Ways to Inspect a Used Car When Buying It

Man Looking Under the Hood of a Car in Houston, TX

Shopping for a car at a used car dealership can be an exciting exercise, but it’s not without its challenges. While most used car dealers in Houston, TX, strive to provide excellent service and quality automobiles to their customers, not every car on the lot is trouble-free and worth your time and money. When you spend a sizable amount of money on a used car, you want to have some assurance that it’s going to be reliable and provide you with years of trouble-free service. However, when you buy a used car, it sometimes feels like you’re simply rolling the dice and hoping for the best.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take as a consumer to ensure that the car you purchase is in good condition and will serve your needs. You can have a used car inspected by a mechanic before signing a purchase agreement, but that’s not always feasible in every circumstance. That’s why you must educate yourself about things you should inspect when preparing to purchase a used car. Read on to learn about a few ways to inspect a car before buying it.


While the appearance of a car doesn’t necessarily correlate to its functional ability, the way a car looks certainly has some bearing on the purchase. First off, if a car looks as though it hasn’t been properly maintained on the exterior, there’s a good chance that other maintenance tasks weren’t performed either. There are some key indicators you can see from outside the car that will tell you a little about its mechanical state, however. Check to make sure the car has matching tires, at least when it comes to their sizing. Also make sure the tires are in good condition with plenty of tread remaining. Look for visible rust, dents, and dings that could detract from the value of the car or indicate that it was previously involved in a wreck that could have damaged structural components underneath. Make sure the car sits squarely at the corners and isn’t visibly out of alignment. Open the trunk to look for signs of water damage or leakage around the rear window. Get on the ground under the car and look at the undercarriage and exhaust system. If you see excessive rust or a cracked or bent frame, that could be a sign of past abuse or future problems.


Next, make sure to check the interior of the car for damage. Even though most interior issues won’t impact the mechanical viability of the car, they can impact the car’s value. Make sure that the lights and signals are all functional, and any amenities such as sound systems, power accessories, and climate control are working properly. Look for stains on the carpet or seats that could indicate the car may have been flooded at one time. Verify the odometer readings, and look for torn, damaged, or blemished upholstery.


While the average car buyer may not have a lot of mechanical knowledge, there are some quick checks that can be conducted by anyone. Pop the hood and perform an inspection for visibly damaged parts, such as a cracked head, damaged belts and hoses, or a corroded battery. Look for any signs of leakage, such as oil spills on or around the engine or coolant around hoses and coolant system components like the radiator. Use your nose to inspect further by checking for a strong scent of burnt oil or coolant. Remove the oil cap or pull the dipstick and inspect the oil. If it appears foamy, that’s a sign of a damaged head gasket, which will require an expensive repair. Do the same thing with the transmission dipstick. The fluid on it should be pink or red, and if it’s not, that’s a sign that there could be problems with the transmission.
If you’re planning to purchase a used vehicle from a car dealership in Houston, TX, make sure you use the information above to perform a quick inspection before buying. Failure to see the warning signs of significant issues could cost you thousands of dollars, so take the time to perform your due diligence before signing a purchase agreement. If you’re in the market for a used car, contact Bemer Motor Cars at (713) 266-2690.

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