Five Used Vehicle Inspection Tips

By Benjamin Jerew

Depending on what stage of the buying a used vehicle you’re at, your state of mind could range from overwhelmed to exhilaration. To be sure, buying a used vehicle can be exciting, especially if it’s your first or something special. Getting there can be a hassle, though, because there are many thousands of used vehicles across the country, whose state of repair can range from completely neglected to showroom mint.

Of course, you’ve already researched which vehicles are available and what you’re interested in, but don’t jump right into making an offer. Start with a used vehicle inspection that covers these five basics.

Do Your Research

Practically every vehicle has idiosyncrasies. Research the used vehicle you’re considering, perhaps entering “common (insert year, make, and model) problems” in your favorite search engine. The results can give you a heads-up to possible problem areas.

Be Thorough

Use a checklist inside and outside, topside and bottom-side. A used vehicle inspection checklist might include items like body, tires, brakes, lights, belts, hoses, fluids, radiator, seats, trunk, and a test drive. The more you look, the better idea you’ll get if this used vehicle is the one for you. Check for maintenance records and see if they match the odometer – the Canadian Automobile Association reports odometer tampering is still surprisingly common, even in newer “more secure” vehicles. A CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report can reveal hidden problems, too.

Smoke and Noises

No used vehicle inspection would be complete without starting the engine and taking a test drive. Start the vehicle cold, after it’s sat a few hours. This first start should be smooth, easy, and clean. If you notice chugging, slow cranking, or a puff of blue or white from the exhaust, this could indicate serious problems. When driving, pay attention to how things feel to operate and how the vehicle responds. If it doesn’t feel right, it could mean complications later.

Judge a Book by Its Cover

In used car inspections, it’s perfectly legitimate to “judge a book by its cover.” In this case, the vehicle’s condition and presentation say a lot about how it’s been cared-for or neglected. Steer clear of rust, bubbles, cracked glass, moldy carpets, mismatched tires, and the like. Chances are good that, if the owner couldn’t be bothered to care for these visible things, they most likely overlooked things that can’t be seen, like regular oil changes, tire rotations, and brake services.

Professional Inspection

Even if you aren’t even mechanically inclined, you can learn a lot using just your senses. Still, you might consider getting professional help. A used car inspection at a NAPA AUTOPRO shop gives you an unbiased assessment, cheap insurance against car problems you might overlook.

Once you’ve narrowed your list of used vehicles down to a select few, a used vehicle inspection will help you in more ways than one. Primarily, it gives you negotiating power. If you’re willing to repair a fault, suggest a price reduction. Of course, if you find something egregious, maybe it’s best to look elsewhere for a used car whose history and condition you’re willing to deal with. Check out all the check engine light diagnosis services available at any of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on used vehicle inspections, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTOPRO Service Centre.