Most used car advice is common sense. However, CARCHEX offers tips that you probably haven’t thought of. You might end up saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Let’s get started.

Test Drive With The Windows Down

Requesting a test drive is a no-brainer. Remember to roll down the windows while you’re at it. Some engine or suspension sounds might not be noticeable with the windows closed. Even if the seller doesn’t let you drive, you can still listen carefully for any suspicions knocks or vibrations.

Look Under The Rug

Take a look at the spare tire. Looking at this area of a car can be revealing. For example, if the panel covering the spare is under a carpet, you might find dirt or sand accumulated there. This same principle goes for any other hidden area like under retractable seats. You can get a good idea how well a car was cared for when you look at hidden areas.

Look At The Car In The Light

Plan to go used car shopping on a bright sunny day. You will be surprised to see how many scratches and dents can be seen in bright lighting.

Open Every Door, Push Every Button

Open and close every door, window, the trunk, and the hood. If any of these are stuck, you want to know before you buy. Also test every single button. Take your time and make sure everything works. Here’s the list:

  • Lights – low and high beams, fog lights, turn signals, brake lights, hazards
  • AC controls (front and rear)
  • Sun roof
  • Child safety locks
  • Wipers and water spray (front and rear)
  • All radio controls
  • Seat belt fasteners
  • Emergency brake

Check Fluid Levels

It’s a good idea to personally check the oil, coolant, power steering, brake, and transmission fluid levels. If these are low, ask why. It might reveal that the seller is negligent in vehicle maintenance.

Suspect The Odometer Has Been Rolled Back

Never trust the odometer reading unless it is verified. Sadly, odometer fraud is extremely common. Even if the current seller is honest, a previous owner might have tampered with the mileage. You can get odometer verification from:

  • Warranty or service repair records
  • Sales, title, or registration documents
  • Oil change stickers found in the glove box, under the hood, or on a window/windshield
  • Vehicle history report

Get The Car Inspected

If you have a mechanic friend, have them come along with you to inspect the car before you buy. You might think you have a good eye, but a professional knows exactly where and how to look at key areas. If you don’t know a mechanic, you can order a car inspection online for any vehicle in the country. Get a qualified vehicle inspection from CARCHEX today.


Smart used car evaluation can end up saving you a lot of money and a lot of headaches. Don’t ever feel pressured to buy. You can also get a qualified car inspector to evaluate any used car to make your buying decisions easier.

Order a pre-purchase vehicle inspection from CARCHEX today.

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