How to Inspect a Used Car for Purchase

Hey guys, ChrisFix here, today, I’m gonna show you how to inspect a used car before you buy it. I just drove by this car for sale on the side of the road, so I’m gonna go take a look at it and show you everything that I normally look at when checking out a used car. Now there’s no owner to open the doors, so I can’t go for a test drive or anything like that. I literally just saw this on the side of the road, and I’m seeing this car for the first time with you guys. So I’m gonna show you how to figure out if it’s worth the time and effort to call up the owner and go for a test drive. Now the best part is, anybody could inspect a used car, you don’t need to be a car expert. You just need to know what to look at, and I’m gonna show you all of that. So let’s begin. Now when inspecting a used car, there are five main things to look at. The first thing you need to look at is the For Sale sign. It gives you a ton of information, such as mileage and price, sometimes that price is so ridiculously high it’s not even worth your time, cause you’ll never negotiate it down to your buying point. If all of that checks out, the second thing you’re gonna look at is the body. You’re gonna look at dents, scratches, rust, and stuff like that. The third thing we’re gonna look at, are the wheels and tires, because tires and wheels could get expensive, and it’s definitely important that your tires are in good shape. The fourth thing we’re gonna look at, is the interior. Since we can’t get in the car, we’re gonna look through the window. But we’re gonna look for stuff like rips, tears, and any options the car has. And number five, the last thing we’re gonna look at, is underneath the car. You’re gonna look for any rust, leaks, and any damage to the frame that indicates that it might have been in an accident. This might seem like a lot to remember, But I made it really simple for you, and in the description is a link to my to my how to buy a used car checklist. This way you can print this out, keep it in your car, and you wont forget to inspect anything when you see a used car on the side of the road. It’s all right here, and you can even take notes, so let’s get started. The for sale sign is gonna give you tons of information. You wanna look at the year, which is an ’04; this is an X-Type; this is the 2.5, cause they did make a 3.0 The mileage is very important, and then it gives you some information. It says it runs great, needs nothing, all-wheel drive, navigation, sunroof. Over here it says text and call, and you always call, I’ll show you how to do that, at the end of this video, I’ll explain the best questions to ask ’em, and then he has his original price crossed off, and then it says reduced to 3,000. Now this is a little trick people use cause then you feel like ‘Okay, I don’t have to negotiate, I already got 500 dollars off,’ but don’t fall for it. Just focus on the actual price, which is three grand. And if they don’t include a price on their for sale sign, then don’t even bother with the car. Think about it, would you shop in a store that doesn’t have prices on its items? No! So don’t waste your time, that’s one tip I’ve learned after looking at thousands of used cars. So now that we’ve looked at the for sale sign, let’s go look at number two, the body of the car. Alright, this is what everybody’s good at, inspecting the body of the car. You’re just gonna be looking at the bodywork, to see if there’s any damage. So let’s start at the front here, right away something that grabbed my eye is this scratch right here. Unfortunately, even a little scratch like this, could cost you a lot of money. So this brings up the important point of you have to figure out what you’re looking for. If blemishes like this don’t bother you, scratches and dents can significantly drop the price of the car, cause people really focus on looks, and that ends up working in your favor. And don’t think that fixing scratches and dents is easy. Even to remove a dent like this, could be up to 100 bucks. And then if there’s a scratch where you need to do some paintwork, matching paint, especially on an older car, is difficult. So just keep stuff like that in mind. Now if you care about scratches, and you saw this, I’d walk away from the car, because this would be an expensive fix. Even though for this purchase I don’t mind some scratches, these are pretty bad. And speaking about scratches, here’s a really useful tip; when you’re looking at the body of the car, never inspect a wet car. Whether it’s from rain, or the car’s just been washed, water’s gonna hide scratches and dents. Now if we come around to the passenger side, there are some scratches here on the door, that have been touched-up, but they didn’t match the paint very well. And then if you’re looking at the rocker panel here, looks like there’s a hole covered by Duct Tape. Yeah, that’s a hole. And there’s a dent here. But that hole is pretty bad, and it’s gonna need some repair work. And then there’s a dent right up here at the front quarter panel, which stands out pretty good, I noticed that when I first saw the car. Even worse is this front bumper, which they really should have just left alone, looks like they tried to glue it or something. And that’s gonna be a pain to fix. So overall, the body’s just in fair condition. It’s on the edge of what I would purchase, but I think these problems will help me knock down the price, and just because this is gonna be a commuter car for the city, it’s not a deal breaker for me. Now that we’re at the front of the car, the next thing to look at are these headlights. You can see these are all hazed up, and these headlights can get expensive. But you know I have a permanent fix, which is pretty cheap, so this isn’t a big deal. Now’s also a good time to check out the glass. Look for any cracks or chips, because glass could get expensive. On this jag, it costs over 500 dollars to replace the windshield. While you’re inspecting the glass, be sure to look at different angles, because sometimes chips are hard to see. And since we’re looking at the glass, check the inspection sticker, because that’ll give you an idea if the car