top of page

Checklist for Purchasing a Used Vehicle

Purchasing a used vehicle can save thousands of dollars, but before making such an important financial commitment, it’s best to have vehicles you’re considering inspected by a non-biased and reliable mechanic. There are a lot of things you can do to eliminate the lemons before having it looked at by a professional. Review this helpful checklist for purchasing a used vehicle to save yourself a lot of time, money, and the possibility of buying a faulty vehicle.

Paint and Exterior

If you read our Caring for Your Vehicle During Arizona’s Hot Summer Months article, you’ll recall the first point we bring up is keeping your car in the garage or covered parking. The sun will quickly wear down paints and plastics, particularly in Arizona, so take a good look at the exterior and any surfaces that might be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, such as the dashboard and interior weather stripping.

We always recommend looking at the tires as well. Be sure and ask if the tires were rotated regularly and take a close look for wear and tear. A way to tell if your tires are still safe is by placing a penny head first into a few tread grooves across the tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time to replace them.


With the recent devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida, tons of damaged vehicles will be flooding the market (no pun intended), so keep an eye out for vehicles with water damage. A few signs to look for include: a price that seems too good to be true (usually is), a moldy stench, rusted and corroded seat wheel tracks and any other metal surfaces near the lower interior of the vehicle, and upholstery/fabrics newer than the vehicle. It can be difficult to spot these signs as those trying to sell the vehicle have put a lot of time and money making the vehicle look like it wasn’t flooded, so it’s always best to have a professional mechanic take a look before spending thousands of dollars through a private party.

Show Me the CarFax

CARFAX is a useful tool that provides vehicle history reports for vehicle(s) you’re considering purchasing. Started in 1986 in hopes of eliminating odometer fraud, CARFAX will tell you the information not everyone is willing to share.

Service Records

Ask the owner to show you any service records they might have, including receipts from oil changes and other regular maintenance records. Having these documents will give you a good idea on how the vehicle was treated. If the owner doesn't have them, ask if they can contact any mechanics who worked on the vehicle for that information.


When purchasing a used car in Arizona, you will need to obtain certain documents from the seller. Those documents include a bill of sale and notarized vehicle title. You must then get a vehicle inspection and obtain an emissions compliance form as proof. Once you have the required paperwork, you can register your vehicle with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). Be sure and review the Paperwork When Buying a Car in Arizona and Buying and Selling FAQs in Arizona articles on the MVD website to ensure you don’t miss any necessary paperwork.

We hope you've found our checklist for purchasing a used vehicle useful the next time you're in the market for a used vehicle. If you'd like to set up a time for us to look over any cars, trucks, vans, or SUVs, call us at (480) 834-9274 or fill out the form on our Contact Us page.

3 views0 comments


bottom of page