New cars come with a high price tag and quick depreciation, meaning your pricey investment soon turns upside down. To avoid overspending, many people choose to buy a used vehicle over a new one in order to save a bit of money. Used vehicles can be just as good as new ones, but there are four things to look at when buying a used car in order to avoid buying a car with any hidden problems. Special Thanks to Kayser Used Cars of Madison, WI for sponsoring this post on used car buying tips. 

The Four Main Things to Look at When Buying a Used Car

things to look at when buying a used carAppearance

First impressions are for more than just blind dates. When buying a used car, check the inside and outside condition of the vehicle to be sure that there hasn’t been a lot of wear and tear or hidden accidents that weren’t fixed by a professional. Open the hood to take a look at the engine and parts. You don’t have to know anything about engines, simply make sure there are no dirty, rusted parts which can be an indication of trouble down the road. On the interior, make sure nothing is ripped or stained.

Road Test

The good old test drive is not a thing of the past. Take the car on both local roads and highways to see how it performs. You can get a good feel for how the car handles in different environments, how the car shifts and responds to sharp turns, and the condition of the brakes. You can hear and feel if the engine runs smoothly, but make sure to turn the radio off and keep your eyes and ears open on a test drive. Lastly, park somewhere and test all the electronics to be sure everything is working properly. 

While you are parked checking on the electrical system, be sure to get out of the vehicle and inspect for any leaks while the car is running. Move the car to another parking spot to see if any leaks occurred while you were parked. Black fluid could be leaking oil, green fluid could be a leak in the cooling system, and pink could be a leak in the transmission. 


Check prices on a site like Kelley Blue Book and compare reviews of the make and model car you are interested in purchasing by doing a simple search on Google. You can also get a vehicle history report if the car is being sold through a dealership, or you can get one yourself through CARFAX. There is sometimes a nominal fee for the car history, but it may be worth it in the long run to avoid costly repairs in the future. 


Don’t make a spur of the moment decision. If you really like a vehicle after checking it over and road testing it, wait a day so you have time to do research on the vehicle. You don’t want to be stuck with buyer’s remorse. You can also come up with a game plan for negotiating the best price, or even enlist the help of a friend or relative who may be able to give the vehicle a better inspection than you can or may know a few more things to look at when buying a used car. 


Have you ever purchased a used car? What was the experience like?
Do you have any other things to look at when buying a used car?