Six Tips to Help Purchase a Quality Used Vehicle

Six Tips to Help Purchase a Quality Used Vehicle

Buying a used car or truck is a form of art. A savvy auto buyer with the right experience and knowledge can easily purchase high quality, reliable used vehicles. Tremendous savings from its true market price no less. Conversely, inexperienced or first-time used car shoppers can easily get taken for a ride and end up with a lemon. Not knowing what to look for when buying a used car can have a devastating effect on your finances. Listed below are six tips to help you successfully purchase a quality used vehicle without getting burned.

1. Test Drive:

One of the most important phases in evaluating a used vehicle is taking it for a test drive. When taking a used car for a spin you should focus on its overall condition while taking mental notes. Is the vehicle running excessively rough? Are there any abnormal sounds, smells, leaks, or smoke being emitted from any of the engine, mechanical or electrical components?

It is essential to check a vehicle’s steering and brake responsiveness during a test drive. Fiddle with as many gauges and knobs as possible, like the radio, air conditioning, lights, etc. to verify they are in working order. Driving over bumps helps you determine the condition of the automobile’s suspension along with its overall ride quality. If possible, take the vehicle out onto the highway and see how it holds up under higher velocity driving conditions.

2. Vehicle History Report:

Obtaining a used car or truck’s vehicle history report from a reputable verification service provider such as Carfax or Autocheck is highly recommended. Researching an automobile’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) reveals crucial information about its accident and repair history, along with its ownership and registration records.

A reliable vehicle history report lets prospective car buyers know if an automobile has a branded or salvaged title. This occurs when a licensed insurance company officially designates a vehicle as a “total loss” due to a severe accident, flooding, or any other type of catastrophic disaster. Running a car or truck’s vehicle history report also confirms its odometer reading accuracy to ensure no mileage rollback has transpired.

3. Exterior Walk-Around Inspection:

When evaluating a used car or truck’s exterior, stroll around the outside of the vehicle while visually inspecting for any noticeable damage. At first glance, there should not be any fluid leaks or broken components. Here are some specific areas of a used vehicle to examine before purchasing.

Rust and Paint:

Any paint or rust damage will only get worse over time if left unchecked. Corrosion and oxidation not only eat away at your vehicle’s paint and metal parts but at your bank account as well. Minor patches of rust or paint discoloration on a used car isn’t the end of the world. However, large expansive areas of rust or damaged paint can signal big-money repairs in the immediate future.


Visually inspecting a car or truck’s frame for any bending, warping or impact is vital when purchasing a used vehicle. Any sign of collision history should be considered a major red flag and can have a ripple effect throughout the vehicle in terms of performance, wear and safety.


Looking over a car or truck’s wheels and tires should be a part of every used vehicle’s pre-sale inspection regime. Make sure all wheels are in good condition with no noticeable structural damage. The tires should all be the same make and model with plenty of tread remaining and no cracking on the sidewalls. Uneven tread wear on the tires is a sign of poor balance and alignment. Improperly aligned wheels and tires can signal much more serious mechanical problems, including a malfunctioning steering system, damaged suspension or frame issues.

4. Engine Examination:

When checking under the hood of a used vehicle make sure, the vehicle is not running. Glance over the engine and connected components for any obvious signs of damage. The next step will be examining the motor closely for corrosion or fluid leaks. All automotive fluid levels should be inspected for the proper measurement as well as the correct color and clarity.

5. Interior Cabin Inspection:

When stepping inside a used automobile’s interior cabin, one of the first areas to focus on is its upholstery. Closely examine the vehicle’s interior for any cracks, stains, and tears, as they can be very costly to repair or replace. All used vehicle’s electronic components including its audio system as well as it’s heating and air conditioning unit should be in solid working order.

6. Consult a Trusted Mechanic:

Most reputable automotive service centers offer used car inspection services for a small fee. Before forking over your hard-earned cash for a used vehicle why not have a highly trained mechanic give you their professional opinion on its sales-worthiness.

If you aren’t sure where to go for a used car inspection or are looking for top-of-the-line, honest, reliable service, then bring your used vehicle over to us at Carolina Mobile Auto. Conveniently located in Winston Salem, NC just off Interstate 40 and South Stratford Road, here at Carolina Mobile Auto our ASE certified automotive technicians have happily provided the local community with high quality used auto inspection service for the past 15 years.

Lastly, we look forward to servicing your vehicle here at Carolina Auto Service.  We are located at 1418 South Stratford Road Suite C Winston-Salem NC 27103.

Carolina Auto Service