Buying a used car? Here's your checklist

Buying a used car is a major dilemma since the buyer doesn't have any idea on how the car has been maintained and other such aspects. But one doesn't need to be an expert in spotting some basic signs of degradation before finalising your decision

Used car buying tips

Electrical components

Check how the AC functions when climbing a slope and how much time it takes to cool the vehicle's interior.

Engine oil cap

Open the engine oil cap and look inside for oil sludge the thick black build-up on internal parts.


Check for acid wear and tear around the battery as this indicates that the car has not been maintained properly.


After the test drive, park the car on a clean surface for at least 30 minutes. Check that there are no oil leaks from the engine or gearbox.

Checking the engine is of utmost priority


The engine should purr and not make any spluttering or knocking noises, especially while changing gears.


Apply brakes at the speed of 30-50 km to check that the car stops in a straight line. Take the car on a slope and apply the handbrake to ensure that it's working properly.


Look for wear and tear as well as the alignment. If tyres are not in a good condition, there is a chance of bargaining for up to Rs 1,000.


Emission of blue smoke when you start the car may indicate engine problems. Black smoke means the engine consumes too much fuel, which could be due to a problem with the fuel injection.


A vibrating steering means front-end trouble.

Check whether the odometer has been tampered with


Check the reading and calculate the average after taking into account the year of manufacture. A 3-5 year old car that has travelled 14,000 km to 18,000 km a year is a good buy.


Any deviation in the paint work of the body of the car indicates that it had been in an accident and had required repair work.

Documents to check

Registration papers: Check if the engine number and chassis number etched on the vehicle match those in the registration papers.

Insurance papers: This is a must for when you transfer the car in your name at the RTO.

NOC (no-objection certificate): An NOC is issued by the finance company when the car loan has been paid off completely. It states that the lender has no claim on the car anymore.


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