How to Evaluate a Used Car

Last Updated : October 04 2017

How to Evaluate a Used Car

by Hector Lambert 2017 October 04

How to Evaluate a Used Car?

Buying a used car is a financially wise decision. You save money on depreciation costs, dealer fees and taxes, but you also open yourself up to possible risks.

No consumer wants to buy a dud or lemon vehicle, but there are ways you can protect yourself. To learn how to really evaluate a used car, keep reading for these 6 great car hunting tips.

1. Check the Book Value

Using either the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA Guide and their respective websites, you can check the book value of a car based on its age, model, make, mileage, condition of the vehicle and the region where you can find the vehicle.

While the book value of a vehicle isn't a cut and dry rule, it can give you a good estimation of how much a vehicle is actually worth.

2. Compare the Car to Similar Models

Before you purchase a used car, browse the classified ads, either online or offline, to get an idea of how much similar cars are going for. Look at model, year number and, of course, mileage.

Most large dealerships have a section of used cars for sale on their lot, and most have a reasonable amount of mileage. The great thing about buying from a dealership is that they usually care about customer satisfaction and want customers to keep coming and refer others to them. Some vehicles may come with a limited warranty, but the dealership may offer extended warranty options as well. Many dealerships will also providing financing on site.This exercise will help you gain a broader understanding of your local marketplace and make you a more informed consumer.

3. Have the Vehicle Inspected

Unless you're purchasing a used vehicle that comes with a used car warranty directly from the manufacturer, you should always have a vehicle thoroughly inspected by a third-party, certified mechanic. A mechanic's independent assessment of the car's value will give you great insight into your evaluation of the vehicle and its worth.

4. Check the Interior

check the interior of the car to ensure that the car is in good condition. The good conditions of the interior parts of the car is an good indicator that the car is well maintained. Don't pay more for a vehicle that's littered with stains, cigarette burns and torn upholstery remnants.

5. Order a Vehicle History Report

Services let you acquire a total vehicle history report on a car that will tell you its sell dates, past odometer readings, and whether the car has been reported as salvaged, wrecked or involved in a flood.

6. Test Drive the Vehicle

One of the best ways to evaluate a car is to actually drive it. You will not only get a feel for how the car handles, but you can keep your eyes and ears open for how well the controls function, any strange sounds, exhaust problems or issues with the brakes.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a used vehicle, you may be wondering about how the value of pre-owned cars is determined. It is easy to figure out what sorts of characteristics add to the value of a used car - low mileage, strong engine, straight body among others. When you are in the process of figuring out how much should be charged or paid for any given used car, you are likely to face a lot of challenges. Because the value of two seemingly similar used vehicles can vary greatly in age, condition, options and more, used vehicles must be valued on an individual basis.This exercise will help you gain a broader understanding of your local marketplace and make you a more informed consumer.


Hector Lambert
#1 Hector LambertAuthor 18 March, 2014, 12:37 Hector lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and four children. He is a car enthusiast and spend his free time on anything that is about vehicles.