15 Key Points to Check a Second-hand Car

    15 Key Points to Check a Second-hand Car

    When choosing a second-hand car you must take many factors into account. It is true that a vehicle catches the eye and that experienced sellers know it, but precisely for this reason it can happen that behind a beautiful body and in perfect condition, industrial amounts of rust and major mechanical failures are hidden.

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    That is why checking the condition of some exterior and interior elements can help you avoid unpleasant surprises with your purchase.

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    In this article I also leave you 15 key points to check in a used car with which to discover faults and thus avoid scares in time with your new acquisition.

    Perfect Looks! But Beware

    When looking for a used car, the exterior becomes one of the elements that people watch the most before buying, but it is where the seller can deceive us the most, so don't trust it. The interior can give you many clues about the life the vehicle has had. You must check that the main mechanical elements work without complications.

    Damaged underbody: Speeding over speed bumps causes scratches on the underbody and can be an obvious sign of careless use of the vehicle. Elements such as the front suspension could have suffered more than necessary. They may also show little care when parking.

    Irregular joints: Camouflaging possible dents that the car may have had is one of the objectives of dishonest sellers. But an accident leaves traces that are difficult to camouflage.When inspecting a second-hand car, you have to make sure that the body joints fit perfectly. Also make sure that elements such as the radiator or the alternator are original, if they are not, ask for explanations, a dent may be behind it.

    Doors and windows: How the doors close can reveal very serious problems. They must fit perfectly: if they make a strange noise or are difficult to fit, they can hide important structural problems. Check that the windows have no bites and that they are in perfect condition.

    Paint: If a car that is only a few years old has low-gloss paint, it indicates that it can sleep outdoors. The car wash can leave traces on the paint. A uniform color shows that the car has been cared for and has probably slept in the garage. Be careful with the differences in tone in different parts of the car, it can show that the car has suffered a blow and when replacing the part it has not been painted in the same color: discover its origin.

    Check Mechanics

    Under the hood you should pay attention to these elements:

    Engine: The engine is one of the most sensitive elements when you go to inspect a second-hand car. A mistake can cost you very expensive. That is why you must demand all the information about it: service book, breakdowns, actual mileage, etc. Start the engine and look for any strange vibrations or noises at idle. You should also check when the timing belt needs to be changed, it may be due soon and it is not cheap at all.

    Suspensions. Another important element to keep an eye on when looking for a second-hand car. Lean on the hood and check that it is not excessively soft and does not bounce. Worn and inefficient shock absorbers, in addition to providing less control and comfort, can reveal excessive acceleration, braking and aggressive driving.

    Brakes. It is a component, along with the clutch, that over time and with regular use can cause problems. Check the feel of the brake and check while driving that the car brakes well and without squeaks. Ask for information about pad wear. The hydraulic system can also fail and if you notice that the pedal does not go up easily or is difficult to press, it requires explanations. Also examine the operation of the handbrake, it may be loose.

    Related Reading: Investing in a Car Scanner: Why It's a Smart Choice for Any Car Owner

    Interior Inspection Checklist

    Sitting in the driver's seat, here's what you should check:
    Steering wheel wear. As I said above, the interior of a second-hand car can give you more information than you imagine. If a vehicle has had a tough life, the interior will tell you so. Check the steering wheel, if it is more worn than necessary, it reveals that it has had very intense use. The same with the gear lever, make sure there is no play and that the gears fit perfectly. Over time, misdirection is a common fault, repairing it is not expensive, but it requires having it fixed.

    Fitting of the pieces. The dashboard is often like the mirror of the soul.
    Crickets (strange sounds) can appear because the pieces have become out of square: a knock perhaps? You must check that everything fits well and of course, that the controls work without errors. Also check that the airbag covers fit perfectly, they can reveal a previous accident and if it is in poor condition, it may not deploy in the event of an accident or may activate spontaneously.

    Seating. When inspecting a second-hand car, check the condition of the seats. The bench must be fixed and can be adjusted without problems. If they have electrical regulation or are heated, make sure everything works; in case of failure, it must be a broken fuse. The backrest of the seats can give you many very useful clues. If it has clearance, it can show that the driver accelerates and brakes a lot. Also check the headrests, they must be able to move without difficulty. If they are excessively worn and the car has few kilometers, they could be deceiving you.

    Mobile bench. Some cars have removable seats, especially in minivans. You should check that everything works well and smoothly. You also have to make sure that they can recline and that elements such as the armrests deploy without problems.

    Upholstery: There are people who use covers, either to protect the upholstery from regular use or to hide damage. Always demand to see the original upholstery. If it is made of leather and is in poor condition, you can claim a reduction in the price of the car, although rehydrating them is not expensive if they are not in very bad condition.
    Floor mats: These are elements that are not usually inspected, but that can show that a car has been well cared for. They must have logical wear for the age and mileage of the vehicle and must not be too wrinkled or in poor condition. If they don't have one, you can demand that they give you some.

    Worn plastics: The plastics inside the car are usually a good indicator of the use that has been given to the vehicle. If it has few kilometers and elements such as the door handles, window controls or the dashboard are too worn, they may be trying to trick you. If any of these parts are broken, ask them to replace them.

    Seat belts: It is an element that does not usually fail, but you should still check that it works correctly and that they are not blocked or loose. If they have a major fault, you will not be able to pass the ITV and you will have to change the entire system with the expense that this entails.

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    Why is it important to check the exterior and interior of a used car before buying?
    Checking both the exterior and interior helps identify hidden issues like rust, mechanical failures, or signs of careless use, ensuring you're aware of the car's true condition.

    What should you inspect under the hood of a used car?
    Key elements to inspect include the engine for strange vibrations or noises, the condition of the suspensions, and the brakes, including pad wear and the hydraulic system.

    What are some interior aspects to check in a used car?
    Inspect the steering wheel and gear lever for excessive wear, ensure all dashboard components fit well and function correctly, and check the condition of the seats, upholstery, and floor mats.

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