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The Ultimate Used Car Inspection Guide

Inspect a used vehicle like a Pro! Everything you need to know - All in one place.

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EXTERIOR: INSPECTING THE BODYWORK

Carefully inspect the bodywork of the car, taking note of any rust spots, dents or scratches.
If you suspect that a panel have been previously repaired, ask the seller if you could use your magnet to see if it adheres to the steel body panels. If there’s been rust or other damage that’s been cut, polished off or filled in holes, your magnet won’t stick to the spot where that touch-up work has been done.

RIP – Rust in Places?

Even though there has been a lot of technology advances in the painting process of new cars, rust remains one of a vehicle’s greatest enemies, especially if the vehicle is constantly left outside or at coastal areas. Rust is usually not an indication of how mechanically sound the rest of the car might be and is generally more detrimental to a vehicle’s value in appearance. Nevertheless, it is expensive to repair properly and not easy to reverse and is often your first clue as to how well the car was looked after by its owner.
In general bubbling paintwork indicates rust and is most common around the wheel arches, bumpers and window frames. Look at the base of the windshield as well as the area directly behind the wheel wells where water damage commonly occur in old cars. If a water leak is present, the panels will begin to rust from the inside out. Another common area where water damage might occur is the door bases. Check the leading edges, especially the lower edges of the vehicle’s doors. Use a flashlight and gently probe the bottoms of the doors with a screwdriver.

Panel Fit & Alignment

Examine the panel fit. If the car was in an accident and poorly repaired, the panels might not fit well and the gaps between the panels would not be the same. Remember that panel fit isn’t always perfect especially with entry level cars, but gross panel mismatches should be a hint of past damage.
Open and close all the doors and boot lid to see if they shut securely. Doors that does not close properly might have gotten that way from an accident.

Windows & Lights

Look at the lights and make sure all the lenses are relatively clear. Cloudy headlight lenses could indicate that moisture has gotten inside. Look at the windshield for cracks of any size. Test all the doors, their windows and locks. Although it may seem unnecessary, but every little shortcoming will be come your problem and could be used to negotiate the price further down.
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