Buying a high-mileage used car presents a number of unknowns: Has it been in an accident? How was it used for the last 100,000 miles? Was maintenance performed? Is it a good deal? These questions are best answered by finding the right car as well as the right seller, and Cars.com has resources to help you do that. Below, you’ll find advice to prepare you for shopping for a high-mileage used car and a handy list of factors to consider.
Related: More Used-Car Advice
How to Inspect a Used Car
Used cars are more popular than ever, and they’re also as durable and maintenance-free as ever thanks to engineering strides. There’s a ton of value in the used-car market, but there’s still much to be mindful of when buying a car someone else has driven and maintained for tens of thousands of miles. With the tips provided in How to Inspect a Used Car, we give you the skinny on what to look out for, like tire wear, to ensure a used car is in good condition.
Is a Used Car a Good Idea?
You might be solely focused on the condition of the car, but the seller also should be vetted. It’s in your best interest to get an early read on the seller to determine why they’re selling the car and potentially avoid buying someone else’s problems. Is a Used Car a Good Idea? we detail the questions you should be asking the seller.
In any situation, this used-car-buyer’s checklist is a cheat sheet on what you should consider while shopping for a used car.
The Ultimate Checklist
- Decide which make and model you want.
- Research the asking price.
- Find out how much it would cost to finance the vehicle.
- Find out how much it would cost to insure the vehicle.
- Research the prospective vehicle history using online and printed resources.
- Interview prospective sellers before meeting them in person.
- Set a daytime appointment.
- Before starting the test drive, check the undercarriage, engine, and body for rust or damage.
- Check the interior for cleanliness; measure its comfort and size.
- Inspect the tires for wear.
- Check the oil for the proper level and color.
- Check the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion.
- Drive on the highway to gauge acceleration and handling.
- Test the brakes.
- Test the steering and alignment.
- Practice parking for maneuverability and sight lines.
- After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors or smoke.
- Request and review the service records, receipts, and title.
- Have a mechanic inspect the car you’re thinking of buying.