5 things to check for while buying a used car

Snapshot – Buying a used car comes with a host of advantages. Click here for all that, and then some more. The other side of the coin of course, is the hassles and nasty surprises a used car can throw at you, especially if you’re not well prepared before buying one. CarToq lists out five things that you must check thoroughly before buying a used car. Following these steps will ensure that you give yourself the best chance of not landing up with a lemon.

5 things to check for while buying a used car

Engine, chassis, and suspension check

Inspecting a car is something that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Your best bet? Your trusty neighborhood mechanical who can be trusted to cover your back. Take your mechanic along when you’re used car shopping and reward him generously to ensure that he does a great job evaluating the car you’re interested in.

Things to watch out for are the condition of the engine, the overall shape of the chassis including the underbody and also the suspension. An extended test drive will reveal a lot about the car, from the way it rides, to the way it accelerates and stops.

Brake judder, car pulling towards one side of the road and mismatched paint jobs are tell tale signs of accidents. For petrol cars, the spark plug can reveal a lot about the state of the engine and so can the exhaust. Avoid a diesel car that smokes excessively even under gradual acceleration.

Service history

Car makers’ authorized service centers have detailed computerized records of the service rendered to a car. Getting your seller to be transparent about the service history of the car is a major step that one needs to take before making the used car purchase.

Avoid cars that are maintained by independent workshops if the seller/car is unknown to you as it makes verifying the service history of the vehicle in question dodgy at best. Once you have access to the service history of a car, ensure that parts have been replaced at prescribed intervals and maintenance is carried out as per schedule.

Also, go through warranty claims if any, with a fine toothed comb, as you don’t want a car with a history of warranty repairs, or in other words – a lemon. If you find discrepancies in the parts replaced/maintenance schedule, it is better to steer clear from such a car as it could be the forebear of a failure due to abuse or careless maintenance.

Insurance history

Motor insurers offer a no-claim-bonus every time a car owner renews insurance if the car hasn’t been involved in an insurance claim over the policy’s previous term. Checking the insurance history of a car will reveal whether a car has been involved in a major accident.

Minor scrapes and subsequent insurance claims, if documented properly, should not be the deal downer in case of well maintained cars as driving in Indian cities usually results in a small knock or two to the car. These minor knocks/scrapes can result in misaligned bumpers or a dent or two, and shouldn’t be the sole reason for you to reject an otherwise perfectly good used car.


While buying a used car, ask for access to the car’s documentation such as the ownership and tax records. Running the car’s registration number through traffic police database will reveal whether the car has been involved in any accident, theft, traffic violations or illegal activity.

Also, ensure that you stay away from a stolen car as buying one, knowingly or unknowingly is a sure-shot recipe for legal trouble. Clean records minus major traffic violations also indicate that the car has been driven by an owner who is a careful driver, a facet that could often translate into a better car overall.

Price of other similar used cars

Once you’re satisfied with the condition of the car, documentation and other aspects, it is time to make a quote for the used car. Before taking this final step, it is important that you know the going rate of similar used cars in your town or city. Knowing prices of similar used cars beforehand will ensure that you don’t get swindled.