Buyer's Guide

Questions to ask the owner:

  1. Is the engine original, if so was it ever rebuilt. If it isn't the original, then what happened to the original, and how many miles are on this engine?
  2. Was the timing belt ever broken, if not, then when was the last time it was changed. If it did break, then how much damage was there?
  3. Do you have any service records? How about receipts?
  4. Have you had any repairs/work done to the car, if so, then what? Did you do the work yourself, or did you have it done elsewhere. If you had the work done elsewhere, where did you have it done?
  5. How often do you change the fluids. What fluids have you changed? How often was the oil changed?
  6. Has the odometer stopped working? Has it been replaced?
  7. Did you garage the car? How often would you say you cleaned/waxed the car? Did you use it during the winter months?
  8. Have you done any modifications to the car? Do you know of any that have been done prior to your purchase?
  9. How long have you owned your car? Are you the original owner, if not, then what number owner are you? Why are you selling? How long has the car been for sale?
  10. Has this car been in a accident?
  11. Has your car been repainted?
  12. What is wrong with the car? Does the interior ever get wet when it rains?
  13. Do you own the car outright, or is there still money owed on it? Is the title in the sellers name and do they have it handy?
  14. Is it a problem if I have my mechanic look over the car?
  15. Is the registration current?
  16. Has the car ever failed inspection? If so, then for what? Was said problem fixed?

Interior Inspection:

  1. Check the power door locks, windows, and sunroof work.
  2. Check to see if the interior carpet is wet.
  3. Check if there any cracks in the dashboard.
  4. Check to see if the headliner is intact.
  5. Check for stains in the carpet.
  6. Take note of whether the seats fully function - do they recline, do the move back and forth? What's the condition of the seats? Check to see if the seatbelts work and see if they are anchored properly.
  7. Check to see if the horn works.
  8. Check to see id the trunk carpet is wet.

Exterior Inspection:

  1. Check out the wheels. Do they look bent? Do they have any curb rash? Do they have all their wheel caps?
  2. Check out the condition of the tires. Does the rubber look good. Do they look properly inflated? Are there any bulges/bubbles? How much tread is left?
  3. Check to see if all the driving lights work, including high beams, fog lights, and blinkers.
  4. Check the glass around the car. Do the windows look like the go up all the way? Are there any cracks/chips in the windshield?
  5. Check out the lenses on the taillights, headlights, fog lights, and side markers for cracks.
  6. Get under the car and take a look at the brake lines.
  7. Check out the suspension and bushing components.
  8. Check under the engine for oil leaks.
  9. Check to make sure all the VIN numbers match. There is one on each of the front fenders, one in the door, and another on the dashboard.
  10. Check for bent floorpans and jacking points.
  11. Check the following places for rust:
  • fenders
  • license plate light area
  • lift points
  • rocker panels
  • four corners of the floorboard
  • lower parts of the doors
  • under the battery in the trunk
  • behind the rear wheel wells
  • sunroof
  • fuel tank
  • fuel door
  • strut towers
  • the seal around the front and rear winshield
  • rear cross-member
  • brake calipers
  • taillights

Test Drive:

  1. When you start the engine, notice if any lights stay lit on the instrument panel? Also press the check button on the overhead check panel to see if anything stays lit.
  2. Check to see if you hear any belt noises. Notice if they go away once the engine warms up
  3. Do you notice any noise when you turn the steering wheel?
  4. How does the engine run? Is it smooth? Is there any blue smoke coming from the exhaust? Do it buck or hesitate?
  5. Check to see if the brakes are mushy. Does the car vibrate when you apply the brakes at slow speeds?
  6. Check to see if the clutch engages properly. Is it hard to shift into gear? Does the shift lever feel loose. Is there a smooth transition from gear to gear. Do you hear any unusual noises coming from the tranny?
  7. Check to see if the A/C and heater work. Does the fan operate on all 4 settings?
  8. If you can, check to see if the rear window defroster works? Does the front windshield fog up when the heater is on?
  9. Check the engine teperature. Is it reading normal?
  10. Check the windshield wipers work? How about the washer fluid?
  11. When you are done with your test drive, put the car in neutral(or park) and pull up on the ebrake. Open the hood and see if the engine is smoking. How does everything sound? Do you hear any hissing or ticking?

Note: I suggest you don't do the following:

  • Look at the car in the dark.
  • Look at the car in the rain.
  • Check out the car right after someone else drove it.

Buyer's Guide from

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