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USED CAR PURCHASE CHECKLIST
A Practical Guide to Assist Novice and Automotive Technicians
 
 

Used Car Buying Checklist CORVETTE

 

INTRODUCTION

Buying a good used car may be a relatively simple task when you have the necessary cash or credit on hand; however, the difficulty comes when the buyer must examine the automobile to determine its condition. The checklist is designed to help you select a dependable automobile using no tools, specific skills, or mechanical ability. It will help you make checks that are often overlooked during purchase - enabling you to bargain more effectively with the seller.

The checklist requires that you make a simple yes or no¯ response to questions about various automotive components or accessories. The checklist will also require visual observations and a road test. Although no mechanical ability is needed to complete this checklist, some prior knowledge about a few items on this checklist would be helpful for accuracy and safety.

Remember, if you want the best buy - spend the necessary time to examine the automobile thoroughly. You will save in the long run.

How to Use This Checklist

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1.  Do not pay the seller one dime until you have thoroughly examined the automobile. The law gives you the right to test drive the automobile and check it carefully before purchase.

2.  Take the checklist with you when examining the automobile. The excitement over the purchase of an automobile and a pushy salesperson can cause you to quickly lose site of the necessary checks to be performed.

3.  Mark your checklist carefully and report all defects or malfunctions to the seller. Items on the checklist found to be defective provides for excellent bargaining.

4.  Seek the assistance of a skilled automotive technician if you feel uncomfortable examining the automobile. An experience technician can recognize noises and sounds that may not be detected by the buyer.

5.  Be sure that the price of the automobile do not exceed book value. See N.A.D.A. website at http://www.nadaguides.com/

6.  Test-drive the vehicle to check such components as the engine, transmission, brakes, alignment, and suspension system. While test driving watch for signs of starting problems, hesitation, tapping or knocking from the engine, smoke from the tail pipe, slipping or incorrect shift of the transmission, steering wheel shaking, and pulling to one side while driving or braking.

7.  Check the glove box for service records and repair orders. These provide valuable information on the care of the automobile before purchase.

8.  Make certain that you understand all conditions of the sale before signing any papers. Also make certain that the seller has made all needed repairs before purchase.

9.  Be thoroughly convinced that you have selected an automobile that meets our needs, is dependable, and has been purchased at a reasonable price.

10. Please remember: a good car will sell itself, it does not need any help from a pressuring salesperson.¯

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A.  BODY/EXTERIOR Yes No

1. Is the body free of dents, rust, and paint fade?____   ____

Check for rusting around doors, fenders, rearquarter panel, windows, and trim molding.

2. Does all doors open and close properly? ____   ____

With door open-lift upward on the door to check for 
 excessive looseness in the hinges. Check the weather- 
 stripping around doors and windows.

3. Will the hood and trunk lid open and close properly?________

4. Are all pieces of the chrome and side molding in place?  ____   ____

5. Will the key open all doors from the outside? ____   ____

6. Are cracks in the glasses? ____   ____

Check the windshield, rear view mirror, sunroof tops, 
 side and rear windows.

Defective Items:

B. CHASSIS/INTERIOR Yes     No

1. Are the seats carpeting, and vinyl in good condition? ____   ____

2. Are noticeable water leaks visible from the car's interior? ____    ____

Check for faded or worn carpet in certain spots. This 
is sure evidence of a water leak. If the seller permits, 
hose the automobile down with water and check for leaks.

3. Has a maintenance record been kept on the automobile?  ____   ____

4. Is a spare tire and jack in the trunk of the automobile?____   ____

Defective Items

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C. ACCESSORIES Yes   No

1. Does the headlamps work on both high and low beam?   ____   ____

2. Does the turn signals blink on both sides? ____   ____

3. Will the horn blow? ____   ____

4. Does all gauges on the instrument panel work? ____   ____

Check for movement on the temperature gauge, oil 
pressure gauge, and the ammeter when the automobile is 
started. If the automobile has idiot lights,¯ they 
should come on when the ignition is in the on¯ position 
and go off as soon as the engine is started. Should any of 
these lights stay on, it means trouble.

