Used Car Checklist

Used Car Checklist

Here at Key Cars, we help thousands of drivers throughout Milford, Manchester, and Middletown pick out the perfect like-new ride. It all starts with providing the right information, so ultimately you can make a confident decision.

In fact, knowing what to look for in a used car can end up making a huge difference down the line in terms of ROI and maintenance. That’s why we created this handy used car checklist!

Take a look and don’t hesitate to reference it before and during your upcoming visit.

Customer looking at used car inventory on a tablet

Part One: Do Your Homework

If you’re like most drivers, purchasing a used car, truck or SUV is a big decision. With so many options to consider, it’s wise to set aside time to really think through your options.

To start, determine your specific needs and lifestyle. Do you need this vehicle for work? What’s the parking situation at your home? Do you expect your family to grow in the next few years?

These questions can help you methodically narrow your options down to the right used vehicle.

Once you have a select few in your sights, it’s a good idea to request a CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™.  You can either make a direct request through their website or ask our sales team, who keeps up-to-date reports on file. The areas this report covers include:

  • Service and accident reports
  • Registration history
  • Open recall notifications
  • Warranty information
  • Commercial or personal use

Employee speaking with customer inside a used car dealership

Employee speaking with customer sitting inside a used car

Part Two: Take A Closer Look

You’ve picked out a few options online, checked the vehicle history report for prior issues, and are finally ready to sit behind the wheel. At this stage, take all the time you need to find exactly what you want. We recommend starting with the vehicle’s exterior and working your way inside.


Starting with the tires, inspect each wheel for visible signs of wear or damage. Inspect the sidewalls for cracks or bulging.

You should also bring along a penny to check each tire’s tread depth. Stick the penny into the tread well with Lincoln’s head pointing into the tire. If his forehead is fully covered, the tires are in safe condition.

Next, ask the salesperson to start the engine and turn on the exterior lights. Stroll around the vehicle to make sure each light properly functions. This also is a good time to look for any dents or scratches.

You should also take note of how the engine sounds. Did the engine start up right away? Do you hear any pings or whizzing noises? Finally, look underneath the vehicle. Any signs of fluid leaks or pooling? If you notice any glaring issues, request to have the vehicle re-inspected.


While sitting behind the wheel, make it a point to check every knob, switch, and mechanical feature. Turn on the radio and play with the stereo settings. You should also check to make sure each window easily opens and closes. Notice any cracks in the glass?

Turn on the heat and AC while paying close attention to the strength. Any peculiar odors or scents? What’s the condition of the upholstery? Finally, take a moment to sit in each area of the vehicle. How does the headroom and legroom compare between the front and rear seats?

Customer test-driving used car

Part Three: Give It a Spin

Here’s where the rubber literally meets the road. A quick test drive will reveal how the vehicle handles and brakes under various driving conditions. Make sure to also take note of how the vehicle sounds and how much exterior noise enters the cabin.

Take a Test Drive Today!

Are you ready to jump inside today? If so, visit Key Cars or go online to schedule a test drive around the Milford, Manchester, and Middletown today!

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