How to Choose a Used Car Despite Zero Knowledge About Cars

Choosing to get a used car gives you a variety of options. The world is your oyster, and the goal is like a treasure hunt. There are several great deals out there for you to choose. There are also some terrible cars you should not touch with a ten-foot pole. Knowing what to go for is essential. It can be especially tricky when you don’t know much or almost next to nothing about cars. 

If you are looking to get a used car but do not know what to go for, don’t fret. You also don’t have to feel alone as there are thousands of other people just like you. About 40 million used cars change ownership every year, leaving you with a plethora of options to choose from.

There are several advantages to getting a used car. Getting a used car will help you save money on car insurance. You will also save money on registration, taxes, and car depreciation. Car depreciation is the loss in the value of a car as time passes. The depreciation occurs as a result of wear and tear due to constant use.

how to pick a used car for purchase


A lot of benefits come with getting a used car. A rather significant one is the price. Without a doubt, getting a used car is a more pocket-friendly deal than getting a new one. With a used car, you don’t have to make monthly payments to keep the car. 

However, you must choose wisely to avoid getting a white elephant for it, which will also help you pour valuable resources, like your time and money, down the drain. If you are not careful while choosing, getting a brand new car could end up looking like a better bargain.

Some car issues like rusty spots or paint chips do not necessarily constitute a problem. These minor negatives can be easily overlooked, mainly if everything else checks out; if the car has frame issues, you might want to pause before making a purchase. It is important to check underneath the hood and the condition of the tire before purchase. 

The mileage and the interior electronics should not be exempt from your inspection. These may seem like little things that your car dealer can even attempt to wave away. However, they are all important to make you love or hate your decision to buy a used car. The radio, air conditioning, and heat must be in good working condition before signing the check. 

Study the upholstery with a critical eye to ensure the seats and interior fabric are in good condition. Check for tears, cracked leather, and stains in both the front and back seat. Changing the upholstery in your car can be pretty expensive and stressful. To avoid this, study your to-be car with a critical eye to avoid regrets.


Getting the perfect car, although used, has little to do with luck and more with research. You don’t have to be an expert in vehicles before finding yourself the perfect one that suits your needs. All you have to do is do adequate research and know the trouble spots to check. Recognizing potential problems and pitfalls will also help you make the right choice. 

Here is a list of things you should lookout for a while shopping for a new, used car. 


The way the car looks says a lot about the vehicle and the way it was previously used. A neat car without rust spots or chipped paint is highly appealing. It is also likely that it is less than three years old. The three-year mark is a sweet spot for many buyers. Many cars bought on financial deals or company fleet leases often run for 36 months or three years. The cars are then returned to the dealer or are sold through auctions. Either way, the cars find their way to the used car market. 

Inspecting the car during the day is an excellent idea. The streetlamps and torch lights can hide a great deal. It would be best if you thoroughly examined both the interior and exterior. Does the air-conditioning work right? Is the heat temperamental? Do the electric windows open at the same speed? Where are the dents, rust, or scratches located?


Getting an OBD scanner is essential before purchasing a used car. With it, you can check if the vehicle has any severe engine problems before purchase. Sometimes, the “check engine light” turns on simply because a sensor is out. It is not a big deal but can discourage you from a car of your choice. With a car reader, you can be certain the issue that is not as serious as you feared and easily correctable.  

The code scanner is very portable and can be used on a wide range of cars. A scan tool allows you to test and keep testing until you find one that checks all your boxes. 

check all features before purchase


To crank the engine means to start the engine or attempt to start the engine. By cranking the engine, you have a good idea of the status of the engine. It lets you know if the car has a bad starter.  It also tells you the status of both the battery and the ignition system of the car. The battery of a car is often only good for three to four years before replacement, but the ignition system should not have issues for years as long as it receives the appropriate support from the battery.


When you start the engine, be sure to pay attention to the noises coming from the car. While the vehicle makes several noises that you might not even pay attention to, here are some that should make you sit up. Should the car screech, clunk, hiss, rattle, knock, hum, squeak, squeak, click or pop, be wary.  Something may be up with the engine.  The engine tapping or ticking is also not a good sign. 


It is important to know the condition of a car’s tires, as they can indicate many things about its overall health. If you notice that there are less than 20,000 miles on your odometer but new tires have been installed recently, it might be wise for you to do some additional research before making an offer. Check if all four tire treads are even in terms of wear and whether or not regular rotations were performed using them; any indication otherwise could mean serious issues with alignment and suspension!


The engine oil should be gritty and dark brown or black. If it is honey-colored, the oil was just changed. Should the dipstick have water droplets on it, it could be a sign of a cracked engine block or blown head gasket. Grey or foamy oil is another sign. The dipstick ought not to leave visible metal particles on the rag. The transmission fluid is pinkish, not brown. It smells like oil and does not smell burnt. 


Make sure that everything in the car works as it ought. This includes the radio, air-conditioning, heat, suspension, lights, lenses, pedals, instruments, and controls. To check the suspension, walk around the car to see if it’s standing level. It helps if the car is parked on level ground. Bounce the corners of the car up and down. With a good shock absorber, the car should only re-bounce once. 

You can take along a friend to get a second, critical opinion on the lights and lenses. Also, you should ensure that the light lenses and reflectors are working well. They must not be cracked, fogged, or missing. 

A car with low mileage should not have much wear on the rubber of the pedals. Should the pedal rubber be worn through or brand new, it shows the car has been driven a lot. To check the instruments and controls, turn on the ignition switch without starting the engine. This shows all warning lights, including the “Check Engine” light, indicating that all is well.


Checking under the hood is very important because the engine is the most important part of the car. Turn off the car and pop off the hood. Check the engine yourself for corrosion, fluid leaks, cracked hoses, and belts. Be sure to check the oil and transmission dipsticks for discoloration. 



The maintenance records tell the hidden secrets about the car, secrets you need to know before taking the car home. The maintenance records provide you a full view of the car’s history. It shows you the works that were carried out on the car. The maintenance records show you the mileage of it against what is displayed on the dashboard. 

It would help if you also had a vehicle history check carried out. This will show if the car has been written off, recorded as stolen, or subject to outstanding finance. The reviews are cheap and offer complete confidence in the car you intend to buy. 


When all is said, done, and the checks completed, why don’t you take the car out for a spin? Not every buyer does this, but it is a significant procedure to make sure you like taking it home. Try out different speeds and keep your ears peeled for any rattles or strange noise coming from the engine. Take note of the responsiveness of the clutch and brakes too. 


It is wise to do proper research before getting yourself a used car. If you are still unsure, you can have the car inspected by a repair shop to get the approval of a professional. You can also insist on having your mechanic take a look at it to be safe. This will help you get the best out of your purchase.

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