How to inspect a used car before buying them?

How to inspect a used car before buying them?

Updated on April 18 2024

By Melvin Magadia for Automart.PH

Buying a used car is much more affordable than buying new. However, with a used car, you have to be meticulous in inspecting the car. This article will guide you on what to check when buying a used car.

1. Research

Research the car you intend to buy. Check for common issues. Visit car buying platforms like Automart.PH and check the listing description. If necessary, contact the seller to get more information. Ask them about the condition, issues, and mileage of the unit.

2. Inspect The Exterior

It is the best view of a car on a sunny day. This will allow you to see any imperfections, especially with pain scratches and swirls. Check for signs of repairs that may indicate accidents. Examine the panel gaps and make sure they are uniform. Examine the tires for tread life and date of manufacture. Tires have an expiry date of around 6-10 years depending on use.

3. Check Fluid Levels

Pull out the engine oil dipstick, check the levels, and wipe the dipstick on a piece of paper towel. Engine oil should be golden brown, or dark brown but not gritty. Open the engine oil filler cap. If the cap shows gray, white, or foamy oil, it could indicate a blown head gasket. This would cause overheating and will be expensive to repair.

Power-steering and brake fluid levels should be between the “min” and “max” positions.

4. Check The Interior

Check the seats and upholstery. Are the power seats adjustable and functional? Check under the carpets for signs of rust and moisture. This could indicate a leak, a history of flooding. Ensure that the air-conditioning system is working. Check the odometer reading, and ask yourself whether the mileage reflects the condition of the interior. Lastly, check for warning lights on the dashboard such as a check engine light, or ABS light which could mean costly repairs.

Check out our article on spotting a flooded car.

5. Take The Unit Out For A Spin

The best way to test the true condition of the unit is to drive it. Check if the vehicle is still driving straight and aligned. Take it out on rough roads to test if the suspension is making odd noises like creaking and clunking. Make sure that the engine runs strong and the transmission shifts smoothly. Be wary of noises like rattling, whirring, or clicking.

6. Check For Vehicle Documents

Lastly, check if the car has no bad record from the LTO and is registered. No need to go to the LTO directly, you can simply text “LTO VEHICLE <PLATE NUMBER>” and send it to 2600.

Content Editor Kyle Liong contributed to this story.


Automart.PH offers a wide selection of used cars at great prices, ranging from compact cars to pick-up trucks, that suit your needs.

And if you’re looking for the finest used cars, check out Automart.PH Certified Used Vehicles. These are restored until they feel like new again. They also come with a three-day money-back guarantee and, for Gold Certified units, a one-year warranty.