Prepared by Staff

Q. What should I look for when buying a used car?

A. When you shop for a used car, you may find the following checklist helpful. Make sure you or your mechanic check for leaks, cracks, breaks, odd noises, and missing or inoperable parts in the systems of the car.

Here are a few key problems to look for:
Frame and body:
Is the frame straight and solid?

Is there excessive oil leakage? Are the belts in place? Is the block or head cracked? Is the exhaust normal?

Transmission and drive shaft:
Is the transmission fluid the right color and seepage normal? Is the transmission solid? Is the drive shaft in good shape?

Cooling system:
Does the water pump function properly? Is there any leakage, including any from the radiator?

Electrical system:
Does the battery leak? Do the alternator, generator, battery, and starter work properly?

Brake system:
Do the warning lights work? Is the brake pedal firm under pressure? Does the vehicle stop in a straight line? Check the hoses, drum and lining for soundness. Are structural and mechanical parts solid?

Steering system:
Is there too much free play in the steering? Are the front wheels aligned properly? Check the power unit belts for cracks or slippage and the unit fluid levels.

Fuel system:
Is there any visible leakage?

Do gauges and warning devices work? Do the air conditioner, heater, and defroster work?

Check the tread for depth of wear, unusual wear patterns, the tire sizes for matching, and for any other obvious damage.

Look for any visible cracks, damage, or repairs. Check for loose or missing mounting bolts.

Exhaust system:
Check for leakage and exhaust smoke when the engine is running.