___ Are seams where doors and fenders meet even and straight?
___ Are seams where the hood and trunk meet the fenders even and straight?
___ Does a magnet cling to all steel body panels?
___ Are all body panels EXACTLY the same color?
___ Has the car been repainted?
___ Do all tires have the same amount of tread?
___ Are all tires the same size?
___ Are all tires the same brand?
___ Is there a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench? If the vehicle has locking hubcaps, is there a key for removing them?
___ Is the spare tire inflated
___ Does the vehicle sit level?
___ Bounce each corner of the vehicle. Do all corners respond the same? (Corners should only bounce once or twice before stopping.)
___ Do you hear a creaking noise when bouncing the vehicle’s corners?
___ Examine inside trunk, wheel wells, and under hood.
___ Look underneath each side of the vehicle for a row of holes in the frame just inside the vehicle’s outer edge. Do holes appear scratched or recently
cleaned? (If so, I suspect the frame has been straightened after a crash.)
Gas Cap and Filler Neck
___ Is there a gas cap? Does it fit correctly? (If the cap locks, is there a key?)
___ Remove the gas cap and check inside the filler neck. Is there a fuel-nozzle restrictor to prevent adding leaded fuel? (Most states require them.)
___ Is upholstery in good condition? (Look for tears, stains, and burns.)
___ Are the dashboard and headliner in good condition? (Look for tears, stains, and burns)
___ Do seats adjust easily?
___ Are any window cranks, door locks, handles, dash controls or similar items missing?
___ Do all interior lights and dash bulbs work?
___ Does carpet condition match the age of the vehicle?
___ Does carpeting smell of mildew or stale water, suggesting moisture underneath (or worse, flood damage)?
___ Check under the dash at the top of the carpet. Are there stains suggesting heater core or air conditioner leakage?
___ Do all accessories, such as the heater, air conditioner, audio system, and alarm system, operate fully? Test all functions of each.
___ Are there signs of oil or fluid leaks?
___ Run the engine at full operating temperature. Are there abnormal smells that might be due to leaking fluids on hot engine parts?
___ Are there unusual noises, such as clattering or metallic sounds, or sharp hissing, in the engine compartment when the engine is running? (Normal
sound is smooth whirring of belts and fan.)
___ Does anything appear to be missing? (Look for shiny or clean areas where parts may have been removed.)
Under the Vehicle
___ Are there fluid leaks on the underside of the engine and transmission, at axle ends, at brake line connections, or on the ground beneath the
vehicle? Green fluid is usually antifreeze; reddish fluid is usually power steering or transmission fluid; dark brown or black fluid is usually oil or
___ Are any parts loose, with the exception of exhaust parts slung from flexible rubber “donuts”?
___ Does anything appear missing, such as bolts, clamps, brackets or cables?
___ Are exhaust system parts rusty?
___ Are there marks from scrapes, indicating the car has bottomed out on rocks or pavement?
___ Examine exhaust when the car is operating at normal temperature. Do you see white or blue smoke? (Both can indicate an engine problem,
especially if the smoke burns your eyes. A small amount of steam is normal, especially in cold weather.)
___ Does the engine start easily?
___ Does the engine stall at any time?
___ Does the engine idle smoothly?
___ Does the idle speed seem too slow or fast?
___ Does the engine hesitate or stumble on acceleration?
___ Does the engine run smoothly during operation?
___ Does the engine seem to lack power?
___ If the vehicle has cruise control, do all features work correctly?
___ Do engine or other system warning lights appear?
___ Does the engine diesel (continue running) when shut off?
Transmission and Clutch
___ Is Automatic shifting smooth?
___ On a manual-shift vehicle, is take-off smooth, without grabbing or jerking?
___ On a manual-shift vehicle, accelerate hard in a higher gear (third or fourth) or while going uphill. If engine rpms rise without a corresponding
increase in vehicle speed, the clutch could be slipping. It may need to be adjusted or replaced.
___ On a manual-shift vehicle, try shifting to a lower gear when going slowly. Does the transmission shift easily, without grinding?
___ Engage 4-wheel drive only on soft surfaces unless the owner’s manual specifically says the feature can be used on hard-surfaced roads. On a
suitable surface, test-drive the vehicle in forward and reverse with 4-wheel drive engaged. Does the vehicle shift smoothly in both directions?
___ Turn tight corners to the right and left. Are there clunking sounds or other noises?
___ Do the wheels bind or pull, whether turning or going straight?
___ Apply the brakes several times at different speeds. Also try a sudden stop. Does the vehicle pull to one side when brakes are applied?
___ Do brakes stop the vehicle adequately?
___ If the vehicle has antilock brakes (ABS), try stopping suddenly. Do wheels lock? (A pulsing brake pedal is normal.)
___ Does the parking brake hold firmly and release completely?
___ Does the vehicle pull to one side during normal operation?
___ Is steering difficult at any speed?
___ Turn sharply in both directions. Do you hear clunking or other noises, or feel rubbing or binding?
___ Does the vehicle shake or vibrate while moving? (Take the vehicle up to freeway speed for this test.)
___ Is the steering wheel centered when the vehicle is traveling straight ahead?
* Is there evidence of flood damage? Signs are upholstery and carpet stains, odor, rust in normally dry areas such as beneath the dashboard and inside the
glove compartment, powdery green or white residue inside lowest electrical connectors.
* Is the owners’ manual in the vehicle? How about the operating instructions for any accessories, and any warranty information that still applies to items like
tires and exhaust?
* Are previous repair and service records available? (Complete records are a sign that the owner has taken good care of the vehicle.)