You are here:

Used Cars/Buying a used car


I know you're supposed to get a used car looked at by a mechanic before you buy it, but how does this work? Does the person selling the car agree to let you take it in to a mechanic of your choice? I can't imagine doing that if I were selling a car, they could just take off with it! I've never bought a car so don't know anything about the process.

Hi Gail

Congratulations on your first car purchase event. Sorry this is a little bit late I did not see you sitting in my queue. I am here to help you through the whole process if you need me to so let's get started.

Your best bet for a pre-purchase inspection is to find a mobile mechanic who performs these functions. They usually charge between 50 and $150 and they will go to wherever the car is for the inspection and report back only to you. You can find people who perform the service in the services portion of Craigslist area there are lots of them,.

The other way I that occurs is when the seller agrees to take the car to the mechanic himself or herself and wait while the car is looked at... Which usually takes about an hour. Obviously the first option is the best.

When looking at a car you're thinking about buying.. Always check the oil to make sure it's clean and fresh, open the radiator I inspect the radiator cap and water level, and open the oil area and check the top of the There to make sure it doesn't have water and a chocolate milk look to it. When you start the car listen for low engine knocking... If it knocks runaway. Check tire tread depth. Get in the car and started up and with your foot on the brake put it in drive wait to feel the transmission engage with a click forward and then put it into reverse and do the same thing if the car goes into gear with a hard clunk either direction further and further investigations are necessary. If there are any warning lights on make sure somebody reads the codes for you... They will do this at any auto parts store for the most part for free. Lastly look at the wear and tear on the vehicle and make sure that it corresponds with the numbers of miles you're looking out on the odometer. Look at little things like does the air blow cold... Does the stereo work... Do all the windows rolled up and down... Deficiencies in these areas point towards a lack of attention to detail and most likely poor maintenance habits of the selling party.

I will stay with you through this process if you need me to because I don't want to see you get taken to the cleaners or end up with a bad car on your first car purchase my direct email is and that's the best place to reach me so that I don't have to depend on my queue to alert me to your questions.

Thank you for the question and happy shopping

The Car Guy

Used Cars

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE AT


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Experts360, Atheneum Partners, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

NADA, OADA, NFIB, State Certified Used Car Appraiser

Special Finance Insider, Dealer, and Automotive News, Gerson Lehrman Group Auto Industry Council News (frequently, various industry websites and blogs including my own blog at

Willamette University - Salem Oregon BA Economics Willamette University Graduate School of Business - Econometrics Statistics

Awards and Honors
GM's Award of (their most prestigious award) Given to Dealers who surpass their annual benchmark planning volume while also maintaining Top Box (top 5%) CSI

Past/Present Clients
Citadel Investment Group , Summit Partners US ,Broad Peak Investment Management, Nautic Partners, LLC, Hellman & Friedman Investors, L.P. and over 40 additional money managers, hedge funds and research groups

©2017 All rights reserved.