I want to buy a car from a used car dealer. What do I need to know?

Ask for an inspection report

You can ask the registered dealer for a full inspection report by a qualified mechanic. Depending on what you agree to, the dealer may pay for the inspection and then give you the report.

A Safety Standards Certificate inspection is not the same thing as a full inspection. A safety inspection only makes sure that the car is safe to drive. It checks for things like the brakes, lights, and steering. It will not tell you if things like the radio or the heater are working.

If the dealer does not agree to pay for a full inspection, you may want to pay for one yourself. An inspection by a qualified mechanic can help you decide if you want to buy the car.

Always look for signs that the car might have been in an accident:

  • check the outside of the car for parts that don't match up
  • see if there are patches of paint that look newer than the rest
  • look for any leaking fluid
  • test the air conditioning, radio, and other features
  • look for ‘check engine' lights, or other signs the car needs maintenance
  • look at the wear on the tires, especially at the front
  • take the car for a test-drive

Ask the dealer for the vehicle's accident history and service record, including maintenance and repairs.

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