Buying a used car? Here’s your essential checklist!

Vehicle Title

The title establishes legal ownership for the vehicle. It is usually issued by the state. Make sure the seller’s name on other documentation is as written on the title unless the vehicle is being sold by a dealership. 

Service history

You should request a complete service history. If it’s lacking, this should set alarm bells ringing. If the same fault keeps cropping up time and time again, it’s likely to do so again. Failed state inspection? Why?

Tampering with the mileage…

Given that car values are based on their mileage, tampering with the clock to reduce the mileage displayed on the odometer is an obvious way to bump up the price. Check if mileage matches up to its age – as a rule of thumb – most cars average 10,000 miles per year. In addition, basic and inexpensive checks are available to test this at the time of purchase.


It sounds obvious, but check the body – in daylight – or other optimal lighting conditions. This will enable you to pick up any rust, scratches, or dents easier. Minor dents might not be so important – but beware larger dents – they could signify major accidents in the past, which could have damaged other parts of the car.  Also look for signs of paint overspray around body-panels, which indicate that a panel has been painted.  Sometimes paintwork can be because of accident history.  The latter is verifiable by obtaining a vehicle history report usually.


The tires should have treads. Cars with tires that have worn out treads shouldn’t be on the road. You should also check that there are no nails or other objects embedded in to the tires as these might constitute a safety hazard. Take a look at the spare tire in the trunk – it should be compatible with the four others if the car has a spare. 

Specific common faults 

Make sure you research your intended target car’s common faults. By going on internet forums, or asking friends and family, you can get a likely idea of what goes wrong. Then have those to hand when you’re checking out your car.

Take it for a spin…

You simply must take the car for a test-drive. You need to drive it in a variety of road surfaces if possible, start it when the engine’s cold. If it’s hot, any issues with the ignition might not show up. Check under the bonnet before and afterwards for leaks. Listen to the engine – you may need to lower the windows – for the full impact. It should sound smooth, calm and controlled – even when it is being revved high. Next, test brakes – how responsive are they? Is there any pulling from side to side? The steering should be easy to handle, and respond to your touch. Listen carefully for any clunky sounds or rattling – a sure sign of problems with the suspension.

Vehicle History Report

Given that so much of a car’s operating is governed by data systems – gone are the days where your uncle would get his car manual out and fix your dad’s car himself – it may we worth getting a vehicle history report. Among other things, this can tell you information about:

  • Liens on vehicle
  • Stolen (Police Interest)
  • Insurance write-off (totalled) / Recorded Accident Damage
  • Mileage history
  • Salvage history
  • Make and Model
  • Number of Former Keepers
  • VIN (Chassis Number) Check
  • Engine Number and Size
  • Imported or Exported
  • Date First Registered
  • Year Manufactured
  • Colour

An easier way to buy your car

Remember, when you’re ready to trade-in or sell your car and buy your next car, there’s an easier way.  One that will let you have your weekends back.  Simply log on to SpeediMango.com, fill in the details of the car your selling and the car(s) you want to buy and let dealers bid to buy your car and sell you the car you want.  They will often offer prices,which are pretty close to selling and buying privately and will take care of the paperwork for you!

Did we mention SpeediMango.com is totally free?

Posted by: Farra Majid on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 3:41 am in CARS