Used Car Checklist

Purchasing a used car can be a rewarding process, if you get the right one.

Let IFCU help! Below is our used car checklist. Head into the experience armed with the right information, and you will come out a winner!

Question Yes No
Does the side of the vehicle have ripples or a dull paint patch? This could indicate previous body damage from rust or an accident. A magnet can help expose bondo or fiberglass. Yes No
Open and close all doors. Look for paint bubbles indicating rust. Look at rubber moldings...Are they brittle or cracked? Yes No
Check the trunk for rust or stains...look under the trunk mat/carpet. Check the spare tire to see if it matches the other tires. Is the jack in the trunk? Yes No
Look under the car while it is running with a flashlight. Are there any leaks? Note any holes in the exhaust system. Note any welding marks along the frame or underbody. Yes No
Check the glass and plastic for cracks and breaks. Make seller replace all burnt out lights and signals. Yes No
Check vinyl roof for tears or lumps which can mean rust. Yes No
Start the engine several times during and after the test drive. Did the owner warm the car up before you arrived? Yes No
Race the engine and check for blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. Yes No
Check the following under the hood: Dry or cracked hoses or belts? Corrosion and rust on the radiator or rusty coolant? Worn or corroded battery terminals? Battery Level? Yes No
With the hood open and car running: slowly accelerate and listen for bad valve knocks. Listen for clicking or grinding Yes No
Let the car idle for 5 minutes and pull forward to check for puddles under the car. This indicated leaks from the transmission or engine seals. Yes No
Check the exhaust while the engine is running. Yes No
Check interior: Look under the mats and carpets and seats and headlines. Check for welding seams or leakage stains. Yes No
Check for missing door handles or control knobs. Yes No
Check the electrical items (radio/ horn/ wipers/ power steering/ brakes/ windows/ door locks/ antennas/ seats). Yes No
Check the cooling and heating systems while the engine is running. Yes No
Brakes: Apply pressure...Hold for 30 seconds...If pedal continues to the floor there is probably a leak. Yes No
Check the clutch (for standard transmission). Put car in first gear and slowly let out the clutch. It should stall 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up. Yes No
Automatic Transmission: slip the transmission from neutral to reverse and neutral to drive. Listen for clunking sounds. Yes No
Mileage: 12000/year is average Yes No
Test drive for 30-45 minutes if you can. Drive on a varried terrain. Yes No
When you return from the drive you should check under the hood for leaks or fluid. Listen for hissing or steam. Yes No
Check for mission catalytic converters which are expensive to replace. Yes No

Questions for Previous Owners:

Ask these questions of the person selling the car, or if you are buying through a car dealer, the previous owner whose name you should get from the dealer.

  1. What was the mileage at the time you traded it in?
  2. What was the car used for?
  3. How was most of the mileage acquired?
  4. How long did you own the car and did you buy it new?
  5. What kind of mechanical problems did you have?
  6. What work was done on it while you had it?
  7. How often was it serviced and who did it?
  8. Who else drove the car besides you?
  9. Did you use the car to pull trailers?
  10. How many owners has the car had?
  11. How much oil is it using?
  12. How many miles per gallon does it get?
  13. Why are you selling the car?