Technical Inspection of a Car before Buying: Step by Step Guide

Technical Inspection of a Car before Buying

Step 1. Visual inspection of the appearance of the car

You can evaluate the technical condition of the used car yourself on several points:

LPC, appearance ;


body geometry;

dynamic characteristics (control, braking, acceleration, etc.).

Consider them in more detail, starting with the appearance of the car.


Grab a regular magnet for inspection. It should stick to all parts of the car. If contact is lost somewhere, there is an extra layer of paint.

If there is no magnet, but there is good vision, squat down and look at the side of the car: is the reflection uniform?
Paintwork Check

Assess the overall appearance of the car: the state of the headlights, windows, mirrors, joints of parts. There should not be large chips, fogging, rust.

A separate element of checking the appearance of the car is the condition of the tires. Estimate the wear of the rubber, the tread depth, the degree of wear of the edges, find out the year of production of tires. Make sure that there are no microcracks, cuts, repair marks.

See if the joints and gaps between the doors, the hood, the trunk and the rest of the body are even, whether they are symmetrical or easy to close. If effort is required, see discrepancies, sound the alarm. The crack on the windshield without a visible center, especially horizontal, is also a reason to be wary.

Step 2. Inspection of the passenger compartment
By the condition of the cabin, it is possible to understand how long the machine was used, and whether everything is in order with technical fluids, whether there are leaks. On the seat you should be comfortable, dry under the rug.

An important stage of checking the cabin – the presence of airbags . If you see that the upholstery of the seats or the windshield have changed, the color of the plugs does not match the trim palette – a high probability that the car got into a serious accident at which the pillows worked.


Step 3. Inspection of engine compartments

Inspect the engine. If you see smudges, foreign liquids, deformation of the body or the absence of a plastic cover (on those cars that it should be), the car could get into an accident, as well as partially or completely fail. If the engine, on the contrary, is clean, give up the purchase. With a motor there are problems that the seller is trying to hide.

Inspection under the hood

Start the car or ask the owner to do it. It should start without problems and work smoothly, without extraneous knocks, dips and “gas stations”. If for a diesel engine – the norm, then for gasoline – no.
Battery check

Inspect the battery. Dirt on the contacts will interfere with the work of the contacts, oxidized leads (terminals with bloom) – the operation of the battery as a whole. There should not be cracks, dents on the body – may leak electrolyte.

Effectively check the battery when the car was standing on the street for a long time during the cold season. If it starts up easily, the battery is serviceable, if “with a stretch”, it needs to be changed or to look for the cause of the voltage loss.


Before you check the oil in the manual transmission or automatic transmission, make sure that the car you are interested in has a special dipstick under the hood. The reason for concern is color. If the oil has turned brown or black, it means that it’s time to change or the gearbox parts are worn out.

CPR Evaluation

If you are watching a used car with a variator box, remember: the oil should be clear, without lumps and clots. If it is dark or even black, everything has probably been squeezed out of the box. If there are streaks, the gearbox is also fairly worn.

Oil level should also be normal. There are two marks on the dipstick: for measurement with the engine stopped and running.
Ignition System Evaluation

This is especially important to do if, standing next to a running machine, you hear uneven cylinder operation, claps in the pipe or you see that the engine is overheating, consumption is rising, and black smoke is coming out of the intake manifold.

Instructions with a description of how to properly check , is on the site.

After evaluating the operation of the ignition system, grab the vehicle chassis check.
Step 4. Check the Vehicle Chassis

To increase the cost, the list of suspension elements consists of the following:

ball bearings;

silent blocks;


shock absorbers.
In fact, without resorting to the services of service managers and without driving the car on a lift or inspection pit, you can only see the steering rack, shock absorbers and bearings.

Thus, a serviceable steering rack should not make extraneous sounds and play when turning the steering wheel.

If you see oil leaks on the springs, and when rocking the machine does not stop swinging, it’s time to change the shock absorber. A sign of a heavily worn spring is a subsidence of the machine.

To see if the bearings are working, swing the machine down and up. If it behaves like a pendulum, it’s time to change the bearings.
Step 5. Connecting the equipment

After a visual assessment of the car of interest, grab the equipment. Let’s talk about what can be checked with it.


Starting a test using the equipment is also better from the car body, the external component. The most advanced take a thickness gauge to inspect the machine – the device will help to estimate the thickness of paint without any extra effort. Just attach the device to the body and watch the numbers on the screen. It is important to understand what value is within the normal range for the machine you are watching. Find out the latest information from familiar car owners or on the forums.

After evaluating the paintwork, open the hood and take the multimeter. First of all, you can evaluate the operation of the generator. This element produces current in the car and feeds the battery. If it is faulty, you risk “getting up” on the road at the most inopportune moment. The normal voltage when the motor is shut off is about 12.5 volts when the engine is running, from 13.8 to 14.8 volts. Turn on the light, heating, air conditioning – the voltage should “fall” to 13.5 – 14 Volts.

To test the battery, you also need a multimeter. Normal voltage numbers are the same as when evaluating generator operation.

A multimeter is also required to test the battery.


Many sensors important for the smooth operation of the car also need to be checked with an ohmmeter or multimeter, as well as a simple set of tools, such as a screwdriver, a wrench.

Be sure to check the operation of the temperature sensor, if the engine often overheats, fuel consumption is increased, and as the temperature rises in the elements of the motor, the car loses control.

If you feel sharp jumps, when revs grow or when the engine is idling, the engine is not running smoothly, it’s time to check the operation of the throttle sensor.

Step 6. Test Drive

The step-by-step instruction on technical verification of a car is not complete without testing the car in real conditions. Be sure to drive the car yourself. If the seller does not let go behind the wheel, well, let him test the car himself.


Ask the owner of the car to turn around several times, slow down, accelerate, and drive, for example, on a speed bump. Watch the actions of the owner of the car – he will not worry about the safety of the car, and you will get answers to questions.

Pay close attention to testing the car steering.

Close the windows, turn off the music and listen to the sounds that the car makes when driving. Drive the alarm if:

when turning the wheels and the pump is working, there is extraneous noise, a crunch, a clank, etc .;

knocking rake;

the wheel turns with effort or, on the contrary, too easily, vibrates on turns, and also lyuftit or sticks;

when driving straight, the car leads left or right.

Step 7. Professional car inspection

Alas, self-checking of a used car does not give a 100% guarantee that instead of a reliable iron horse you won’t slip a cat in a bag. We recommend to visit the car service together with the seller of the car, but be prepared to independently pay for the manipulations.

There are 2 types of inspections with specialists: stationary (in the service station) and exit.

Normal, stationary, assumes that you come to the service station and give the car into the hands of CarZaamin. They do everything the same as you do when you are self-checking, only more carefully. Masters will fix the problems found on the same day or at least help to order spare parts.

Also in many services today there are modern scanners and programs that allow you to find electronic errors. Most of the cars with mileage stuffed with a variety of electronics. The failure of one system will pull another behind you, and you may lose the vehicle for a long time.

But checking in the service station has a few drawbacks. For example, do not visit the car-care center advised by the owner of the car – he may have a preliminary agreement with the masters. Also be prepared for the fact that the test will take a lot of time – 1-4 hours.

Field check

Exit check has more advantages. You can completely withdraw from the inspection of the machine, but at the same time you will be sure that the car will be studied far and wide. The “outside” expert will be interested only in ensuring that the machine you choose is safe and technically sound.

Evan Murray

Hey, I'm Evan Murray from San Antonio City, I'm a pharmacist and affiliate marketing enthusiast. I have a huge passion for food, hate to stay in comfort zone.

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