Everything You Need To Know About Vehicle Inspection While Purchasing A Car

vehicle inspection

Inspection of the car needs to be thorough before buying a used car, large sum of money will be spent and inspection of the car is the only time available to ensure the used car is in proper condition. You do not wish to regret paying for a car which has many defects or errors with it.

Where and how to inspect a used car

The car must be inspected clean, in the light and not in a cramped garage, but in a spacious room or outdoors. So you are more likely to see the shortcomings of the paintwork, possible traces of an accident and body repair.

It is dangerous to inspect the car in an underground parking lot under dim artificial lighting: easily miss the defects. If the car is parked close to other cars or to the fence, ask them to drive them to an empty area. If the machine is dirty, ask the seller to wash it. A normal seller will not mind.

If the car is parked in a cramped and dark parking lot, ask the seller to rearrange it in a spacious and well-lit place. If you look around in a parking lot like the one in the photo, it’s easy to miss out on defects


During the inspection, we first check the documents: Ownership of the car from LTA and logcard of the car. This is to ensure that the car belongs to the original owner and he will be the one ensuring the process and transaction of the car to be thorough and complete.


The body is one of the key elements of the car. Your safety depends on its condition. The body recovered after a severe accident is unpredictable during a repeated accident. At the same time, a small accident in which only attachments were damaged is not critical for the body.

One way to check that the body is untouched is to look at the bolts that hold the parts together. Sometimes, to hide traces of interference after changing parts, bolts are painted. To determine the real state, swipe your fingers along the surface of the bolt. If it is factory, it will be smooth and without burrs. If it was unscrewed, traces would remain on it. The same applies to the inside of the wing – in the factory state it is smooth and even.

Assess the condition of the bolts and attachments. Well, if they do not have scuffs from a wrench. Also pay attention to the shape of the fasteners


The gaps between the body panels must be uniform throughout the junction of the body panels.

If the gaps between similar parts on the right and left sides of the car differ in thickness, this is an indirect sign of an accident in the history of the car.

If you buy a car yourself, I recommend to examine several options for one model. So you will understand which gaps are normal and which are not. The fact is that for cheap cars from the factory, the build quality may be lame, and the gaps will be large or uneven.

Note that the hood runs straight along the bumper, but the headlight sticks out a little. For this model, “Kia Sid” is the norm. Sometimes, in order to understand the permissible limits, you need to look at several cars of the same model


Experts can identify colored parts by eye and touch, but it is better for a conventional motorist to use a thickness gauge.

Pay attention to the color of adjacent body elements. If there is a difference between the shades, the car may have been repainted. Different tones between plastic and metal elements for middle and economy class cars are the norm.

Slide your fingers along the end of the body element. The surface painted at the factory is smooth, and the repainted one is rough and convex, like an orange peel.

The thickness gauge must be calibrated and applied strictly perpendicular

Hood space

Look under the hood for internal bodywork and engine condition. The main power elements are side members and wing shelves.

The lower tubes of a square section are spars. They should not have creases, traces of welding and deformation. In the photo, the spar on the right, with gray marks, is after repair: he was injured in an accident

The metal in the upper part of the engine compartment is a wing shelf. It should be smooth, without creases and cracks. The thickness of the paint layer according to the thickness gauge on the internal elements of the body should not exceed 150 microns. Sealant at the joints of parts should be applied evenly.

Spars with traces of deformation, rust, nascent cracks indicate either a severe accident or a poor condition of the body.

Interior Condition

According to the state of the cabin, you can often determine the mileage of the car. Usually it gives out wear on the steering wheel, pedals and seats.

Sometimes, to hide high mileage, sellers change all the elements in the cabin that show signs of intensive use: a driver’s seat, gearshift lever, dashboard buttons, upholstery, and so on.

One of the key indicators of a car’s condition is mileage. Sellers often twist odometer readings, so you have to guess the real mileage by indirect signs

Scratches and scuffs indicate that the car drove a long time and a lot. If the steering wheel is in the same condition as in the photo, sellers often alter its upholstery. This can be understood by a rough line or material different from other similar machines. An altered steering wheel is not a gift to you, but an attempt to hide the mileage.

From auto pickers and reviewers. Then you need to inspect several used cars of this model with mileage. So you will know which damage is typical for the interior of this car, and which are not.

Look in the passenger compartment for uneven gaps between the trim elements. This may be a sign of repair after an accident. Traces of a panel rupture in the airbag zone are a very bad signal and an indirect sign of a serious accident.

Airbags for accidents open sharply and with force. At the same time, the plastic parts of the interior break and the fastenings of the trim parts break. If a used car has curved gaps between the interior panels, and seams or bumps are visible at the places of departure of the pillows, it is likely that this car was in a severe accident.

Check the used car with a scanner

When you have already chosen a used car and are ready to buy it, check the electronics with a diagnostic scanner. Scanners are portable – for checking the machine on the spot. A mistake in the airbags (Airbag) may indirectly indicate a severe accident. Transmission error – an occasion to carefully check it in the service. The more expensive the machine, the more sensors it has and the more relevant such a test.

Ideally, there should be no errors at all.


  • If the price of a used car is 30% lower than the average market price, do not buy it.
  • Check attracted cars and their owners on the open databases of the traffic police and the FSSP. Some proposals will disappear even before the inspection stage.
  • Inspect the used car clean and in good light.
  • Carefully inspect the interior: the appearance of the steering wheel and the seat can tell more than the odometer readings.
  • If you like the car, do not skimp on the diagnostics at the service station: there is no analogue of verification by certified equipment.

If you have a car that you wish to sell, you can get your car auctioned on our website for free! Get your car sold today before purchasing another car!

SGCarTrade is a free online platform to source for the highest quote for your used car. Sell your car or scrap your car can never be easier than this through our free service, with no fees and obligations. Our network of dealers will bid for your car within 1 working day! You have the option to watch your car bids LIVE on our website by selling your car through auction. Rest assured and be at ease while we do the job for you. 

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