Checklist: Inspecting a Secondhand Car

Checklist: Inspecting a Secondhand Car

A secondhand car is a worthwhile purchase–that is, if you did your homework and made sure you know what it takes for a car to be worth your money. Many make the mistake of not inspecting a secondhand car thoroughly enough that they end up spending more year after year for repairs. Or worse, they’ve parted ways with their money only to find out that the car barely functions for more than a few miles. To avoid these types of situations, we highly suggest bringing a checklist on the day you inspect the car you’re interested in.

A simple Google search would yield to several secondhand car inspection checklists. It’s always better to bring a professional mechanic with you or bring it to an automotive service center. But just to give you an idea, we’re here to give you a quick run-through of some of the most important points, especially if this is your first time.

First things first: Research on the car

The importance of researching cannot be stressed enough. Before anything, always make sure that you’ve familiarized yourself with the model that you plan to buy. There are lots of online communities that discuss possible problems and other well-known trouble spots.

Here are things you should take note of:

    • Model, brand, and year
    • Price range
    • Well-known trouble spots
    • Mileage

Check for vehicle documents

Never forget to check for the car’s documents so you don’t run into legal problems in the future. This will ensure that the car is not stolen, and you have the real deal. Check for the following:

    • The seller is registered as the owner
      (ask for the original copy of the original receipt of registration and certificate of Vehicle Registration – OR/CR from LTO)
    • Registration document number of vehicle is the same as vehicle registration certificate
    • Original LTO plate number
    • If the car is fairly new, check if the seller has fully paid for the car. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof like the Release of Chattel Mortgage that will come from the bank.
    • Service receipts

Inspect the vehicle body

It’s always best to check out all aspects of the car’s body and make sure it’s up to your standards.

    • Examine the tires and see if there are noticeable damages
    • Check if the size of the tires are the same with that in the registration
    • The doors, windows, and locks are working properly
    • No signs of accidents

Check what’s underneath

You may also want to check the situation from under the car.

    • Make sure that there are no leaks or drips, and there are no signs of rust.
    • The buffers are clean and not oily

The engine compartment

To make sure the car runs smoothly, here are a number of things to check out in the engine compartment.

    • Engine is dry and not oily
    • Tubes, cables, battery in good condition
    • Battery not any older than 3 years, no rust on the poles

The test drive

It’s time to test the waters! You’ll know the car is meant for you only when you’ve personally given it a spin. If something feels off, it’s good to consult a car mechanic that you trust.

Taking these precautions could save you money or even your life. While it may be wise to purchase a secondhand car, do keep in mind that there are risks you may be taking so it’s better to minimize them.

Don’t be shy to back out if there are major or minor issues. It’s your money, after all! These are just a few reminders on what to inspect so you get your money’s worth and end up winning together with the car seller.

And as a general rule: if a deal is too good to be true, then it probably is!

For more tips on your next win-win exchange, visit on how to have a safe and secure transaction!

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