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How to Look For Signs of a Bad Used Car

    • 1). Ask to see the owner's manual for the car. This manual will tell you some things about the car. It will tell you the gas tank size, the tire size and some specifics about the engine. It is important to check the tires to make sure they are the right size and not worn.

    • 2). Check the engine. Compare the engine that the manual says is in the car to the actual engine in the car. The year of the engine can be found in the upper-left corner, and some cars have it on the radiator guard. Check the oil with the dipstick. Check the carburetor to see if it is clean. Check the brake fluid and transmission fluids.

    • 3). Start the engine and listen to how it runs. Misses and hissing sounds may be signs of problems. This is where a mechanic or someone experienced with cars will know what to look for and listen to as the car runs. Give the engine a little gas and see what color the exhaust is when it comes out.

    • 4). Check the exterior body. Appearances can be deceiving. Feel in the wheel wells to see if the body has been mudded. Check by the door jams to see if there is any rust around the hinges. Check the trunk, bumper and front grill to make sure everything is tight and secure. Rust can cause a bumper to fall off.

    • 5). Check the underside of the car for rust. Check the exhaust for holes or makeshift moderations to the exhaust. Check the tie rods and the suspension.

    • 6). Check the interior for number of miles and seat conditions, and make sure all the controls are working. Check the headlights, taillights and the blinkers.

    • 7). Compare the title to the VIN number on the car. This is found in the driver-side window in the lower-left corner and underneath on the post of the frame on the driver's side.

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