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Used Car Buying Guide. Inspection, Engine Check, Documents

Used Car Buying Guide. Inspection, Engine Check, Documents

Guide about Used Car Buying. Know all Checks and Inspection from Engine, Suspension, Documents, Wear and Tear Parts required in Used Car Purchase


Used Cars Vs New Car

Buying a Second Hand Car is altogether a different ball game against New Car

Unlike a New Car which is available in

  • Flawless Condition straight from the Factory
  • Engine Untouched, Brand New Tyres, Quality Tested
  • Clear Documentation, Warranty
  • Spic and Span Condition in Interiors, Exteriors

A Used car Purchase involves a 

  • Thorough Inspection of Engine, Suspension, Tyres, AC
  • Service History in Past, Wear & Tear Items been replaced
  • Test Driving and Experiencing the feel, feedback, Noise
  • Accidental History, Repairs, Documentation Check up for RC Transfer
  • Rule out Tampering of Odometer Reading, Price Negotiation

failing which one is inviting a Miserable Buying Call


Buying Used Cars - Dealer or Direct Seller

Remember if you buying a Car from Used Car Dealer there are 2 Big Advantages

  • At a Used Car Dealership one can get to see different Models of Different Brands at one go and identify the best for the need.
  • A Dealer acts as Middlemen and ensure RC Transfer Process is done seamlessly.

However, do note its a Dealer Business to keep his cut - on both buying and selling transaction - ultimately this is his bread and butter - thus Real Price Discovery does not happen.

Also, are cases of Frauds came in where Cars are refurbished with Odometer tampered and sold at much higher price. If you considering a better price Discovery - Its always recommended to Contact direct Owner as seller, for your purchase - and any Genuine Seller will provide you

  • Service History, Bills and documentation
  • How he kept the Car in actual Condition 
  • Usage of Car. Whether Short Distance or Regular Usage
  • Original RC, Insurance can be checked
  • RC Transfer Forms will be signed by Seller himself

In Short - You will get in a car at the right price with all documents from the Original Owner of the car. See this Used Elite I20 Asta Option Top Model with Fully Loaded Features, mere 4 Year Old with Complete Service History, 30,000 Kms on Odometer reading available at just rs 4.9 Lakh (at this price in 2020 you will get Wagon R Lxi Basic Model)

The Only Disadvantage would be Extra Work in form of Identifying and finding the Best Car meeting requirement. You may have to do slight a more legwork in finding different cars and meeting owners to check, inspect the best one for you.

Below is an Attempt to Provide a One Stop Guide from Vehicle Inspection to Deal Closure of your Used Car Purchase


Step 1 - Used Car Inspection

Inspecting a Car is not a Rocket Science - provided the basics are correct

There's a Saying - 1+1 = 11 .Its better to have a Friend / Colleague / Family Member Accompany you - in case you miss a part of Inspection - can well be caught by him. (For Easing the Inspection Part - Take a Local Trained Workshop Personnel or your Trusted Mechanic in Cars to get Car Inspected for you on Paid Basis. He will also check on Engine Bay additionally)

  • First and Foremost is Ask Owner for Disclosure of any Problems, Accidental History, Bonnet Change, Bumper Change, Body Repairs or Repaint Work. If Owner is Genuine, he will disclose more than 75% of information First Hand only, which is a big Positive 
  • Now Move on to Vehicle Inspection Check Car in Broad Day Sunlight in Open and Not Covered Parking.  
  • Check Body Paint Condition from All Sides, Bonnet, Bumper. Side Doors. Is Body Paint Uniform - A Patch of Color Change Can be Indication of Accidental Car - Inspect it Closely.  
  • Check Odometer - Check Tyre Condition, Generally Tyres Call for Replacement at around 60,000 Kms or Maximum 6 Years - Check Tyre Tread along with Disc closely. If tyre tread seems okay, but car been completed 5 years - its to known that tyres will need replacement after a year and count in replacement Cost. You can also decode Tyre Manufacturing Year easily

Tyre Manufactruing Date

The Last 4 Digits in DOT Number series indicate Manufacturing Month and Year. Like in above the last 2 digits are 04 - means Manufacturing Year is 2004 of Tyres, while the initial 2 digits 03 means 3rd Week of the year. Implies this is January 2004 Tyre. 

  • Check Car Window Beading. Is it in Straight Line, Do note that in event of Side Impact and Doors been replaced this line can not be straight up


  • Check and Inspect Engine Compartment. Open Bonnet and check whether the pattern is in one uniform design. If not or any welding work then this can possibly signify that the car frontal met an accident. 

Now Starr car engine and observe any Noise as such. 

Also Check by taking Dipstick Out. Ask for any Tissue to clean it and again put Inside. Check Oil Quality in it, Oil Levels (where the Oil should be between 2 Points as Minimum and Maximum). If its of slight black or carbon deposit side then it means that Oil is not good. Do cross check Service History on when the Oil was changed and where it was changed


Car Functions, Interior Checkup

  • Check Car Features - Is AC, Blower Fan, Music System, Central Lock System, Power Window System, Lights Fog Lights, Horn etc on arrival at Starting Point.
  • Interiors - Seat Upholstery - Is The Seat Fabric Dirt / Intact / Torn / Clean - How Cushioned are Front and Rear Seats.
  • Check and Inspect Clutch. Is there a play or too deep travel in Clutch to identify Clutch Issue
  • Are Gear Shifts easily happening ?
  • Check for Doors - Can you open and close all 4 Doors with Ease or any Noise.


