Checklist for Buying a Used Car in 2023

Posted Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

Creating a checklist for buying a used car in 2023 is a wise move, as it can help you make an informed and cost-effective decision when you’re ready to purchase your next vehicle. We'll guide you through the essential steps and considerations when buying a used car in 2023.    


Checklist 1: Check Manufacturer's Warranty

You should know whether the vehicle you're considering purchasing is still under the manufacturer's original warranty. Ask the dealership or current owner whether the vehicle protection plan or service contract can be transferred to the new owner. The presence of the manufacturer's original warranty can mitigate the risks associated with buying a used vehicle, as it can potentially save you money on repairs.


Checklist 2: Get a History Report

Prior to purchasing a preowned car, it's essential to obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report from the brand's service center. These reports will include information about past accidental or damage issues. To access the detailed history, you'll only need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Services like Carfax or AutoCheck can provide you with this report, which can uncover crucial information such as accident history, title issues, and more. This checklist will help ensure that you approach the process of buying a used car in 2023 with confidence.


Check the report carefully for information, including: 

  • Car accidents and structural damage
  • Any indication of flood or water damage
  • If the vehicle complies with emission inspection standards
  • The car's original purchase date, previous ownership, and transfer of ownership
  • Whether the airbags have been deployed
  • Existing warranty coverage or remaining warranty period
  • The last reported odometer reading
  • Potential service records


Generally, only some of the accidents are documented by the owners, so proper inspection and research are required for a used car.  


Checklist 3: Review the Interior

The interior condition of the used car should be checked before buying any vehicle. Here are some key points to consider when checking the interior of a potential vehicle:

  • Begin by turning the key to the initial position and carefully observe whether all warning lights illuminate
  • Assess the dashboard's temperature gauge for any irregularities
  • Thoroughly inspect the functionality of various components, including turn signals, windshield wipers, heating system, air conditioning, mirrors, power windows, sunroof, seatbelts, AUX and Bluetooth systems, seats, and electrical components
  • Pay attention to any musty odors within the car, and be vigilant for signs of potential leaks or indications of water or flood damage
  • Inquire about the status of the airbags – whether they have been deployed and, if so, whether they have been replaced. It's crucial that all airbags have been replaced, preferably by authorized facilities or dealerships
  • Check to see if a spare tire is included and what condition it is in


Checklist 4: Review the Exterior

The exterior condition of the used car should be checked before buying any vehicle. It can be hard to spot irregularities in the exterior if you don’t know what to look for. Most of us are not professional body and paint specialists. But here are some exterior details to watch out for:


  • Check the car's exterior condition, including paint, chips, or scratches
  • Inspect the alignment of the exterior panels and whether parts have been replaced
  • Are the tires mismatched? If you find any mismatch, ask for the tires to be replaced. Tires have different expected wear rates, speed ratings, and tractions.
  • Look for any signs of previous accidents or damage. Check for overspray, peeling, cracked, chipped, or mismatched paint. This exterior work reflects the work done on the car due to hail damage or accidents.
  • Always check for dents, scratches, and rust on the underside of the vehicle that might affect the fuel lines or undercarriage. 


Checklist 5: Engine Checklist 

Checking engine conditions is crucial before purchasing a used car, as you are making a huge investment. Here is a checklist for possible engine error warnings:


  • Perform visual inspection for the engine oil and possible coolant leaks. Ensure there is no burnt smell and leaking oil, as it might lead to serious engine issues.
  • Visually check the exhaust for smoke: gray, cloudy smoke or black smoke indicates a problem with the way the engine is using oil.
  • Inspect for dirty, loose, and corroded battery terminals.
  • Check the level of the oil using the dipstick. The oil on the dipstick should look fresh, not dark and old. Milky or sludgy oil can reflect poor maintenance and lead to serious engine problems.


Checklist 6: Other Tips For Buying a Used Car

  • Take a test drive! Spend time behind the wheel to assess how the car performs. Consider factors like engine noise, brakes, steering, and overall comfort.
  • Choose a trustworthy car dealer. If you buy a used car from a private seller, ensure it has a clear title. Always check the reviews and reputation of the dealer before making the purchase.
  • Check the brakes for any noises; do the brakes grab, seem soft and spongy, or pulsate? 
  • Ensure the odometer is functioning correctly.
  • Verify the proper operation of all electronic features, including warning lights, cruise control, air conditioning, heating, stereo system, and gauges.
  • Confirm the functionality of the horn.
  • Examine the glove compartment for the presence of the owner's manual.
  • Exercise caution if the dealer prevents you from independently inspecting the car.


Where to Buy

Buying a used car in 2023 can be a rewarding experience when you take the time to research, inspect, and negotiate. By following this used car buying checklist and exercising due diligence, you'll increase the likelihood of finding a great car to meet your needs. 


You can buy any used car from A & J C Auto Inc.; we are happy to provide as much detail as possible about the used vehicle you are considering. We include the year, car brand, model, trim, drivetrain, transmission, engine details, mileage, doors, exterior color, interior color, VIN, and Stock No. Our professionals understand the value of this information for all buyers.


A & J C Auto Inc. provides high-quality, pre-owned vehicles to our clients. Contact us at or (561) 582-8384 to get all the answers to your questions before purchasing any used car. Happy car hunting!


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