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Top 9 Things to Check Before Buying a Pre-Owned Vehicle

Top 9 Things to Check Before Buying a Pre-Owned Vehicle

Buying a used vehicle can sometimes be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Buying a used car is a great way to save money and avoid the hefty prices of a brand-new vehicle. But how can you assure yourself that a pre-owned vehicle is worth buying or not?

We’ll look at the top things to look for when shopping for a used vehicle so that you can buy your next car with peace of mind.

Vehicle History

When buying a used vehicle, it can be hard to tell how it was treated before you bought it. Do your research and get as much information about the vehicle as possible. You can request a vehicle history using the VIN or vehicle identification number. Check for any significant accidents and if the car has any recalls on it. Also, you’ll want to look for any service history the vehicle may have.

Exterior Damage

When you buy a used vehicle, it’s bound to show its age, so you’ll want to inspect the car before buying it. Look out for any rust spots, paint chips, or severe damage. Small amounts of rust shouldn’t be a deal breaker as the repairs for those are generally affordable depending on the extent of the damage. However, if there are spots where it’s completely rusted through, you may want to continue the search.

Structural Issues

While looking at the vehicle’s exterior, look at any frame issues. Ensure the car is level, check for dog tracking, and if anything may be hanging out from under the vehicle. Next, pop the hood and look for any mismatched panels. Every vehicle panel has the VIN on it, so check to see if any parts have been replaced. Pay close attention to the colours of each panel for any variation, which could indicate a new paint job; look for consistent panel gaps and alignment and any clips or fasteners that look newer than the rest.

Pop The Hood

Other than structural damage, which could be a safety concern, the other most crucial thing to check is the engine. Inspect the engine under the hood, and look for any fluid leaks, corrosion, cracked hoses or belts, and missing bolts/parts. Check the oil dipsticks for any discoloration in the oil. Depending on where you buy your car and if it comes safetied, you might not need to stress too much about this part.


Tires can be an essential tell on any hidden issues. First, check for even tire tread wear and if all four tires are the same. Uneven wear can suggest poor alignment, indicating steering or suspension issues.


A driver, on average, drives about 20 000 km per year. To see if the car you’re looking at has high mileage, divide the reading on the odometer by the age of the vehicle. A higher mileage vehicle typically tends to have more wear and tear.


This one is easy. Test out all the electronic components to ensure they’re working. Then, test the sound system at full blast to test the speakers, provide the A/C that blows cold, and test to see if you’ve got heat for the winter.

Take a look at the fabric of the interior. Look for any stains, tears, or leather cracks on all the seats. The seats of a car usually take the biggest beating. However, the seats don’t have to be a deal breaker. A set of seat covers can quickly resolve this problem.

Test Drive

Depending on the age of the vehicle, the older it is, you may want to give it a good test drive. First, test out the steering, acceleration, braking and suspension. Then, take it out on the highway to ensure the vehicle doesn’t struggle at higher speeds.

Professional Inspection

Ready to buy a car? Before you do, the last thing to do is take it into a trusted mechanics shop for a full inspection. As much as we love to do our research, only a mechanic would know best. They can see any underlying issues or possible future issues. The inspection may cost you, but it’ll save you in the long run.

Now that you’re ready to start the search check out 401 Auto. 401 Auto has been a trusted dealer for over ten years and continues to provide people with the highest quality vehicles and service. We also offer fantastic financing solutions for all types of credit. We also provide credit-building packages to make your car-buying experience much more accessible.


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