The Steps of Buying a Used Car

  • The steps of buying a used car

Buying a car is a serious step. Buying a new car, the buyer pays more, but at the same time feels at ease, as there is no search problem, minimum risks and there is a warranty, which insures against unexpected troubles in operation. But for many drivers a new car is unaffordable, so they prefer to buy a used car and thus save at least 30% of their budget.  For those who want to buy a used vehicle, our experts have made a plan – the stages of buying a used car from planning to maintenance after the transaction.

The main stages of buying a used car

The basic steps of buying a used car include the following steps:

  1. Determining the size of your purchase budget.
  2. Determining the make, model of the car and other search criteria.
  3. Searching for the right car.
  4. Checking the history of the car.
  5. Inspection and test drive.
  6. Purchase, registration and registration.
  7. After-sales service.

Let’s go into more detail about what you need to do at each stage.


Determine the amount of money you are willing to spend to buy a car. This amount should not be determined by the cost of the car itself. In addition to the price of the car, it should include additional expenses for commission (if you buy the car at auction), registration, insurance, taxes, technical inspection. If the car has defects, damages, you should also budget a certain amount for maintenance and repair.

What kind of car do you want

Once you’ve calculated your options, you can move on to the next step – getting ahead of your needs. When choosing the specific make and model of car you want to buy, you need to consider not only your desires, but also many important factors:

  • Operating conditions. Decide how often you will use the vehicle and what distances you will drive.
  • Body type. Choose the body type not only according to the operating conditions, but also according to your needs.
  • Number of passengers. If you plan to use the vehicle for family trips, make sure there is enough room for everyone in the family.
  • Transmission. Which transmission is right for you: manual or automatic? Cars with an automatic transmission are usually cheaper and consume less fuel, but they can be less comfortable to drive, especially in city traffic.
  • Maintenance and operating costs. Your spending is not limited to buying and financing the car. You should also determine at the outset how much you are willing to spend regularly on maintenance, insurance and fuel.

When you have the exact criteria, you can start researching the market and finally determine what make and model of car you will be looking for. Internet reviews, reviews from bloggers on YouTube, and ratings of the best cars will help you find the best option.

Search for cars on car websites

Look for used cars on various online classifieds platforms, dealerships, car auctions or through personal contacts. When choosing an auto website, look for popular platforms with a large selection of used cars and a good reputation. For a quick search of options, you can use filters (car make and model, year of manufacture, body type, transmission type, mileage, etc.) According to the given parameters, select several options for comparison. These can be offers from different online resources.

Carefully examine the lot photos and descriptions, prices, technical condition, mileage, equipment and other features to get the best possible idea of each one’s condition. If you have questions about a particular vehicle, feel free to contact the seller for more information.

Car history check by VIN code

Checking a car’s history by VIN code is an important step before buying a used car. First of all, you need to find the VIN code – a unique number, which is usually located on a screw plate located in a prominent place in the engine compartment or on the windshield on the bottom right. Then you should check the VIN number on the body against the number on the car documents.

Use online services to check the VIN code. There are a lot of such services, and with their help you can easily and quickly check the history of the vehicle, find out its configuration, status, identify the facts of participation in accidents, change of configuration, mileage data and a lot of other useful information that will help in making a decision about buying a car. For checking you can use service, where free checking and paid full report on car history are available.

To check the VIN code, you need to enter the vehicle identification number into the active window on the site pages. After entering the VIN-code and payment (if it is a paid service) you will receive a detailed report on the history of the car. This report contains information about mileage, registration history, previous owners, insurance, accidents, arrests, liens and other important data.

Analyze the report, pay special attention to any negative aspects that may affect your decision on the deal. Carrying out a VIN history check will help you avoid unpleasant surprises when buying a used car.

Visual inspection, workshop inspection

The biggest mistake many drivers make is that they only take their car in for service after they’ve bought it. Experts recommend checking the exterior and technical condition of the car before agreeing to a deal.

Checking the technical condition of a car before buying it is an extremely important step, especially if it is a used car. It will help you avoid unpleasant surprises after the purchase.

Here are the basic steps to follow during a visual inspection:

  1. Body.

Check it for damage, scratches, dents or rust spots. Check that all body parts (doors, hood, trunk) are straight and show no signs of non-factory paint. Check the condition of the windows for cracks, chips or fogging on the inside.

  1. Engine.

Inspect the engine for oil or other fluid leaks. Check the oil level and condition with an oil dipstick. Start the engine and listen to the running sound. The engine should run smoothly, with no knocking or other noises.

  1. Suspension and brake system.

Inspect shock absorbers for oil leaks. Check brake discs and pads for wear. Check steering linkage and lugs for play.

  1. Electrical Systems.

Check the operation of the main electrical devices (headlights, windows, central locking and air conditioning). Check the condition of the battery and electrical wiring.

  1. Salon.

The first thing to look for during the inspection is wear, stains and damage. Also check the operation of all switches and instruments.

After a visual inspection, you should test drive the car. A test drive will help you evaluate the performance of the engine, transmission, suspension, braking system and handling of the car. If you are not confident in your skills, it is better to contact a specialist or mechanic who can conduct a more in-depth inspection.

Finally, check the availability of all necessary documents: technical passport, registration certificate, insurance policy and service book.

Buying a car

If the car meets your expectations, start negotiating the price. Make sure you negotiate a fair and reasonable price that is consistent with the age, condition of the car and current market prices. Once you have agreed on a price with the seller, prepare all the necessary documents and you can close the deal. What documents are needed to buy and sell a car, read in the article.

Once you buy the car, register it in your name and complete all the necessary paperwork, including insurance and inspection.

Car maintenance after purchase

After buying a used car, it is mandatory to carry out a maintenance service:

  • Change of oil and filters (oil and air filters in the cabin).
  • Check brake system (level and quality of brake fluid).
  • Check coolant level and condition.
  • Checking/cleaning battery terminals.
  • Filling the windshield washer fluid.

If there is a need to add or change fluids in the car. Maintenance procedures after you buy your car will help keep it in good condition and keep you traveling safely. If you are inexperienced in these procedures, contact a professional auto mechanic or auto service center.