What to Look for In A Used Vehicle

June 6th, 2022 by

Buying a used vehicle can be an excellent way to get a car without breaking the bank. It’s a good idea to check out and test drive a used car in person before buying it so you can make sure it has everything you want in your new vehicle. Explore what exactly you should check for in a used vehicle to make sure it’s a good fit for you with this checklist.


Check all exterior surfaces of the car to ensure there’s no significant damage. It may be a good idea to walk around the vehicle to inspect it closely from various angles. Make sure there aren’t scratches, dents, or rusted areas in the body. It’s also important to check the windshield, windows, rearview mirrors, and lights to determine if any parts of the glass or mirrors are broken.

You’ll want to inspect the tires of the vehicle to make sure they’re in good condition. Without functional tires, you risk having a flat tire or blowout. In addition, proper traction levels on your tires enable you to experience good handling and performance while driving the vehicle. Consider using a tire tread depth reader to assess the tire tread and a tire gauge to ensure the tires are full of air.


When you open the car doors to inspect the interior, pay attention to the scent of the car to make sure it smells clean and odor-free. Examine the upholstery for stains, dirt, or other debris. While used cars are expected to have some imperfections, it’s still necessary you know the condition of the car so you can make an informed purchase.

If a lot of cargo space for your belongings is an important factor for you, consider this when looking at a used vehicle. If the seats can fold down or reconfigure to create more space, consider asking the seller to show you how to make those changes. Think about the extra storage available, too. Are there enough cupholders? Check storage areas like the center console, glove box, door pockets, and seat pockets to decide if you have enough room for your travel essentials.

While you’re sitting in the car, think about how roomy it feels. Is there enough space for your head, neck, shoulders, hips, and legs? Do you feel comfortable in the driver’s seat? Apply the seat adjustments, if possible, and shift the rearview and side view mirrors to make sure you can drive with full visibility of your surroundings. Being comfortable while driving is essential.

Finally, make sure the interior has the features you’re seeking in a vehicle. For example, you may want a sunroof to let in natural light and fresh air. It may help make the process more efficient if you create a list of the specific features you’re seeking before you even arrive at the dealership for a test drive.


Find the odometer reading on the dashboard to learn the mileage of the car. This value shows how much general wear and tear the car has experienced throughout its life. Many used car shoppers are looking for cars with less than 100,000 miles. By purchasing a car with fewer miles, you may be able to use the car for a longer period of time. While you’re viewing the dashboard, you can also make sure there aren’t any active alerts or emergency warnings. You can also check dashboard buttons to confirm that they work.

Performance and Handling

On the test drive, you’ll also want to pay close attention to how easily you can drive and control the vehicle. Here are some specific factors to think about:


The brakes are one of the most important components of your vehicle. If you’re hearing squeaking, screeching, or other strange sounds from the brakes, this is a sign the brakes require service or repair. Make sure the brakes are responsive, and ensure they’re not sticky when you press and release them.


The acceleration of your vehicle should be sensitive to your foot on the pedal. Make sure you can accelerate to high speeds properly when merging into interstate lanes.


The transmission of a vehicle is the component that transfers energy from the engine to the wheels. Confirm that you can switch gears into drive, reverse, and neutral smoothly. Checking the transmission is especially important if you’re thinking about purchasing a vehicle with manual transmission.


Pay attention to how responsive the wheels are to your steering, especially when you change lanes or go around bends at high speeds. Complete some tight turns to assess the turning radius. You can also try to parallel park to test how easy it is to control the car.


Find out if the vehicle’s technologies work. If possible, turn on the sound system, flip through some radio stations, and adjust the sound settings to test the volume and sound quality. You might even test the CD player if the vehicle has one. If you’re able to connect your smartphone through an auxiliary cord or Bluetooth, make sure the connection is functional. You can also start the air conditioning system, roll the windows down and up, turn on and off the lights, and try other buttons and switches in the cabin.

In addition, a test drive is a good opportunity to learn how various interior features work. If the car has a special navigation system, consider discovering how it functions on your test drive. If there are innovative infotainment features in the vehicle, you might take some time to fiddle with these and ensure you understand them. You can also verify how safety features operate. For example, the vehicle might come with elements like lane departure warning, cruise control, and a backup camera.

Inspecting a used vehicle carefully is an important step before buying. By checking it over, you can make sure there isn’t any damage. You can also confirm it has the look and features you’re seeking for your next car. If you have any questions about buying used or new cars, feel free to reach out to us at Applegate Chevrolet. When you contact us, one of our team members will be happy to assist you with your unique situation.

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