Things to remember when purchasing an automobile:
The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission offers this step-by-step
guide to follow when shopping for a used car.
When shopping for a used car, it's important to get the
best car for your money. How do you find out if the car is in good condition?
The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission recommends that consumers take
the car to a reputable mechanic for a thorough inspection. Check the car
yourself first to eliminate the cars with obvious problems.
- Decide what you can afford before you start shopping.
- Narrow your search to the type of vehicle that meets
- Shop around for financing before you choose a car.
Ask about the financing terms; the number of months, down payment, interest
rates, finance charge.
- Inspect for wear. Tires worn in one spot may need balancing,
alignment or have improper air pressure. Another reason could be a bent
frame or weak shocks.
- Hold each tire firmly and shake. Any play may or clunking
may indicate a wheel bearing or a suspension joint in need of repair.
- Press down hard on the corners of the front and rear
fenders. The car should spring up and settle quickly. To much bounce
is an indication that the car needs new shocks.
- Look at the car during the day. Look for paint differences,
crumples in the metal or rough finish.
- Look around edges of the trunk area, inside doors and
under the hood for paint overspray. If the car has been repainted, it
DOES NOT MEAN it has been in an accident.
- Open and close doors, trunk and hood several times
to see if they close tightly and without hitting any other part of the
- Look under the car at the frame area to see if any
part has been welded or bent.
- Place your foot on the pedal and hold. If it sinks
to the floor, the car is unsafe to drive.
Work All Controls.
- air conditioner
- parking brake
- hood release
- Move head restraints and buckle safety belts several
times to make sure these devices are working. They do save lives.
Use the following checklist (circle your answer): Yes No Start Engine
Noises (knocks, grinding, hissing) Rough Idle Yes No While Driving Does
the engine stall? Engine runs rough Blue smoke out of tailpipe Knocking
Power loss Does the temperature gauge read hotter than normal? Yes No
Brakes Pedal sinks to floor Pulsations in brake pedal Grinding Yes No
Transmission Clunks/bucking Shifts choppy Clutch slips Yes No When Returning
From Drive Does engine diesel when shut off? Is it hard to re-start?
Look under the hood of the car - are there any fluid leaks?
TOO MANY YES's?
Don't buy the car.
Make sure the car passes an emissions test in counties where required.
Make sure all the needed repairs are written on the purchase contract
before you sign.
A simple step-by-step guide to follow when shopping for a used car.