Before Making Your First Purchase: What to Check in a Used Car

Dodge Coronet
From classic cars to contemporary, perform due diligence when considering any used car.

Year in and year out, thousands of first-time car buyers head out to purchase their very first car. Just in 2020, there were 39.3 million pre-loved or used cars sold in the United States. The number of sales is almost triple the number of new cars bought. In the same year, only 14 million new cars were sold. The number is actually less than the number of new cars sold in 2015 (17.5 million cars). While it is difficult to track the pattern or the reasoning behind this new trend, we can only guess the real reasons why.

This might have something to do with how awful the market and the economy are right now. Millions are trying to save up for something better. The improvement of the public transportation systems in various states may factor in the decline of new automotive sales. Whatever the reasons are, millions prefer pre-loved cars over new cars as their transports of choice.

Used Car Cautions

Many problems may arise from buying a second-hand car. Most of the pre-loved cars are cheaper for a reason. Unless you are lucky, most second-hand cars have already gone through the wear and tear of daily use. As first-time buyers, you would want to get the most out of your money when buying a second-hand car. It would be exceptional to find a second-hand car that has little to no damage nor mileage.

What are the things you should check before you buy your first car? What should you check when buying a second-hand car?

Registration and Title

The first thing you should check when buying a second-hand vehicle is its title and registration. First, you have to make sure that the person who is selling you the car actually has the authority to do so. Usually, the dealership you are talking to has the authority to sell you the car. It is Pro-forma that the paperwork is taken care of by authorized sellers. However, when dealing with just a person, you must check their authority to sell. While it is rare, you might encounter someone who is selling a stolen car. You don’t want to get entangled in that mess. Check it immediately.

Engine Damage

Checking the engine itself is imperative for any first-time buyer. Getting a peek under the hood is mandatory. The engine is the heart and soul of any vehicle. Without which, the car ceases to become a vehicle. You have to make sure that everything is intact and working before purchasing. If something is not working, you have to account for how much it would take to repair the damage or replace the parts. Better get your wallet ready. If push comes to shove, you better have a dealer to contact for replacement parts.

Nowadays, it is very convenient to get even engine parts. A Subaru head gasket replacement, a shutter stat, or an intake manifold pressure sensor is just a phone call away. Bring in a mechanic if you are unsure about what you should have repaired or replaced when inspecting.

Car Safety Features

Pre-loved vehicles are usually outdated when it comes to car safety features. Car safety laws have evolved through the years. A feature that was once an oddity has become the norm. For example, seatbelts were not mandated in certain states before. To wear a seatbelt was considered an unusual sight to see. Getting vehicles out of certain states became difficult without proper tagging. Low-emission vehicles were defined and became required. Fleshing out the safety features your car has will ensure that you will have proper enjoyment of it for the years to come.

History Report

Getting the car’s history report is crucial when buying a second-hand vehicle. A responsible owner will make sure that their vehicle has a history report detailing how many times it was taken in for maintenance and repair. It will also detail the damages the manufacturer has replaced on the car.

Stay away from a seller who does not have a history report of the vehicle. You are entitled to a reduction in the price of the car if the owner cannot give you details of which parts were taken in for repairs or how often it was taken in for maintenance. An owner who cares can provide you a truthful history report of the lifetime of the vehicle.

Buying a second-hand vehicle can be practical in the long run. You can maximize your gains on the used vehicle by making sure to check the aforementioned items before making the big purchase. This way, you won’t encounter issues in the future.


See AlsoShould You Buy New vs Used Cars? 3 Factors to Consider

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