CAR BUYING CHECKLIST
Drive the car and check the the odometer. Does it show the speed when you drive? If not, then the odometer is disconnected, and you cannot know the actual mileage. The car may have 80,000 miles on it OR 280,000 miles on it, and you'll never know.
Even if the odometer works correctly, check the car's title to make sure it says "ACTUAL MILEAGE." If the car's title indicates that the mileage is unknown, then that means that someone messed with the odometer, and it no longer shows the actual mileage.
Check brakes. & Emergency or handbreak works?
Drive the car forward and backward. Make sure the transmission works.
Is smoke coming from the exhaust when you turn on the engine?
Step on the gas. See any smoke? If there is black smoke, don't buy it!!!
Check hood cover underneath and look for oil marks.
Does the engine look very-very clean? It may have been cleaned up to cover up a leaking engine.
Is the car very greasy underneath?
Is the car rusted underneath?
Was the body repainted? It may have been in an accident.
Check for accident marks. If the car was in an accident, the seller usually won't mention it, because it severely degrades the value.
Check the engine oil and radiator water. If it looks like there is engine oil in the water or water in the oil, it may be an indication of a blown headgasket! This requires a major repair and brings down the value of the car a whole lot.
Does the car have a towing package? If it has, the car may have been used to tow a boat. That wears the transmission.
Are there holes on the exhaust pipe? Does it sound like it has a hole on it?
Check the AC. Is there gas in the system?
Check the engine belts.
Check the sunroof. Does it work? Look for leaks and cracks.
If the van or SUV has a tailgate, open it. Check to make sure it stays open. If it goes down gradually, it's a minor repair, but you can go lower on the price because of this.
Check power seats. Make sure they work.
Carefully check the windows for minor cracks, holes, and deep scratches especially the front windshield. If the price is painted on the window, check under the paint, too.
Make sure all the windows work. Roll them down and up one by one.
Check operation of electric side view mirrors.
Check the lights, brake light, turn signals.
Check the radio and tape player.
Check the tires.
Make sure all four rims look the same. It's okay if they are not the same, but you can go lower on the price if one of them is different.
Check the top of the car and the rest of the body for rust, bumps, holes, and scratches.
Check engine idle.
Check Hood release, gas and trunk releases.
Check windshield wiper and horn.
Check inside ceiling.
Check cruise control.