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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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Odometer reading

Check the odometer of the car for the mileage reading. This is important because the mileage indicates the car’s age and should be consistent with the advert and car’s documents. A regular driver will drive 15000 to 25000 km annually. Cars ‘age’ by both time and mileage. Buying a 10-year old car with very low odometer reading or a 2-year old car with very high km’s might not be the most sensible purchase.
It is very important to compare the condition of the car’s interior to the readout on the odometer. The wear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel, floor pedals should be consistent with the car’s mileage as these items clearly wear with age. Cars with high odometer readings will often show wear on the driver’s seat and/or the steering wheel may have a shiny appearance. Beware of fresh pedal pads on a car that shows a high odometer reading for example. An overly worn passenger compartment coupled with low mileage can be an indication of odometer fraud.

Steering Column & Ignition

You can find out a lot about a vehicle with a close examination of the steering wheel and the column. If the car has high mileage, the steering wheel will be heavily worn or be extremely shiny whereas the column might be scratched heavily by keys. Check the dashboard for cracks too. A car might not have been regularly ‘garaged’ if there is extensive sun damage.
See if there is a lot of play in the column, even with the steering interlock activated. Excessive damage to the steering column and ignition could indicate there was a previous attempt to steal the car.
Test the ignition key / switch. See how difficult it is to turn the car on and off and whether the starter hesitates at all. A modern car should start almost instantaneously. While starting the car, check the ‘Engine Light’, ‘Air Bags Light’ as well as the ‘ABS Light’ for any errors that might show up if the car is equipped with an on-board computer.
Continued on page 9…
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