7 Things to Inspect in a Secondhand Car

A secondhand car is a worthwhile purchase–that is, if you did your homework and made sure you know what it takes for a car to be worth your money. Many make the mistake of not inspecting a secondhand car thoroughly enough that they end up spending more year after year for repairs. Or worse, only to find out that the car barely functions for more than a few miles! To avoid these types of situations, check out these 7 things to inspect in a secondhand car before taking your ride home.

It’s always better to bring a professional mechanic with you or bring it to an automotive service center. But just to give you an idea, we’re here to give you a quick yet detailed run-through of some of the most important points, especially if this is your first time.

PS: Should you need a quick guide on buying you first car too, you may read this helpful article on it as well!

What to Inspect in a Secondhand Car:

1. Research about the car’s model and condition

The importance of researching cannot be stressed enough. Before anything, always make sure that you’ve familiarized yourself with the model that you plan to buy. There are lots of online communities that discuss possible problems and other well-known trouble spots.

Here are things you should take note of:

  • Model, brand, and year
  • Price range
  • Well-known trouble spots
  • Mileage

Tip: When looking for a used car on platforms like Carousell, pay close attention to the listing description. You can also chat with the seller prior to get further information!

Chat with direct owners and trusted dealerships like @idi.acmotors on Carousell

2. Check for vehicle documents

Never forget to check for the car’s documents so you don’t run into legal problems in the future. This will ensure that the car is not stolen, and you have the real deal. Check for the following:

  • The seller is registered as the owner (ask for the original copy of the original receipt of registration and certificate of Vehicle Registration – OR/CR from LTO)
  • Registration document number of vehicle is the same as vehicle registration certificate
  • Original LTO plate number
  • If the car is fairly new, check if the seller has fully paid for the car. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof like the Release of Chattel Mortgage that will come from the bank.
  • Service receipts

Research on the car model you're planning on buying - Carousell PH Blog

3. Inspect the body of the secondhand car

It’s always best to check out all aspects of the car’s body and make sure it’s up to your standards.

  • Examine the tires and see if there are noticeable damages
  • Check if the size of the tires are the same with that in the registration
  • The doors, windows, and locks are working properly
  • No signs of accidents

Inspect the vehicle's body and tires before you buy it - Carousell PH Blog

Browse cars on Carousell

4. Check what’s underneath the car

You may also want to check the situation from under the car.

  • Make sure that there are no leaks or drips, and there are no signs of rust.
  • The buffers are clean and not oily

Check underneath the secondhand car that you're planning on buying - Carousell PH Blog


5. Check the engine compartment

To make sure the car runs smoothly, here are a number of things to check out in the engine compartment.

  • Engine is dry and not oily
  • Tubes, cables, battery in good condition
  • Battery not any older than 3 years, no rust on the poles

Check the engine compartment of the secondhand car you're planning on buying - Carousell PH Blog


6. Do a test drive

It’s time to test the waters! You’ll know the car is meant for you only when you’ve personally given it a spin. If something feels off, it’s good to consult a car mechanic that you trust.

Make sure to take out the secondhand car on a test drive before you finalize your deal - Carousell PH Blog

Browse cars on Carousell

7. Verify the vehicle’s LTO plate number

A good security measure that might also help is to check if the car you’re buying has no bad record by texting LTO. This is to verify the plate number. Simply text “LTO VEHICLE <PLATE NUMBER>” and send it to 2600. See sample below.

Sample LTO Vehicle Check through SMS service - Carousell PH Blog

By completing these 7 things to inspect in a secondhand car, you can buy the right one for you worry-free!

Taking these precautions could save you money or even your life. While it may be wise to purchase a secondhand car, do keep in mind that there are risks you may be taking so it’s better to minimize them. Don’t be shy to back out if there are major or minor issues. It’s your money, after all.

These are just a few reminders on what to inspect so you get your money’s worth and end up winning together with the car seller. Good luck!



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