How to buy second hand car :Your Ultimate Guide 2023

How to buy second hand car :Your Ultimate Guide 2023

When it comes to finding a trouble-free used car, it’s not just luck that matters. You need to know how to buy second hand car properly. This involves conducting thorough research and being a good investigator. By following the right steps to inspect the vehicle and looking into its history, you can identify potential problems and determine its reliability. This approach will help you avoid costly automotive issues in the future. The following advice outlines how to check a second-hand car effectively, enabling you to steer clear of purchasing a faulty vehicle and find one that offers excellent value.

How to check if the vehicle has been in an accident?

how to buy second hand car
Red scratched car with damaged paint in crash accident on the street or parking lot in the city

There is a small magnet device available for purchase that can tell you how many layers of paint are on a vehicle. It’s important to look for consistency all over the vehicle, as this can indicate if the vehicle has been in an accident (if there is body filler in a particular area). If you don’t have this device, you can inspect the trunk panels and feel inside the wheel wells to quickly determine if there is body filler on the quarter panel.

How to check engine?

how to buy second hand car
Car engine under the hood

If the engine of a car is extremely clean, it could be a warning sign. The seller might be trying to hide an oil leak. On the other hand, if there is a layer of dry dust that doesn’t show any drips, it’s a good sign.

While the engine bay is open, touch the engine. Is it cool? A warm engine will make different sounds compared to a cold engine. This is not necessarily a bad thing and is to be expected. However, sometimes sellers warm up the engine before the buyer arrives to hide potential issues. While the hood is open, check for wires that are not properly secured or are not in the wire bundle. This indicates a poorly done wiring job, possibly for installing lights, a stereo amplifier, or some other accessory. It’s difficult to spot a good installation, which is a positive thing.

Please examine the engine and transmission oil. Take a sniff – Does it have a burnt smell? If the oil is new, it could be a sign that someone is trying to hide something. A slightly darker color suggests a healthy engine, but if it appears grey or white, it’s best to avoid that car.

Next, check the radiator water. Ideally, it should have a good green tint. If it looks rusty, there may be internal corrosion issues. If the water appears grey or white, it’s best to look for another car. (Note: some cars use red, and it was blue in some car. If it resembles a milkshake with a grey or white appearance, avoid the car. Be cautious if the water is unclear or dirty.)

How to check tires?

Inspect the tires. Are they worn evenly? If not, it could indicate alignment problems caused by a hard impact or driving the car too aggressively (which is common among young drivers). Additionally, check for scrapes, scratches, or dents on the rims, particularly around the edges. These could suggest that someone hit a curb forcefully. Also, take note if all the tires are the same brand and type. If one tire differs from the others, it may indicate an accident on that side or an alignment issue that requires replacing the tire (especially if the different tire looks noticeably newer than the rest).

Insert the key into the car’s ignition and observe the lights on the dashboard. You should see ALL of the warning lights turn on and then go off after a few seconds. This indicates that they are working properly and not disconnected to hide a problem. Pay close attention to the “check engine” light in particular. If it remains illuminated, the car will not pass the smog test. Keep in mind that someone with an OBD II reader can turn off the light, but it will take about 20 miles of driving for the system to gather accurate data. If you have your own OBD II reader (or borrow one from a local parts store), check if there are any pending tests on the car’s computer, as this indicates a recent reset. You can purchase an OBD II reader that connects to your phone via Bluetooth and there are software options like “Torque”, although free versions are also available. It’s also a good idea to check the anti-lock brake light. A faulty system can be expensive to repair.

Start the engine and listen carefully for any squeaks, rattles, or knocks. It’s normal to hear some of these sounds when the engine is cold, but they should quickly disappear. Hydraulic lifters may take a moment to build pressure, so you might hear some tapping initially. Pay attention to the color of the initial exhaust smoke. A little bit of whitish smoke upon starting a cold engine is acceptable, but it should become clear within 15 seconds.

Try turning off and on the engine a few times after it has warmed up. Does it start immediately? When you turn off the engine, does it stop right away, or does it struggle to shut down?

Take a sniff inside the car. Is the seller trying to hide any unpleasant smells?

Make sure to switch on the heater and wait for hot air to come out. Not necessarily to check if it’s working, but to quickly identify any odor problems. Also, if you detect a sweet smell, there might be a coolant leak in the heater core.

Check if the floor mats inside the car are dry, especially in the front footwells. Are they wet? If so, there could be a leak from somewhere.

While driving, pay attention to the performance. Do you have enough power? Do the brakes make a squeaking noise when you press them? Does the steering wheel shake when you brake hard? Squeaky brakes might indicate glazed rotors or the need for new brake pads, while a shaking steering wheel suggests warped rotors.

Does the vehicle pull to one side while driving straight? This could be a sign of alignment issues, which can cause your tires to wear out faster.

Test the vehicle at different speeds and pay attention to any vibrations, especially if they are felt through the steering wheel. This could indicate that your tires need to be balanced or that you have a bent rim.

If the vehicle is a front-wheel drive, try making very sharp turns at a slow speed in an empty parking lot. Do you hear any popping or grinding noises coming from the front? If you do, it means you need to have the CV joints checked.

formal inspection of car
formal inspection of car


If the vehicle passes these tests, get a formal inspection done at a shop.

And also know Buy Second Hand iPhone in Nepal.

Why is it important to check a second-hand car thoroughly before purchasing it?

It’s crucial to inspect a second-hand car to identify potential issues and ensure its reliability. A thorough check can help you avoid purchasing a faulty vehicle and save you from costly automotive problems down the road.

How can I determine if a second-hand car has been in an accident?

You can check for signs of an accident by examining the vehicle’s paint and body. Look for consistency in paint layers and inspect areas such as the trunk panels and wheel wells for body filler. Consistency issues may indicate prior repairs.

What should I look for when inspecting the engine of a second-hand car?

When examining the engine, check for cleanliness, which might indicate an attempt to hide oil leaks. Assess the engine’s temperature, wiring condition, and the smell of engine and transmission oil. Anomalies in these areas can be potential red flags.

How can I inspect the tires of a second-hand car for potential issues?

Examine the tires for even wear, and look for scrapes, scratches, or dents on the rims, particularly around the edges. Ensure that all tires are the same brand and type. Inconsistencies may suggest accidents or alignment issues.

What should I observe on the car’s dashboard when checking a second-hand vehicle?

Insert the key and observe the dashboard lights. All warning lights should briefly turn on and then off. Pay special attention to the “check engine” light. An illuminated “check engine” light may indicate issues with the car.

What should I listen for when starting and running the engine of a second-hand car?

Listen for any squeaks, rattles, or knocks when starting and running the engine. Pay attention to unusual sounds, exhaust smoke color, and the engine’s response to turning off and on.

How can I assess the interior of a second-hand car for potential problems?

Sniff inside the car for any unusual or unpleasant smells. Test the heater for hot air and check for dry or wet floor mats, as wet mats may indicate leaks.

What should I pay attention to while test-driving a second-hand car?

During the test drive, assess the car’s performance, brakes, steering, vibrations, pulling to one side, and any unusual noises. These factors can indicate potential issues with the vehicle.

What additional steps should I take if I suspect problems with a second-hand car after initial checks?

If you have concerns after initial checks, consider getting a formal inspection at an automotive shop. Professional inspections can provide a more in-depth assessment of the vehicle’s condition.

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