How To Buy A Second Hand Car? Used Car Buying Checklist

Apr 5, 2023 6 min read
How To Buy A Second Hand Car? Used Car Buying Checklist

Buying a second hand car can be a great way to save money, but it can also be daunting. With so many options available in the market, knowing where to start and what to look for can be challenging. Moreover, purchasing a used car involves risks and uncertainties you may not encounter when buying a new car.

To help you navigate the process successfully, this article will provide practical tips and advice on buying a used car. Following these guidelines, you can find a reliable and affordable used car that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Exterior Inspection

Inspecting the vehicle's exterior thoroughly is essential when buying a second hand car. The car's exterior condition can give you an idea of how well the previous owner maintained the vehicle and how much wear and tear it has endured. Here are some key things to look for when inspecting the exterior of a used car:

Check for rust and corrosion: Look for rust spots and corrosion on the car's body and underneath the vehicle. Rust can spread quickly and compromise the car's structural integrity, so it's essential to catch it early.

Accidental History: A used car has gone through a lot of wear and tear, and potentially some minor or major accidents. While minor accident signs include scratches, scrapes, and small dents, major accident signs include unusual gaps between body panels, bumper damage, repainted spots, and damaged underbody (such as a bent chassis)

Check the tires: Inspect the tires for wear and tear, including the tread depth, and look for any bulges or cracks. Additionally, alignment or suspension issues can be spotted through uneven tire wear.

Check the lights: Another vital part of ensuring that a used car in top condition is to check the lights. Generally, the degree of clouding on headlamps signifies the car's age. Ensure other light components including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, are working correctly.

Other than this, you should also look out for any cracks or marks on the windows or mirrors and inspect if there has been any water damage, like stains or mold, which indicates flood damage. While doing this, check for the car's overall condition and look for any signs for wear and tear.

Interior Inspection

In addition to inspecting the exterior of a used car, it's crucial to check the interior thoroughly. The car's interior condition can provide insight into how well the previous owner cared for the vehicle and the level of wear and tear it has experienced. Here are some key things to look for when inspecting the interior of a used car:

Check the seats: Inspect the seats for wear and tear, including rips, tears, and stains. Ensure that they're comfortable and adjustable

Check the dashboard: Look for any warning lights that may be illuminated on the dashboard, indicating potential problems with the car.

Test the electronics: Check if the AC cools the cabin effectively and ensure that there is no foul smell coming from the ducts. Double check the power of the horn, the wipers and the wiper wash spray. Also ensure that there are no warning lights illuminated in the MID. The rest should include the usual electronics in the form of a touchscreen unit/stereo system, interior lights, and automatic AC controls as well.  

Check the interior trim: Look for signs of wear and tear on the interior trim, including scratches, scuffs, and fading.

Smell for odors: Check for any unusual smells inside the car, as they can indicate potential problems, such as mold or mildew.

By performing a thorough interior inspection, you can identify any potential issues with the car and determine whether it's worth it to buy used car. If you notice any significant problems, having a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle before making a purchase decision is advised.

Engine Inspection

The engine is the heart of a car and examining its condition is vital. Engine health significantly impacts the performance, mileage and is an indicator of long term reliability, so paying close attention is important.

Here are some key things to look for when inspecting the engine of a used car:

Check the oil level and condition: The oil level of the engine plays a vital role in proper functioning of the engine. Ensure the oil dipstick is at optimal level and check the oil level and its condition. If the oil is dirty or low, it may indicate a lack of maintenance.

Dirt & Grease Levels: Check for the dirt, rust and grease level of the engine bay, as these often lead to major problems down the line of your ownership experience.

Look for signs of leaks: Inspect the engine for any indications of leaks, such as those in the oil, coolant, or transmission fluid. Leaks may be a sign of more serious problems that need costly repairs.

Inspect the belts and hoses: Examine the belts and hoses for any wear or cracks that might be present. These vital components of the car’s powertrain should be checked by a mechanic if the need arises.

Check the battery: Ensure the battery is secure and the terminals are clean and corrosion-free. Also ask the owner the time durations the battery was changed at, as in older cars, the battery needs to be replaced every 3 years or so.

Listen for unusual engine noises: Start the engine and listen for any unusual noises, such as knocking, rattling, or grinding, which could be signs of an issue with the engine.

Test Drive

Taking a used car for a test drive is a critical step in the buying process. It's the only time you can interact with the car and test how driving feels. While inspecting the exterior, interior, and engine bay can provide valuable information, a test drive allows you to evaluate the car's overall performance and handling and whether the second hand car price is right!

During the test drive, paying attention to the car's acceleration, braking, steering, and suspension is essential. Drive it on city roads and highways to check suspension, power output, gearshifts and braking power. If you're buying a family car, take your family with you for the test drive to get a feel of the space inside. These factors can significantly impact the car's safety and handling, so it's crucial to ensure they function properly.

Check Documents

In India, purchasing a used car requires a few legal steps to ensure a safe and lawful transaction.


The primary document that you should verify is the car's registration certificate or RC. The RC is issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO), confirming the car's ownership and registration status.

Ensuring that the RC is valid and matches the car's details, such as the make, model, and engine number is essential. You should also verify that the RC lists the seller as the car's registered owner.


In addition to the RC, you should also check the car's insurance policy. Under Indian law, all cars must have valid insurance coverage before they can be driven on public roads. You can ask the seller to provide proof of insurance, such as a policy document or insurance certificate while buying a used car online.


Another document that you should verify is the car's pollution under control (PUC) certificate. This certificate confirms that the car's emissions are within acceptable limits and meets environmental standards. The PUC certificate is valid for a limited period, and you should ensure that it's up-to-date.


It's also crucial to check for any outstanding loans or liens on the car. Under Indian law, the lender has a legal right to claim the car if the loan is not repaid. You can obtain a vehicle history report or contact the RTO to check for any outstanding loans or liens before you buy a used car online.


Buying a second hand car can be an intimidating task, but with the right tools, one can get any job done. Thus, if you want to take the stress out of buying a used car, Spinny is the go-to choice. Spinny Assured® is a trusted way to ensure that car ownership is delightful, accessible, and simple.

It offers a 200-point inspection program which ensures every car they sell meets a strict quality standard, a one-year warranty that covers any unforeseen mechanical faults, a five-day no questions asked money-back guarantee if you change your mind, and a buyback program provides an assured resale value when you buy a car. Moreover, the Fixed Price Assurance ensures that you get the best deal upfront without any hidden charges and detailed inspection reports, leaving the hassle of negotiations. In fact, only one out of every 20 cars inspected makes it to its car hubs, making it a 5% acceptance rate, lower than Yale University!

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