8 Tips When Inspecting a Used Car

Free Guide - 8 Tips when inspecting a used car.

How do you inspect a used car properly? If you're not sure, it's ok.
This free guide will give you specific examples of what to look for.


Always carefully inspect the vehicle in good light. Keep your eye out for corrosion or rust. Rust is probably the most damaging thing to vehicles which are five years or older. If you do find rust, press on it to determine how deep it is. If it feels spongy, there are likely more serious problems underneath.

Collision Damage

This one has become a lot easier in recent years. Today, dealers provide full disclosure so beware of anyone who is not willing to show you a Carproof or Carfax report. Nine times out of ten, any accident will show up on these reports, so ask for it. If you’re still not sure, run your hands along the paint and look for any inconsistencies. Most likely, if part of the body has been repainted, it will feel similar to very light sandpaper. Collision damage, especially if it’s minor, is not something to be worried about, just be aware and make sure there is no structural damage.

Inside the car

Check the odometer to make sure you are aware of the mileage. It is not uncommon for a used car to have minor scratches inside, even small rips in the seat. Keep in mind these can easily be fixed, unless it’s major or not satisfactory.


When driving, check that the transmission changes up and down into each gear properly under full acceleration. You’ll notice if something is wrong. If the vehicle has a manual transmission, try gearing down at a high speed then normal to test the synchromesh. If the gears ‘crunch’ at all, you may want to investigate a little further as gearbox replacement may be necessary.


Listen for knocks over poor road surfaces. Pay attention to how the vehicle handles. If it is “bouncy”, suspect some wear and tear in the suspension.


You’ll want to ensure there isn’t any noticeable delay between any steering wheel movement and road wheel movement. If the steering wheel and tires don’t appear to be in sync, you may run into problems at higher speeds, or not pass a safety test.


Any grinding noise while driving indicates the brakes may need to be serviced or replaced. If you notice the car shakes a bit before stopping, you’ll want to have them looked at.


Check the tread to ensure there this is deep enough. In Ontario, the minimum standard is 2/32 beside the wear bar.