needs to get inspected soon. Also, if the inspection is not up to date, there could be a problem with the car, or the car has been sitting for a while. You could also check out the brake rotors to see if the car has been sitting. On this car, you can see the rotors are shiny, which means it’s been used recently, but if you see rusty rotors, that could indicate that the car has been sitting for a while. And I look for this, because cars are designed to be driven, so if they sit for a long time, they could develop problems that might not pop up on a test drive. Now that’s how you check out the body of the car, we did a great job covering everything, we have a good idea of the condition of the body of this car. So let’s go look at the next thing; the wheels and tires. So we’re gonna see how much life the tires have left; but before that, let’s make sure all four wheels and tires are the same, and not damaged. So the first thing we wanna do is make sure all four tires are the same. In the front we have BF Goodrichs, I checked the other side, and it’s the same. Now I checked the rear, and both rear tires are the same; but they’re a different brand from the front. Now this isn’t the greatest setup, but as long as the tires are all the same size, and as long as the tires in the front match, and the tires in the rear match, that’s okay. What you don’t want to see, is a different tire on each corner. Next make sure all your rims are the same. I had a friend who bought a car, and there were two of the same rim on one side, but on the other side the rims were different, and he didn’t even notice this, until I pointed it out after he bought the car. Now I don’t know about you, but these wheels do not look good on this car, at all. On top of that, these wheels have a ton of curb rash, all around the rim, and the paint is chipping off, so this right here is a big expense. The last thing to check is how much life do the tires have left, since new tires are expensive. To do this, if you have some loose change, grab a penny, and use the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, and put it in the groove of the tire. In the front, Abe Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, so there is plenty of tread left, but in the rear, you can see the top of Abe Lincoln’s head. Which means you need new tires. And if you don’t have a penny, there is a wear indicator band in the tread of the tire. So when that band is touching the edge of the tread, that means you need new tires, right away. Now these rear tires here, would be dangerous to drive on in the rain or the snow. Make sure you go ahead and check each tire, and on this car, the front tires are in good shape, but the rear tires need to be replaced. Tires are very important for safety, and they can get expensive, plus most people don’t think about checking tires on a used car. Now that we’re done looking at the wheels and tires, let’s take a look at the interior. Since the owner isn’t here to open the door for us, we’re gonna have to look through the glass, but there’ll be plenty to look at, so let’s take a look and see. So you’re looking at anything that stands out. The first thing i look at is to see if the car is an automatic or a manual. This is an automatic, which is what I’m looking for. Then take a look at the seats, and see if there are any rips or tears. These seats look like they’re in great shape, next look at the steering wheel, and see if it’s worn out. And again, this looks like it’s in good condition. Also, check out the headliner, to see if it’s sagging anywhere, and in this case it looks good in the front, and in the rear. And the rear seats and carpets look like they’re in good shape as well, except I do see a cut along the middle of the seat. So that pretty much covers the interior. Now, for the last thing we’re gonna look at, let’s check under the car. I’m starting at the front of the car, and the sub-frame looks straight, and it isn’t rusted, next I’m looking for any leaks over by the engine, and there aren’t any visible leaks. Which is good. So now we’ll go from the front of the car, to the side, and we’ll work our way around. These jags are known to have problems with rusting right under the rocker panels. So let’s see if there’s any rust underneath, and looking over here, this looks surprisingly good I actually checked out one Jaguar where I touched this, and the metal broke off in my hand. So if you have an interest in a particular car, definitely do a little research, so you know what to look for while you’re inspecting the used car. Now the other thing is, make sure you look at the frame, and that looks straight, and there’s no rust on that either. Looking towards the center of the car, everything is rust-free, and it all looks really good. Now let’s move to the rear. Under the rear, a good thing to look at is this spare tire carrier, because if the car was in a significant rear end collision, it’s really hard for body shops to unbend this metal, so there would be obvious crumples or damage to this piece of metal if it was hit hard. Looking at the exhaust, it’s rust free, which is great. The rear suspension looks really good, there’s no rust, the shocks aren’t leaking. I don’t see any oil or grease anywhere. Where the differential is, I don’t see any leaks. And looking at the other side, everything looks good there as well. So let’s quickly check out the other side, and this side looks good, with no rust, everything looks straight and solid, and the underside of this car was pretty good compared to some of the other cars I’ve been seeing. Alright, and that covers the five main areas you should look at when inspecting a used car. Hopefully the video was helpful, and if you have your own tips, leave them in the comments section below, because I’m sure there’s gonna be a ton of people looking for all the tips they can get. Stay tuned for the next video, where I show you what questions to ask when you call the owner up on the phone. I’ll also show you all the tips and trick I have, for when you take the car out for a test drive. And also, don’t forget, you can download the ChrisFix used car checklist, with the link in the description.

