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July 21, 2016

How to Inspect a Used Car

When buying a used car, you need to know what to look for, to be able to spot signs of trouble or poor maintenance. Ideally, you would want to have the car inspected by your mechanic before you buy it, but that may not always be possible. Here are a few basic things to look for on the exterior, interior and under the hood to make sure the car is not a lemon.

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  1. Look for an exterior that has no dents, scratches or appearance of rust.

Take a walk around the car and inspect it for any scratches, dent, or other damage. Watch out for colors that might be a little off – it’s a signal that the car has had some body work done. Step back a little from the car and look at it again. When you are farther away, it is easier to see colors that do not match. You also want to feel the texture of the paint. If it is different on any part of the car, this could also be a sign that it has been repainted. Don’t forget to check the windshield as well for any chips or scratches.

  1. The engine should start right away and run easily.

Check to see if there is any smoke coming from the exhaust. This is a bad sign. Naturally, the engine should run for the most part effortlessly, without any sputtering or loud noises. When you test drive the car (and you should always test drive the car!), keep an eye out for any hesitation or jerking motion when you push on the accelerator pedal. When you pick up speed or slow down, the transmission should shift smoothly. You should not feel any jolts or delays.

When stopping, the engine should idle quietly and easily also. There should be no pulling to the left or right as you drive. If there is, then you probably have wheel alignment issues. The same is true when you are pressing on the brakes – make sure there is no pulling to one side or the other, and that there are no noises. You should also check to make sure that the steering wheel does not shake when you are putting on the brakes.

When you check under the hood, look at the battery terminal for corrosion. Look under the car to see if there are any drips. The only fluid that should be dripping under the car is the water from the air conditioning unit. Check the engine oil level to make sure it is where it should be. The oil should look clean. Also, check for any kind of deposits or gunk on the dipstick. If there is, it is a sign that the car has not been well maintained.


  1. There should not be any damage inside the car, and there should be no strong odors.

Look for rips or tears in the seats. Also, check the power windows, locks and mirrors to be sure they are all working well. Turn on the air conditioning to make sure it is running properly. Also, turn on the heat, and check to make sure there are no odors coming out of the vents when you are running the heater or air conditioner.

Looking for a reliable used car in the greater Dallas region? Hop on over to the PAACO Automotive Group location nearest you! Or shop some of our online inventory. You also may give us a call at 877-810-4555 for more information.

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