Used Car Buying Checklist

August 31st, 2018 by

Used Toyota Rav4

If you’re thinking about buying a used car near Chula Vista, there are plenty of options to choose from—but where are the best places to look for a pre-owned vehicle, what questions should you ask, and what should you look for when buying a used car? Find out with this used car buying checklist from the used car experts at Mossy Toyota, serving drivers in La Jolla and Chula Vista.

1. Buy from a Trusted Dealer.

Even an affordable car is a big investment. Sure, you can get a good deal from a private seller or a used car lot, however dealers have a reputation to maintain. Indeed, Mossy Toyota in San Diego has a proven reputation, so whether you’re looking for reliable used cars or service, it’s best to stick with the used car experts.

2. Check for a Clear Title

Buying from a trusted dealer like Mossy Toyota is important, but checking that the title on your preferred vehicle is clear is equally important. A clear title means that the car has not been designated as a total loss and this information must be disclosed by both dealers and private sellers. Financing a car with a branded or salvage title is much more difficult, even if it’s undergone repairs, so always be sure to look at the vehicle history report before continuing with your used car checklist.

3. Take a Test Drive.

Make sure the vehicle is in good working condition for your daily drives around Encinitas by taking it for a test drive. When you take it for a test drive, be on the lookout for:

  • Rattling and odd noises from the engine or transmission
  • Grinding gears
  • Soft or screeching brakes
  • Electronics and HVAC functionality
  • Cosmetic issues

4. Is the Current Mileage Reasonable?

Wondering what to ask when buying a used car? Asking if the vehicle’s mileage is consistent with its year is a critical element to verify. An 8-year-old pickup should have over 20,000 miles on it, yet a 1-year old SUV shouldn’t have more than 50,000 miles on the odometer. A general rule of thumb is if the mileage on the odometer averages out to less than 8,000 miles per year or more than 20,000 miles per year, you should put a red flag next to the mileage section on your used car checklist.

5. Inspect the Fluids

Every fluid running through your car is essential to its performance and should be maintained routinely. Fluids should all be between the full and add marks on their reservoirs or dipsticks. When going through your buying a used car checklist, make sure that:

  • Brake Fluid is lightly golden or clear in the reservoir. Darkness, particles, or a milky color are all symptoms of dirty brake fluid.
  • Coolant is free of any particulate or debris. If there are crusty bits in the coolant, then it’s overdue for a flush. However, if there’s oil in the coolant, the car might be suffering from a head gasket leak.
  • Transmission Fluid is red and clear by checking the dipstick. If the fluid smells burnt or appears milky and dark, it requires further maintenance.
  • Engine Oil is golden brown and smooth to the touch on the dipstick. Gritty or blackened oil are symptoms of neglectful maintenance, whereas milky oil indicates that water has contaminated the fluid.

6. Make Sure the Interior Cabin Smells Good

Depending on your driving frequency and commute around the La Jolla area, you might be spending a lot of time behind the wheel of your vehicle. Therefore, ensuring that the interior cabin is clean, aromatic, and functioning properly is an essential part of any used car checklist.

Take note of any sour, moldy, or musty smells within the interior cabin. Tobacco smoke is infamously difficult to get out of certain upholstery and mildew or mold in a car could mean it’s been water damaged. Inspect the vehicle for any rust in the spare wheel well, underneath the floor mats, or on the seat frames. If there’s any sign of water or rust collecting in these areas you can go ahead and avoid that particular model.

7. What to Ask When Buying a Used Car

You’ll surely want to ask for a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report gives you a thorough understanding of the background of the vehicle you’re looking at, including important information like service history, ownership history, and accident history.

In addition, you’ll want to ask how the owner reached the sale price for the used vehicle. If you’re still unsure, it’s not a bad idea to ask whether the owner can hold onto the vehicle until you make the final decision.

8. Consider a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Vehicle

Thinking about buying used but like the idea of buying new? Consider buying a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle in order to get a used vehicle in like-new condition that includes manufacturer warranties. Check out the CPO Toyotas on sale near Del Mar at Mossy Toyota!

Buy Your Next Used Car Near Carlsbad From Mossy Toyota!

If you’re looking for an impressive selection of used cars near Chula Vista, then you’ll want to choose Mossy Toyota. Here, we have an impressive selection of used cars under 10kpre-owned vehicle specials, and even a lineup of new Toyota models for sale. After you’ve bought your awesome pre-owned vehicle, celebrate by picking up your friends and heading out to one of San Diego’s best escape rooms!

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