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DIY Inspection for Buying a Used Car 

Car keys changing hands when buying new vehicle

Buying a used car can be an exciting journey, especially in bustling areas like Ontario, California, and the Inland Empire. While shopping for a used vehicle presents a fantastic opportunity to get a great deal, it’s crucial to know what to look for to ensure you’re making a wise investment. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the essential steps of a DIY inspection when buying a used car. And remember, while a DIY inspection is a good starting point, having the pros handle it by buying a certified pre-owned vehicle is often the best route to peace of mind. 

  1. Start with the Exterior

The first step in your DIY inspection should start with the exterior of the car. Look for any signs of damage, such as dents, scratches, or rust. Pay special attention to the condition of the paint, as inconsistencies might indicate previous accidents or repairs. Also, examine the tires. Uneven tire wear could be a sign of alignment issues or a history of poor maintenance. 

  1. Check Under the Hood

Even if you’re not a mechanic, a quick look under the hood can reveal a lot. Check the engine for any signs of leaks, corrosion, or damage. The condition of the belts and hoses is also a good indicator of how well the car has been maintained. Don’t forget to check the oil and coolant levels. Dirty or low fluid levels might indicate neglect. 

  1. Interior Inspection

The interior of the car is just as important as the exterior. Check the upholstery for tears, stains, or wear. Test all the electronic components like the air conditioning, radio, and windows to ensure they’re working correctly. Also, don’t overlook the smell of the car’s interior, as odors can be indicators of mold or mildew. 

  1. Take it for a Spin

A test drive is crucial. It’s the best way to assess the car’s performance and comfort level. During the test drive, pay attention to how the car handles, including the braking, steering, and suspension. Listen for any unusual noises, as these could be red flags. Remember to test the car in different driving conditions, such as on highways and in stop-and-go traffic. 

  1. Professional Inspection

While a DIY inspection is a great start, it’s not a substitute for a professional evaluation. Consider getting a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic. This can provide a more in-depth look at the car’s condition and potentially save you from costly repairs down the line. 

  1. History Check

One of the most critical steps in buying a used car is to check its history. Services like CARFAX can provide valuable information about the car’s past, including accident history, ownership, and service records. This is a vital step in ensuring the car doesn’t have a troubled past that could affect its future performance and value. 

Vehicle history report  

Why Opt for a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle? 

While a DIY inspection can certainly help you weed out problematic vehicles, nothing beats the assurance of buying a certified pre-owned car. Certified pre-owned vehicles have been thoroughly inspected, repaired, and certified by the manufacturer or other certifying authority, ensuring that they meet the highest standards. 

At Ontario Auto Center, we offer a wide selection of certified pre-owned vehicles that have undergone rigorous inspections and come with extended warranties, providing you with peace of mind. By choosing a certified pre-owned vehicle, you’re not only getting a car that’s in excellent condition, but you’re also benefiting from additional perks like roadside assistance and special financing options. 


Car shopping in Ontario, California, and the Inland Empire can be an enjoyable experience, especially if you’re well-informed about the basics of inspecting a used car. Remember, while a DIY inspection is beneficial, having professionals handle it with a certified pre-owned car offers unmatched assurance and quality. 

Ready to explore a wide range of certified pre-owned vehicles that have passed rigorous inspections? Start your search here! 



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