Taking the time to check that everything works on a used car is essential. Want to know more about it? Take a look at our guide on what to look for when buying a used vehicle.
If you care about the maintenance and safety of your vehicle but you don’t know much about mechanics, don’t worry. We will explain how to check a used vehicle as easily as possible by listening and observing like a pro.
OBSERVATION: If an indicator light comes on when the vehicle is started and goes out a few seconds later, it means that the system is working properly when the car has ABS or an ESP system.
LISTENING: If you hear a high-pitched noise when braking, this is a sign that you should change the brake discs.
LISTENING: Vibrations during acceleration or turning indicate that the transmissions are in poor condition.
TEST: Release the clutch gradually at 3rd or 4th gear while pressing the accelerator. If the car does not stall immediately, there is probably a transmission failure.
TEST: Release the clutch slowly without depressing the accelerator. If the engine gets stuck at any time, the clutch may be damaged.
ODOUR: If the oil smells like fuel or is dirty, it must be changed. The tank must be filled if the oil level is below the mark indicated on the dipstick.
LISTENING: Tick-tock-like or high-pitched sounds tend to indicate problems with engine valves.
OBSERVATION: If the oil indicator light is on or the temperature has reached the red zone, do not drive.
4. Battery pack
TEST by starting the motor
- Step 1: Start the engine by turning the ignition on until the starter switches on for 2 seconds.
- Step 2: Check what the probe indicates
- Step 3: a battery with a voltage below 12 volts is certainly sulphated and cannot be charged
OBSERVATION: Check the wear and tear of the vehicle by comparing its age with the number of kilometres.
TEST: Check the brake pedal for wear. If the bodywork is more damaged than expected or the tires look too old, the odometer reading may be incorrect.
ASK: the vehicle’s maintenance logbook and check if there has been a replacement of the odometer, if you are not sure, ask a professional.
6. Steering wheel
LISTENING: A squealing in the tires as the wheels rotate may indicate a low level of power steering fluid.
TEST: If the steering wheel is difficult to turn, the power steering system may be defective due to low power steering fluid level, or leakage, damage to the power steering belt.
PENTIATE: If the steering wheel vibrates while the engine is idling, this indicates that the belt is damaged and needs to be replaced.
TEST: Check that the vehicle does not squeal when cornering, or that it does not swing too much at low speed.
OBSERVATION: check the level of the vehicle
8. Check the tires
CHECK: the level of tire wear. Uneven wear may indicate alignment or suspension problems.
OBSERVATION: Make sure there are no nails, glued stones, cracks, tears, scratches or bulges in the tires.
ASK: if the tires have been inspected at least once a year, for the first five years. You can find the date of manufacture on the side of the tire.
9. Lights and headlights
Day and night:
- ✓ Stop lights
- ✓ Flashing lights
- ✓ Position lights
- ✓ Headlights
10. Vehicle maintenance logbook
ASK: Check the maintenance logbook and vehicle history. You can also request a copy of these documents.
VERIFICATION: if the report shows several accidents, ownership of the vehicle cannot be transferred.