The Ultimate Checklist for Buying a Second-Hand Car — What to Look Out For!

Anupama Nair
Vicara
Published in
4 min readDec 12, 2022

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A second-hand car has lots of perks as well as some challenges. If you own a second-hand car, you are saving money and freeing up space in your garage. But, keeping an eye on the resale value, reliability and maintenance is equally important. It is important to know what to look out for when buying a second-hand car so that you don’t end up paying more than you should for it. Here’s a checklist for buying a second-hand vehicle:

Make sure the odometer hasn’t rolled back

You know that the odometer reading can’t be trusted on a new car, so why would you trust it on a used one?

There are lots of ways that an odometer can be tampered with so check the odometer reading and make sure it matches up with the car’s description. If it doesn’t, don’t buy the car.

If the seller seems a little too eager to get you to ignore the reading on the odometer, then you might want to walk away from the sale. There are lots of reasons why this could happen, but none of them are good. If the seller has something to hide, it is unlikely that you will be happy with your purchase.

Test-drive and check suspension, braking, and steering

These are all important things to check on any used car. You wouldn’t buy a used car if you didn’t plan to drive it, so make sure that you take it for a test-drive and check the way it drives.

Check the brake and steering system and the suspension. If you are not a mechanic, you can ask an auto technician to do a pre-purchase inspection of the car before you buy it. If the car has high mileage, try to test it on a highway to see if there is any unusual vibration or noise.

If the car is old enough to have a manual transmission, make sure to try it, too. It’s easy to overlook a problem when test-driving a car, so pay attention to everything and don’t be afraid to walk away from a car that doesn’t feel right.

Ask for the service history

If the car has a service history, you can have a better idea of how well it has been maintained. Ideally, you want a car with regular servicing. If the car doesn’t have a service history, you can still make an assumption that it has been regularly serviced.

Make sure that the mileage on the car matches the service interval. If the car has a long interval, it may mean that the car has been sitting around in a garage a lot of the time. It also may not have been properly maintained. This might be a sign that the car is not reliable.

Check under the hood to make sure it’s mechanically sound

If you can, lift up the hood and take a look at the engine. You don’t need to be a mechanic to know if the engine is in good enough shape to keep running. You can see if there are any leaks or signs of wear and tear.

You can also see if the oil and coolant levels are full. Make sure that the engine is clean, as this can be an indication that the car has been well-maintained. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, ask the seller for an explanation of any red flags you see. If the seller seems defensive about something you find under the hood, it might be a good idea to walk away from the sale.

Check the current market value

You can use websites like cardekho or droom to find out the current value of the car you want to buy. This way you can see if the seller is asking a reasonable price. You can make a better decision when you know how much a car like the one you want should cost.

Before you go to look at a car, make sure that you have a ballpark idea of how much it is worth. Look at similar models and years of cars to get an idea of how much they are selling for.

Find Out About the Previous Owners

If you can, ask the previous owner about the car. If they are selling the car, they are more likely to be honest with you.

If they are buying the car from someone else, they may not know everything about the car. You can ask the owner when they last did maintenance on the car and if there have ever been any problems with it.

This can be a good way to get more information about the car without seeming too suspicious. If you know someone who has owned the same car before, try to talk to them about their experience. This can be a good way to find out more about the car without seeming too suspicious.

Buy from trusted dealers

In India, you can not get a CarProof report. This report will tell you if there is anything wrong with the car that the owner didn’t tell you about. You can find out if the car has been in any accidents and if it has any outstanding loans. While this won’t tell you if the car is mechanically sound or if it is worth the asking price, it can help you get a better idea of what you’re getting into.

But, since this is not an option in India, the next best thing is to choose a transparent dealer.

Our top picks can be found in this article here. But if you’re looking for a quick answer, we’d say you ought to pick Spinny or Droom. That said, whoever you buy the car from, if you find something wrong with the car, walk away from the sale. You don’t want to be stuck with a car that has a lot of issues.

However, it’s worth noting that sellers like Spinny are going above and beyond to bring about transparency in the Indian car industry by implementing technology that enables complete transparency.

Want to know more?

See how Spinny makes second-hand car purchases safe!

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