5. Does the clock work? ____   ____

6. Will the cigarette lighter work? ____   ____

7. Does the air conditioner and heater work properly?       ____   ____

Check for proper operation of the temperature controls,
blower speed in all positions, defrost
and other air 
divert positions.

8. Will the radio work? ____   ____

9. Does other electrical components work?

These include: cruise control, seats, locks, rear 
 window defroster, antenna, windshield wipers, and etc. ____   ____

10. Does the brake lamps work? ____   ____

Defective Items:

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D. TIRES, BRAKES, AND SUSPENSION Yes     No

1. Are the tire treads wearing evenly and in good condition?____   ____

Tire tread depth should not be less than 1/16th in. for 
safety. Uneven tread wear indicates improper wheel 
alignment and/or suspension problems.

2. Does the car appear to have weak and sagging springs?____   ____

3. Are the shock absorbers holding firmly? ____   ____

4. Can a shaking be felt in the steering wheel while driving?____   ____

5. Does the brake pedal go to the floor or have to be pumped 
 to stop the automobile? ____   ____

6. Does the automobile pull to one side while driving or 
 braking? ____   ____

7. Is there an excessive amount of slack in the steering 
wheel or in the steering column? ____    ____

Defective Items

- - - -  - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

E. ENGINE Yes    No

1. Are noticeable leaks on the underside of the automobile? ____    ____

2. Does the engine produce a tapping or knocking noise? ____    ____

A continued tapping noise or a definite knock in the 
engine indicates engine trouble. Seek the advise of a 
skilled technician should you decide to make a purchase.   ____    ____

3. Are there signs of smoking at the tailpipe? ____    ____

4. Can oil deposit be found in the air breather? ____    ____

With the engine stopped, take the top off the air 
breather. If an accumulation of oil is found-the cause 
is either a clogged PCV valve or excessive leakage of 
the piston rings. Consult a skilled technician.

5. Does the engine hesitate when accelerated? ____    ____

6. Is the oil milky-gray in color? ____   ____

With the engine stopped, remove the oil dip stick and 
check the color of the engine oil. A milky-gray color 
indicates the presence of water in the oil-possibly 
caused by damage to the engine.

7. Does the engine starts easily either hot or cold? ____  ____

8. Does the exhaust system sounds to be in good condition? ____  ____

9. Does the emission control system show evidence of 
 tampering? ____   ____

Checked for plugged vacuum hoses, catalytic converter 
 and air pump missing, restrictor in the fuel tank 
 missing.

10. Does the engine run smoothly without excessive vibration? ____    ____

Defective Items:

- - - -  - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

F. TRANSMISSION Yes  No

1. Does then transmission shift smoothly? ____    ____

2. Can any slipping be felt in the transmission? ____    ____

3. Are there fluid leaks from the transmission? ____    ____

4. Does the transmission slips out-of-gear (standards only)? ____    ____

5. Will the passing gear engage when the accelerator is 
pressed all the way to the floor (automatics only)? ____    ____

6. Does the speedometer work and is there a considerable 
number of miles on the odometer? Record Milage ____   ____

7. Can queaks and rattles be heard from the automobile?____   ____

Defective Items:

- - - -  - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BEST PRE-OWNED CAR BUYING TIPS:

When shopping for a pre-owned car, arrive early in the morning before the car is started. This will give sure evidence if the engine has mechanical damage. Start the engine while it is cold and listen for tapping or knocking noises from the engine. If so, this is a sign of excessive wear or mechanical problems.

Does the engine stall after it is started?

The oil light should go out quickly after the car is started. Does this occur? If not, you may have excessive wear or damage to the engine. Let a qualified technician guide you on engine related problems.

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List Total Price of Automobile: $_______________________________

Anticipated Cost of Repairs:$_________________________________

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