How to Buy a Used Car in Arizona (the Smart Way)

Family Choosing Car

Purchasing a vehicle can be overwhelming. If your knowledge of cars stops at pumping gas, you may be looking for a little extra help getting comfortable with starting your search. When possible, bring a trusted friend along for the ride. Even if you are both are clueless about cars, one of you is apt to notice something the other doesn’t. When looking for used car dealers in Glendale, AZ, this checklist will give you some peace of mind while navigating the purchase of your used vehicle.

The Basics
Is the manual is in the glove compartment? Sound silly? Maybe, but the manual should help you set the clock and favorite stations and tells you everything about your car – like how to set trip mileage as opposed to total mileage. Or what that odd blinking symbol is on your dash. Always request the owner’s manual.

Interior Check
Checking the interior seems easy enough, just pop your head in and look around, right? But are you going to remember to look up and check the ceiling? Or to see if the back seats have car seat anchors?

  • Are there tears, wear, cracks or blemishes on the seats or trim?
  • Are the windows scratched, cracked and do they move up and down?
  • Heat and air conditioning – do they both work?
  • Do the wipers and mirrors move?
  • If you have or are expecting children, check for child safety locks and windows along with car seat anchors.
  • Is there a spare tire and jack in the trunk?

Exterior Check
The exterior check is a little more tricky but completely doable. Walk slowly around the car and check for the following:

  • Any visible body damage to the car including wheels, hubcaps, bumper or paint?
  • Any missing trim?
  • Do you see any evidence of poorly repaired damage?

You may not be a ‘car person’ and this may be the first time you have ever seen the bottom of a car, but fear not. Here are a few things that even the most novice car owner can look for:

  • Do you see any rust?
  • Is there uneven wear on the tires? Ask how old the tires are.
  • Does oil coat everything?
  • Ask about brake pads and rotors.
  • Is anything leaking?
  • Any bent or dented metal?

Under the Hood
Even if you have never added windshield wash, you can easily identify cracks and leaks.

  • With the vehicle off and cool, squeeze the hoses. Are they brittle or cracked?
  • Are the belts cracked?
  • Are there any exposed wires?
  • Ask about the age of the battery.
  • Ask the last time the oil was changed and if the steering, brake, coolant, and transmission levels have been topped off and changed recently.

Test Drive
Always test drive with a friend or family member.

  • While you operate the lights, blinker, and brakes, have your friend watch the front, then the back, of the vehicle to ensure that the lights work.
  • Put the car in reverse and have your friend make sure the backup lights engage.
  • Check for smoke
  • Are the breaks soft or mushy?
  • Is there slack in the wheel?
  • Do you hear any clunking or unidentified noises?
  • Does the car vibrate at highway speed?
  • Does the car pull to one side? Does the transmission jerk?

Do Your Research
If you are looking for used car dealers in Glendale, AZ, research local used car dealers and read their reviews, visit the top used car dealers with a friend and bring this checklist. Now that you know what to look for, begin your search for the perfect used car with confidence.