100 thoughts on “How to Inspect a Used Car for Purchase

  • Just a few bits of info for everyone who is asking in the comments section:
    1.) Those are plate covers not plates. I use them in all of my videos to protect the owner's privacy (and my own privacy). They go on with tape before I film. The real plates are under them.
    2.) This is only part 1 of the series, in part two I meet with the owner to inspect the car:
    3.) I have a new series with buying a parts car Jaguar here:
    4.) You can follow me here for updates and other cool projects:

  • If you were looking at this at the same time you started filming how is there your license plate thing on there

  • You can do a quick check of the suspension by pushing down each corner then letting it back up quickly; it should bounce up and stay there – if it keeps bouncing, the shocks are probably shot.

  • You are right about not buying wet car because wetness hides imperfections of the car's paint. I bought a wet car when it was raining, the car paint looked good when it was wet. Few days later after buying the car, the sun came out and OMG, my car's paint had too much scratches and too much paint fixes on it that were not visible at the time I bought it. The wet car hid so many paint fixes the previous owner did on the car. Never again will I buy a car that is wet.

  • If the owner is "God damned STINKBOTTOMED" its time to look elsewhere.

    STINKBOTTOMED I'm STINKBOTTOMED, you give me a diaper full 'cause you're so wonderful.

  • Hey bro so i found a 2002 honda civic ex coupe, and it has 100k miles and theyre asking for 1800$. Do you think thats fishy or not? Feel free to message me if you want to see pictures of it ill give you my email.

  • And you never know either if we will ever negotiate it down to people’s buying point you can’t presume because that’s a sin and it offends God

  • And he for sale sign might not give you a lot of info there might be a number on it so you can’t presume on that either because that’s a sin and it offends God when you presume

  • And in scripture it says say what you mean and mean what you say and you said it looks strait I’m taking that means good just say it looks good next time

  • To make sure that the car has no filler under the paint, tap it lightly on multiple spots with Your knuckle, if it sounds hollow/metalic then You are golden, if it sounds like banging on a dry wall – run

  • Okay so I just wanted to give you a shout out and tell you thank you so much. My father has passed away and my brother's don't live anywhere near me. I really don't have a male figure in my life so when I went to go buy a car I looked like I really knew what I was doing🤣🤣🤣
    Well I'd looked like it because I did!!!! So thanks to your video again okay. Hugs from the San Francisco Bay Area September 2019💖👩🏽

  • Those are some good tips, but you missed a lot. In the body, check the gap between the various panels (hood/fender, door/fender, door/door), this gap should be equal on both sides and equal from start to end. It should also be even. When looking at tires, the rubber must not be cracking. I agree with you that it's ideal that all 4 are the same, or at least the front & rear pairs are the same. But even more important, the treads should match the mileage on the car. You typically need new tires by 50K, if a car with 50K has worn tires or brand new tires, then the tires agree with the mileage. But if you find 1/2 life tires with 50K, then something is wrong. This car with 130K and a mix of tires & treads tells me that the owner didn't rotate tires regularly and probably didn't take it to mechanic shops very often. Who knows what else they neglected? Oil changes? Last tip, check all visible bolts on fenders, etc. They should appear to be factory painted and not scruffed or repainted. This will tell you if the fender or other part was ever removed for any reason.

  • Imagine driving by your car and seeing this guy putting his name on your license plate recording a YouTube vid😂😂🤧🤦🏼‍♂️

  • Hey Chris, I am a women looking to buy a Acura SLX ( no longer made, I love classics!) I previously had this car and loved it! I found one about 1 1/2 hours away, at an auctioneer. It was on Facebook marketplace but I google mapped the address. I want to do the inspect, the car is a 1998 do I need to get the scanner and oscillator tools? Im going a long way so I want to be fully prepared to do the inspection with a bunch of men staring at me. Any Advice?

