Many drivers do not go about having a brand new car as their first car. A majority of those who are still in college or have their first jobs can only afford second-hand ones.
Like brand new cars, second-hand ones also have a list of things to do when you get your hands on it.
First, let us assume that all the doors and windows work and there are no missing windows; otherwise, have those fixed first.
The first thing you need to check is the engine. Check if the engine is making funny noises like high pitch squeaks or some clanking sounds. It might be a loose belt or faulty water pump. Use the dipstick to see if the oil is still black. Any water contamination will show traces of white which means you need to have the engine oil drained and replaced or worse, have the engine overhauled.
A dipstick for measuring the level of motor oil inside a car engine. Wikipedia
Observe if the engine temperature is normal. Overheating means the cooling system is shot and needs to be replaced. Lastly, consult the owner’s manual for maintenance schedules.
The second part to check is steering, suspension and tires. See if your tires are balding, you need to replace them if they don’t pass the dime test.
Have a professional check the wheel alignment and for suspension damage. These are things you don’t see when buying the car so be sure to go to your mechanic to have it checked.
Lastly, do a simple brake test. Check if the brake pedal is responsive. Unresponsive brakes mean that either the brake line or hydro vac is shot. Have it fixed immediately to avoid having it fail while driving. Also, check if the brake pads are still intact.
There is a longer list of things to check out in your car like the AC unit and the bushing, but we are just focusing on the essentials for now. Do the check before going out and driving your secondhand vehicle. Better safe than sorry.