The Top 20 Tips For Buying A Used Car


Investing in a used car is cheaper than getting a brand new one. Everybody knows that, right? That’s the reason why as many as 40 million secondhand cars are sold every year. It doesn’t matter what you want to buy, be it a cheap model or a fancy dream machine; you will find a used version of that thing. So what are the top 20 tips for buying a used car?

When we have a sea of options to choose from, we tend to get confused, don’t we? So at such times, a guide like this goes a long way in helping us gain some perspective.

Just remember that the task in no rocket science. The best way to go about it is to keep some important factors in mind. This way you know how to differentiate between a bargain and a banger.


20 Tips for Buying a Used Car

#1 Make Sure it Starts

Okay, this does sound like such an obvious tip. I mean if you wanted to be told something as mundane as this, you’d rather talk to a person with no interest in cars whatsoever, right? But there are times when people neglect to do so.

Even before you decide that you want to buy a particular car, give the engine a go. The way it starts says a lot about the present condition of the car.

#2 Test-Drive the Car

Once you know that the engine starts smoothly, take the vehicle out for a spin. Testing it out on the road allows you check how the car runs at high speed. You also get the opportunity to test all the accessories of the vehicle. The most important one being the air conditioning.

#3 Test Out the Brakes

When taking the car out for a spin, make sure that you check the brakes thoroughly. One sign that says it all is when the vehicle pulls either right or left when you press down on the brake. If that’s the case, then it’ll cost you a lot of money to replace brake discs and pads. So think twice before you take the leap.

How to Check if Your Brakes Work Properly? Auto Brakes

#4 Inspect the Bodywork

The appearance of the car also matters a great deal, doesn’t it? In fact, this point is an important one in every buying secondhand car checklist. Things to look out for are faded paintwork, dents, and scratches. If you find any or too many, you can justifiably bring the price down.

#5 Don’t Leave Out the Tires

The tires are a part of the car, so don’t leave them out. The legal tread depth of tires is 2mm minimum. In most cases, the depth is as much as 5mm. So keep that in mind while inspecting the tires. Other important things to look out for are mismatching tires and uneven tread wear.

Basic Car Care & Maintenance : Checking Car Tire Tread Wear

#6 Ask Your Mechanic to Perform the Investigation

You obviously aren’t a master mechanic, right? So here’s an incredibly useful tip from the 20 tips for buying a used car. Instead of purchasing the vehicle and then taking it to your mechanic, do it the other way round.

#7 Ensure that There are No Leaks

These are visible under the bonnet. Fluids or oil leaking is not a good sign. The most efficient way to perform this check is by starting the vehicle and leaving it on for at least 10 minutes. If there’s any leak, it will show.

#8 Survey the Owner as Well

Are you buying a used car privately? Then you need to inspect the vehicle’s owner. But don’t be creepy about it. The goal is to find out if you can trust the person or if he or she is lying to you or keeping information from you.

#9 Say No to Dealership

Buying a car from a dealer is not such a brilliant idea. I think we all know that, don’t we? Agree to only finance at 0%. Going through a lending center or bank is way better than spending a lot of money on financing.

#10 Don’t Think Twice Before Walking Away


Every list of the top 20 tips for buying a used car tells you not to get emotional. At such times, you need to think logically. If something doesn’t fit, don’t let it just because your emotions are telling you to. There are plenty of better deals waiting for you, trust me!

#11 Check the Car’s Service History

he chances of finding a car with a complete service history are highly unlikely. So looking at the receipts of the last one or two years is also not a bad idea. It’s when there’s no service history that you should get skeptical. Avoid buying such a car.

#12 Go Through the Purchase Agreement Thoroughly

Even other top 20 tips for buying a used car won’t do you any good if you don’t get this one right. When buying a car from a dealer, you will come across the purchase agreement. This is where you come to know how much the sales person has lied to you about the car. Do not sign the contract until you’ve read both the sides of that document.

#13 Know the Meaning of “As is”

The label “as is” means no warranty. So you can’t blame the dealer in case the vehicle breaks down on your way back home. This is also applicable if you’re buying a used car privately. Whatever happens after you make the payment and get in the car is your responsibility, quite literally.

#14 You Should Know What Warranty Means

Suppose you get a car with the warranty, you need to know what that word means in your case. The term “warranty” has developed a subjective nature over the past few years. So it’s best to have it checked out before taking the leap.

More often than not, these warranties are limited service documents that are merely worthless. So you need to make sure that you have a contract that declares the warrantor. Also, the document should highlight the procedure for when you wish to make claims.

#15 Check the Mileage of The Car

This is the most important one from all the 20 tips for buying a used car. The lower the mileage, the better the car; it doesn’t work that way. A vehicle that’s well-maintained can have a mileage of as much as 200,000 miles as well. So there’s no need to panic here.

In fact, a low mileage points out to negative factors. These include the fact that the car does not hit the road too often as it’s busy undergoing repairs at the garage. Or that the owner has tampered with the odometer to reduce the mileage reading.

How Many Miles Is Too Much for a Used Car?

#16 Don’t Make Your Purchase on the First Visit

Even if it’s your dream car, don’t buy it the moment you lay your eyes on it. This is nothing but letting your emotions take over. Logic does take a while to spring into action. So it’s better to use your logic when buying a used car.

Plus, it sends out the right kind of message to your dealer. By waiting it out, you’re making the seller realize how difficult and strict you are about the process. So he or she will think twice before taking you for a ride.

#17 But Listen to Your Intuition

Does it sound too good to be true? If that’s the case, then it must be. Trust me. So it’s best to give in to your intuition as long as you’re skeptical about the purchase. Having moved on to the next car, that’s probably better than the one you saw before,is more appropriate than buying something that you might regret only after a few days.

#18 Negotiate the Cost Beforehand

There’s no point in selecting the car without negotiating its price. You need to try your level best not to enter the dealership’s office. Once you decide which car you want to buy, begin negotiating there and then.

It gives the dealer less amount of time to come up with new strategies to sell the car at a higher price. And it also speeds up the process so you don’t change your mind and end up paying a penny more than you should.

#19 Make Sure to Check the Oil and Water

There’s a lot to survey under the bonnet, isn’t there? The two most important components are the oil cap and radiator cap. In the latter, anything apart from blue or clear water means danger. And the former should contain a lot of dark brown-colored oil residue in the underside region.

Otherwise, you will end up spending a lot of money, time, and effort in fixing the cylinder head gasket.

What Is an Indication of Bad Engine Oil? Car Repair Tips

#20 Don’t Opt for Modified Cars

Do you want to buy a car that contains many after-market accessories and parts? When you have the opportunity to avoid such vehicles, then you should. These are the types of vehicles that don’t have original wheels or offer an unnaturally low suspension. So the moment you hear the words “modified,” “upgraded,” or “tuned,” walk away.

That’s a Wrap!

Here the debate is not between whether you should buy a used car or a brand new car. The goal is to learn how to buy a used car, so you don’t waste your precious money on cheap trash. So thanks to the top 20 tips for buying a used car, you can now differentiate between a bargain and a banger.

So what do you think about the list? Did you go through it thoroughly?

Have you ever bought a used car? Please feel free to share your experience with us below. We would love to know how well it worked out for you.

Thank you for taking out time to read the article. I hope the content was useful and interesting. And I also hope to see you back here again!

Strike the best deal and have a beautiful day!

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