  • Saw an agila recently opened the hood and the engine coolant reservoir was completely empty I asked if he had been running it without coolant he said you don't need to fill it on these cars (bear in mind my mum has the same car) I looked at him scoffed said thanks and walked off

  • Hey how are you? I really need some help and I am hoping you will reply. I am trying to find my first car. I’ve found a 1993 Toyota Camry,the body is in GREAT shape,the interior is in GREAT shape!! At first the price was 2000 which was ridiculous because it’s a 93 it’s older than me😂 but I waited and he went down now the final price is 1450. I am using my check from school but my offer is 1200. I used the vin number and the value is 1200 so I’m not beating him out of his money! It has 232k miles,kept tires rotated,& regular oil changes. So what do you think?

    If there is money owing on it and the seller does not pay it off, it can still be taken by the borrower after you pay the private seller.
    If you really want a car with finance, there are 2 options:
    1. ask the seller to pay it off first and check again before you pay them. (Preferred.)
    2. If the seller cannot afford to payoff the loan. Ask the seller to get a total payoff amount from their financial institution, agree on an amount to give the seller and payout the remaining loan amount yourself.

  • So Chris, what are your experiences after buying this car? Is it worth it? Cause I found one for 3000 euros negotiable that looks to be in great shape and I'm interested in trading my MK5 Golf for it! Can't wait for your response 🙂

  • Good tip for checking leaks is after you test drive the car and your happy with every thing have another look under the car before buying cause when the engine oil has heated up its thinner and a higher chance of leaking around the sump and exhaust manifold and check for dampness around were gaskets would be

  • I would say the most useful piece of information before you even go and check out the car is to learn "why is the current owner selling the car"? Some common reasons are:

    1) The car requires a very big maintenance, or very frequent maintenances that the owner does not wanna deal with this anymore.
    2) The owner is upgrading or downgrading. That is, the current body type of the is not suitable for the owner's needs anymore, and he wants to get a car with a different body type.
    3) The owner needs cash fast.
    4) The owner cannot drive the car anymore (too old, etc.).

    Usually, cars listed on classified sites are in the group 1. These are the junk that you wanna avoid. If the current owner thinks that the car needs too much money and/or work, why would you buy his headaches? These are the cars that you wanna avoid. Unfortunately, most of the cars listed on the classified sites are of this type.

    The rest of the cars are the cars that can be bought. Of course, the buyer must inspect the car very throughly before buying it.

  • Chris how would I go about buying a car from a private seller that’s 2 hours away? Financial wise, should I bring cash or a check? Cash seems more flexible since I’m not 100% on the price. But it’s risky bringing cash.

  • How the license plate say his name if he just saw the car🤔 ima call Snowden on you. You illuminati.

  • Another good thing to check before you buy is 'how easy are the parts to come by' and 'are the parts expensive'. I'd say that Jag will be a little pricey

  • chipped windshields in florida aren't a problem as they are covered under state law… however, if there is rust around the window frame, run away – then it won't be changed without expensive bodywork done first

  • Hey Chris how do you feel about buying cars on eBay? I’m looking to spend 7.000 and under for a used bmw found some good ones near my area on eBay

  • One thing I learned from my automotive teacher, is that you need to buy a tread depth gauge. It is much better than a penny and cost almost nothing. To measure a tire correctly you measure the outside and inside of the tread, measuring in at least 8 spots around the tire, I would do more if you could. If there is improper tire wear, such as excessive camber or toe (you can tell the different by running your hand across the tire, toe makes a feathered edge, while camber has normal wear but on one side), improper balancing (sudden dips in tread), over or under inflation. Do not buy a used car with new tires, you may end up spending more getting new tires too often, or getting proper alignment.

  • I’d like to add another helpful tip. If the owner is there let’s say the car is at his or her house. ALWAYS remember you are trespassing on their property. Have a good reason or else they may call the police. Check out their car and negotiate. Don’t get fussy or anything as well because they would see it. Be safe out there guys and gals.

  • actually, there is huge shop that has no prices on items, right in center of the kyiv, ukraine. It has prices for weight, like 1kg, but everything is already weighted by like 200 gramms so you have to figure out on your own, what is 1/5th of the price for example.

  • Check the radio presets if they are not set or are all the same that means the battery was recently disconnected. And that they are trying to hide a code

  • so you want people to buy a car without turning the engine on making sure the timing chain is not tapping away and ready to snap. you dont want people to make sure the gearbox is all good and working order? the MOST IMPORTANT checks are the engine and gearbox

  • U never said to check oil dip stick , to see if owner changed oil, basic maintenance. If oil burnt or globular or black . Then engine inside is black n car engine won't last long.

  • "I literally just saw this on the side of the road" …which is how a LP cover with this channel's logo got on the back of it… totally spontaneously. Appears out of nothing I tells ya!

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