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Inspecting a Used Car Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

What to look for

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Hazard lights working
Headlights (high/low) working
Breakl­ights working
Car alarm works
Cruise Control working
Gas Guage working
No warning lights lite
Seat Belt light working
Speedo­meter working
Turn Signals working
Trip Counter working
Wipers work
Wiper fluid dispenses

Tires & Brakes

All same size
Tread worn evenly
Inflated properly
Jack & lug wrench
Security Lugs
Tread worn evenly
Spare tire inflated
Brakes - Does not pull to one side*
Parking brake works
*When applying the brakes the Vehicle steers straight and does not pull to one side.


Body panels - colors match
Fresh paint job*
No body scratches
No body dents
Seams - Doors & fender aligned
Seams - Trunk aligned
Windshield free of cracks
*if yes, it could be to conceal rust


All gauges work
Air condit­ioner working
Doors open & closes with key
Defrosters back/front working
Heater working
No heavy scent air freshener
Power windows operate properly*
Seat belts functional
Seats unworn & free of cracks
Seats adjust properly
Sunroof opens and closes properly
Stereo working
Trunk opens & closes
* may indicate a problem being concealed


Battery terminals corrosion free
Exhaust emissions not blue*
Exhaust emissions not black**
Free of fluid or oil leaks
Oil dip stick - no dark-black oil
No Odor while engine running
* indicates engine burns oil
**indi­cates excessive oil consum­ption

Automatic Transm­ission

Transm­ission fluid looks clean*
Each gear shifts smoothly
No grinding noises in Reverse
* Dirty or gritty can indicate possible internal transm­ission problem.


Chassis not bent/c­racked
No signs of crumpling

Test Drive

No grinding sounds
No noises or vibrations
No noise on Turns
No pull to 1-side when braking
No rattles or squeaks
No transm­ission clunking sounds
Power to climb hills
Power to pass safely
Vehicle does not drift
Accele­rates smoothly
Brakes work smoothly
Goes straight when hands off wheel
Good steering control
Revs not too high when idling
Shifts smoothly between gears
Quiet Fans (air & heat)
Quiet Heater/Air condit­ioner
Choose a half hour route that goes through city streets, winding hills and fast driving freeway.


Vehicle rests level
Corners respond when bouncing*
When bouncing the vehicle's corners, no creaking noises are made and the car resumes its position.