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Whether you’re new to driving, want to save some extra pounds, or modify it in a fast and furious style, a used car can be your best bet. With the right amount of guidance and research, you can gift yourself a car that is in top condition and has many more years to live. If you have taken the decision to buy a used car and are really excited about it then following a few simple checks you can keep this excitement alive even years after the purchase.

Check the Engine

The part of a car that goes through maximum wear and tear is the engine. It is known to be the heart of a car and like the human body, it cannot perform to its optimum potential if its engine is not working well. It has many essential components and this makes its maintenance an extremely crucial task.

Thus before buying a used car you should always check the condition of its engine. There are many important and complex components in an engine that should be carefully examined before buying a car as any problem with these components can affect the performance and leave you with a hefty bill.


Leaks are one of the simplest things to spot in an engine. There are many fluids that flow and if any of these fluids leak out of their system then you should understand that the engine has not been maintained properly. If you’re wondering where you should look to spot a leak then the answer is simple, under the car.

The color of the leaking fluid should help you to understand which part of the engine has a leakage. The engine oil is usually a black colored liquid whereas the coolant is green, yellow or pink. If the overall condition of the car is good and you’re not getting a better car in the market then you should ask for some concession off the selling price so that you can get it fixed yourself.

Colour of exhaust smoke

When you start the engine there is usually a puff of smoke that comes out of the exhaust. You should look for long to check if it is emitting a lot of smoke or if the smoke is of a particular color. If it emits a lot of smoke then it’s a sign that there is some problem with the engine.

If the smoke coming out of the exhaust is blue in color then it means that the engine is burning oil. It means that the oil has found its way into the cylinder due to some problems with the engine seals. If the weather is cold and your exhaust is emitting clouds of white smoke then you can have some difficulty spotting it as it can be easily confused with steam. This usually happens when the coolant enters the cylinder and gets burned with fuel. Black smoke is an indication that your engine is burning too much fuel.

Check the clutch and Gearbox

Problems with the gearbox and clutch are not as easy to spot as oil leaks and smoke emissions. You will need an expert to tell you whether your clutch or gearbox is in the right condition or not. There are two types of gearboxes such as manual and automatic. Irrespective of which type of gearbox your car uses it should be able to engage all gears quietly and smoothly. If you experience difficulty while shifting gears then it indicates a problem with either the clutch or gearbox.

Every clutch has a biting point which is the point at which you feel the car starts to move. When you release the clutch pedal this biting point should be somewhere near the middle of a pedal’s travel. You should understand that the clutch needs replacement when you need to press the clutch pedal completely in order to start the car or shift gears. If you experience any kind of difficulty while shifting gears such as grinding noises or resistance then you may have to replace your clutch mechanism.

However, if you have decided to buy a car that makes some noise while driving and repair it later then this article explains the various types of noises and how you should go about their repair.

Check the Car’s Exterior

The best way to know whether the car you’re about to buy has been involved in an accident or not is to check the car’s body. If the car been in an accident then you may find dent marks on its body. Dent marks on the car’s doors mean it wasn’t a serious accident but if you find a chipped front then it could mean that the car may have been damaged in a serious accident.

The front of a car is where the engine is and if you find this section to be damaged then it is possible that the engine has been damaged as well. Such cars should be avoided as purchasing them can pose a big problem later on.

Checking the car for any sign of damage is extremely important and you should look for these signs everywhere in the car. If the repairs are old and the car has been used for quite some time after repairing then it could be safe to purchase it.

Check the Tyres and Wheels

The car you’re about to purchase should not have a set of worn-out tires as you may have to change tires shortly after the purchase. This can often be a costly affair and you should take it into consideration before buying a car.

You should check all the four wheels of a car and also the spare wheel, if the vehicle is equipped with, for any sign of damage. It is common for wheels to have grazes from kerbstones but if you find large dents on the wheels or if you find them to be bent then a repair or replacement may be required.

You should carefully examine each tire of the car before going ahead with the purchase. If you find the tire’s rubber to be flattened then it means it has been through a lot of wear and tear. Thus all the tires should be free from splits, cuts, bulges, or gouges and they should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm.

If the wheel or suspension alignment is poor then you will spot uneven wear of the tires as one section will be more flat compared to the others. Such problems can arise due to a crash or the car hitting a pothole at a high speed. If the tires have been improperly inflated for a long time then the tire could be more worn out around its middle section.

Check its Interiors

Interiors of a car indicate how old the car is. If the car has not run for more than 10000 miles then its interiors should be as good as new. On the other hand, if it has run for more than 50000 miles then its interiors could be worn out. Ideally, the seat covers and upholstery should be in good condition and so should be the steering wheel and side bolsters. Apart from these the lights inside the car should be functioning exactly as they should.

The interiors of a car also include the air conditioning system. When you start the air conditioning system there should be cool air coming out of the air vents. If the air conditioning is unable to cool the car then it indicates that it needs repairing. It is also possible that the system is running low on the coolant fluid.
Many cars come with additional features such as sunroof, electric windows, music system, and central locking. These systems should be functioning properly before you purchase a used car as their repair can prove to be expensive.

Take a test drive

The best way to understand any problem with the car is to take it out for a test drive. It is the ultimate litmus test of a car as it exposes problems with the functioning of any system of a car. If a dealer hesitates to let you take out the car for a test drive then you should understand that the car has some major problem.

When you are test driving the car then you should make it through a range of speed and check if the engine creates any kind of trouble. Also, all the gears engage at once. If any system within the engine makes a lot of noise then you should get the car checked for any possible problem with the engine. If you do not have much experience of driving and need some tips for your test drive then you find them in this article.


This step is crucial from the legal point of view. The last thing you want to experience after buying a used car is to be stopped by a transport officer and be informed that the car has been stolen. Thus make sure that all the documents are in place and the car meets the required standards. There are some basic requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to obtain an MOT certificate and usually, an MOT certified car meets the required safety standards and is in perfect working condition.

If a car meets all the above conditions then there’s a good chance that you’ll spend less money on its repair and maintenance after purchasing, when it really should’ve been spotted in the first place. If you have found such a car then you can throw your hands up in the air and rejoice because buying a car is always a great feeling.

But always remember…buy with your head, not your heart.


This is guest post was provided by Anna Barton
Anna Barton is a problem solver. Coffee trailblazer and a passionate creator.

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