5 Things to look for when Buying a Used Car

Buying a car is a pretty big deal. Second-hand or first-hand, any car you buy is a big investment, and for many, a car is one of their most valuable possessions. But there is however a catch. You see, when you select a car that you want, it is always important that you look at past records of reliability and parts availability of the car to make sure it that it is easy to live with. When you buy a car second-hand, this list of things you need to look at only widens as the car has lived a whole past life with a different owner.

Service history and past records

All cars need timely services. This keeps them going at their best. Regular work like fluid changes and part replacements need to be done with due diligence. Also, most manufacturers nowadays have annual or ‘past a certain mileage’ services that are important too. But not all car owners are diligent. When you are looking to buy a second-hand car, one of the first things you should ask for is the cars service history. Service histories tell you exactly how a car has been treated. If you see records that are sparse, or the owner is refusing to share them with you, take it as a telltale sign that the car was not very well treated and will become a burden on your finances going down the road.

Another thing you need to know about is that whether or not a car has been in accidents before. Cars that have been in accidents and have had extensive repairs are much worse than one that has not been in an accident. This is why it is imperative that you scrutinize and get information on a car and see if it was involved in a crash or not.

Lastly, a lot of the times manufacturers recall certain model to fix a major problem with the car. Such problems can range from a design flaw that is causing literal fuel tank explosions- like the 1980s Ford Pinto- to a stuck pedal issue- like the one recent Toyota models have suffered. If the particular model of car you are looking to buy is older than a year and has a recall issued by the maker, make sure that the car was sent in for the recall. If not, don’t buy it.

Where it lived

Although this might sound counterintuitive, knowing where a car was owned and driven is actually pretty important. Cars that have spent time near the ocean or in colder regions where they put salt on the road or in a rainy place tend have a lot of rust and corrosion issues. Alternatively, cars that were in warmer climates have much less rust problems. As a second-hand car owner, you need to make sure the car you are buying is not overly plagued with. Because if it is, you might be forced to wade through some pretty bad situations and problems like floorboard damage, suspension damage etc.

Tiny details

One of the best practices when buying a car second hand is to do an inspection. In the inspection, you should be looking at the current state of the car. Check the brake pads to see how much life they have left in them. Check the tread left on the tires. Inspect the headlight and taillights to make sure that all of them are fog-free and are working well. Pull out the dipstick and check the oil levels. Basically, you want to evaluate the current state of the car and see if it is worth while buying.

Look at the odometer

Mileage is the most important factor in second hand car purchases. The number on the odometer decides whether you should buy a car or not. Knowing how much a car has run is a deciding factor of a second-hand car’s price. Also, a car that has a lot of miles on it might not be the best option for everyone. Highly used cars- ones that have clocked more than 100k miles- require a lot more care and work to keep them on the road. For people who just want a point A to point B vehicle, this need for care will become a major hinderance in their life.


Prices in the second-hand car world is kind of confusing. Whereas the prices when buying a car first-hand is usually pretty set, things are a bit uncertain in the second-hand market. Because everyone is more often than not selling independently, the listed prices vary a lot between car to car. And it is easy to unknowingly overpay for a car, especially if you are someone who is not particularly inclined to cars. If you have a vehicle of your choice in your sights, don’t buy it at first glance. Do some research and dig into the market a little bit so that you can have a good estimate on how much you should pay with regards to the condition and mileage of the car.


When buying a car second-hand, overall, you will basically be looking into the past life of the car. You want to know about how much it was used, how it was treated and things like that because it will directly affect your ownership experience. Cars, much like anything else in the world, need some attention. Any small bit of ignorance on the previous owner’s part can easily snowball into something bigger and you don’t want to deal with.

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