: Unsplash (Parker Gibbs).

Published by Mike

Avid tech enthusiast, gadget lover, marketing critic and most importantly, love to reason and talk.

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