What to Look For When Buying a Used Car

Posted on February 14, 2023 by


How much thought do you put into buying a used car?

The market for used vehicles has seen exponential growth within the last few years. The variables that are in play might suggest a few different motives to explain the rise in prices. 

“U.S. Department of Labor statistics revealed that used car prices are up nearly 40% from last year. New cars are also up 12%,” The New York Post said. “The higher prices are fueled by a global computer chip shortage, increased labor and production costs, as well as supply chain delays.”

Since the start of COVID, the semiconductor shortage has been a large factor. These chips are used to control most of the electrical components in vehicles.  New car prices have led people to search for used options instead. So, how do you know if you’re getting a good deal? What should you look for?

Physical appearance is going to determine a lot of factors immediately.

“Uneven wear can be a sign that the car is misaligned, often due to a serious accident,” Usedcars.com said.

While small scratches and dings may not be a big problem, it is important to be aware of warped or bent body panels. Rust is also a large culprit that slowly rots a car’s frame and rocker panels away. 

“If you think a dent may have been patched, put a small magnet on it. The magnet won’t stick to an area with body filler,” said Consumer Reports.

The interior is another true sign of wear that is present on a vehicle. The condition of the inside can show how well the previous owner took care of it. Large rips/tears, sagging headliners, and broken/missing interior pieces are all elements that need to be taken into consideration. 

Lastly, the most important part when considering any used car is how well it runs.

“Engine oil should be dark brown or black but not gritty. If the oil is honey-colored, it was just changed. If the dipstick has water droplets on it or shows gray or foamy oil, it could indicate a cracked engine block or blown head gasket, two serious problems,” Consumer Reports said.

Taking a vehicle for a test drive will show many faults it could possibly have. If the seller is weary of you inspecting the car and taking it for a drive, that is definitely a negative sign. 

It is most important to do research on the specific car beforehand by obtaining the VIN number. CARFAX is a great resource that can be used to search for information regarding the title, any previous accidents, or hidden information.

Using your own common sense and judgment can really save you in the long run. Dealing with a private seller compared to a large dealership can give certain positives and negatives. Knowing what you want and what to expect will help you feel more confident in the car-buying process.

Posted in: Joshua Tiemann