Test Drive Car 

Take a Test Drive of the Car for say 5 Kms and split in 30-30-40 Rule

Here First 30 means - 1.5 Kms Drive with Windows Open without turning on the Music System to listen to any Noise, Rattling Sounds or Squeach Sounds on applying Brakes, Drive on bad patch roads to check any Noise from Suspension

Next 30 means - 1.5 Kms Drive to Inspect Brakes, Clutch, Pickup, Gear Smoothness, Steering Easeness, Reverse, Car

During last Leg of Test Drive (2 km) - Turn Windows Down, Check AC Cooling, Music System Head Unit, Speakers Sound Level, Car Comfort.


Inspection after Driving Car for Few Kms

Now After taking test drive. On Halt - twist and take dipstick out, check if any Oil Droplets or Smoke coming from the Dipstick area, Observe for any Fluid Leak

  • Now go on Rear and ask Driver to race the Engine on Neutral. Check and observe the Smoke levels from Exhaust.

a) Blue Smoke Indicates that Engine Oil is getting burned due to possible Engine Valve Issue, Worn out Piston Ring.

b) White Smoke on start up is Okay, but even if white smoke happening even after driving car for 5 minutes or so indicates that Coolant is getting leaked and getting Mixed with Engine Oil.

c) Black Smoke indicatives EGR Valve and Diesel Injectors been Clogged up

Assess a Price for Used Car basis Condition. Refer - Used Car Valuation Matrix for Indicative Assessment Value and basis car conditions - Average to Excellent - can see Owner Demand as Fair Price or with Possibility of Negotiation.


Step 2: Evaluating Service History of Vehicle

Ask Owner Politely for Estimated Service Interval and Maintenance Costs and basis his statement ask for Service Bills / History of Vehicle - which serves Dual Purpose :-

» It helps in Preventing as Victim of Odometer Tampering. Service Bills at Authorized Workshop have Kms Mentioned in it. One Can Match it with kms on Odometer.

» Apart from it, is but obvious whether the owner following service schedule and where were the services done - Authorized Workshop or Local Garage

Check in Service History or Ask for replacement or work on Wear and Teat Items. Indicative Life referred in 

  • Battery
  • Brake Pads
  • Clutch Plate
  • Tyres
  • Wiper Blades
  • AC Servicing (if any done for Gas refill)


Step 3 - Evaluating Ownership Documents

Smart Card erstwhile known as RC Copy is the most Important Document. ORIGINAL RC COPY is Mandatory document required to be submitted in RTO for effecting Car Sale. Having a Photocopy is not accepted at time of transfer. If Original Owner has Lost RC, insist on him to get New Smart Card Issue before executing Deal. 

  • Read RC Carefully - Model, Sub Variant, Owner Name, Address, Registration Number and match with Insurance
  • Check Owner Serial Number (1 signifies First Owner, 2 signifies Second Owner, 3 for Third Owner)
  • Match Engine Number and Chassis Number of Car as in RC Book and Insurance Policy
  • Check on Manufacturing Year of Car as in RC. This could be Different from Registration year. Will help in Negotiating price further, if manufacturing year is previous year to Registration Year (Ex - Manufacturing is Nov 2012, Registration is January 2013) - Technically for Valuation per Se - Car will be marked more than a Year Old if Manufacturing Year is Previous to Registration year
  • Check Hypothecation Column in RC and Insurance. if any Loan is Taken Financier Name would be there and NOC would be required to close the loan.  Do not miss to ask for loan Statement to assess Outstanding and make a condition to close loan 
  • Check for NCB (No Claim Bonus in Insurance). If NCB (No Claim Bonus) is Zero - there could be a claim in previous year - ask for reasons of claim


Refer this Video Explaining on Document Frauds, Traffic Offence on Car



Additional Formality

- Cars sold in India - comes with Pair of 2 Original Keys. Try on Checking both Keys - If the car open and ignition switch can turn on

- Check on Name of Owner as in RC, Matching Original Copy of ID Proof and Address Proof - if dealing with unknown individual

- Check on All Original Papers - RC, Insurance, PUC and Latest Service Bills

- Do Not Miss to Execute Sale Agreement documented for avoiding any claim


Step 4 - Executing Sale Transaction (RTO Formalities)

We Strongly Recommended to give highest consideration to

  • Condition of Car
  • Service History

to be given Utmost Consideration for Buying Used Car.

Remember, all Verbatim talks are useless - if not backed by documentation. Do not miss to know Pre Hand

Ownership Transfer Process

RTO Forms for Buying Used Car

so that you can check on documents and feel confident of executing the used car transaction at time of deal closure. 

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Comments 3

Guest - Basant Bahadur on Monday, 01 June 2020 11:22

Sir I checked a beat car found oil throughout from dip stick what indication that if I buy or not

Sir I checked a beat car found oil throughout from dip stick what indication that if I buy or not
Guest - SANDESH KARNIRE on Thursday, 14 March 2019 15:02

have u found the car u were looking for??????

have u found the car u were looking for??????
Guest - vinayak gulhane on Saturday, 03 February 2018 10:37

Good Morning Team..Just sold my chevy beat petrol. Now i am thinking to buy used car for 2 year use,my monthly average running is max 1500km kindly suggest should i buy petrol or diesel car..My budget is 1.5 lac to 2.20 lac. My choices are maruti suzuki swift 2008 to 2012, dezire 2008 to 2010, tata manza diesel, ritz 2009 to 2013, and ford figo diesel. in my city only tata, maruti authorized service centers are available so please suggest....

Good Morning Team..Just sold my chevy beat petrol. Now i am thinking to buy used car for 2 year use,my monthly average running is max 1500km kindly suggest should i buy petrol or diesel car..My budget is 1.5 lac to 2.20 lac. My choices are maruti suzuki swift 2008 to 2012, dezire 2008 to 2010, tata manza diesel, ritz 2009 to 2013, and ford figo diesel. in my city only tata, maruti authorized service centers are available so please suggest....
Sunday, 27 September 2020

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