How to Spot Defects in a Used Car?

While purchasing a used car has the potential to save you a great deal of money, these vehicles can also become veritable headaches should they contain problems that were not detected at the dealership.

Unlike a new vehicle, a used car will have quite a limited warranty and if a major problem should arise, you may find yourself spending a great deal of time and money on repairs.

used car

Although larger Internet portals are known for the reliable vehicles that they sell, not all companies will provide the same level of protection.

So, let us look at a few key areas of a car that you should inspect well before signing any purchase agreement.


The condition of a vehicle’s tyres is a relatively good indicator of how it handles. Front tyres that are unevenly worn are a sure sign that the car may have an alignment problem.

Powder on the hubcaps is indicative that the brakes may be low and need to be changed. Cracks along the sides will hint that the tyres have not been changed in  some time, as will severely worn or even bald treads.

All of these symptoms are indicative of a larger problem and should be taken as a sign that the vehicle may not be a good choice.


The importance of a functional set of brakes cannot be overstated, but remember that both the front (disc) and the rear (drum) brakes should be checked. This can accomplished during the test drive. Brakes that squeak may signal that they need to be changed.

A “grinding” sound will indicate that the rotors are likewise damaged. Should the brake pedal feel a bit “spongy”, there may be an issue with a reservoir that holds the brake fluid called the master cylinder. All of these issues can be quite costly and should be taken up with the dealership.


A good sign as to the condition of a used car is what condition the undercarriage is in. Is there a great deal of rust that can be seen?  Are there strange wet spots in various locations? Is there any visible sign that part of the structure has actually rusted through into the interior?

These signals will display how much the previous owner had cared for the vehicle and if the undercarriage is in poor condition, it is a safe bet that the car may have further issues in the near future. Thankfully, most larger dealers such as Carcraft will check these features well before they offer up a car for sale.


One of the best ways to tell if an engine is functioning properly is by the colour of the exhaust emitted.  Normally, the smoke should be clear to slightly white (in colder temperatures). Black or brown smoke can be a sign that the transmission may be experiencing problems.

Bluish-white smoke is a signal that the vehicle is burning too much oil.  This is often caused by leaning gaskets within the engine. Once again, such repairs may not be worth the time or the money.

Last but not the least, Getting a Ministry of Transport test or MOT Wellingborough is also an essential part which you should not ignore, especially while buying a used vehicle at sale. This is important to make sure that the vehicle you are buying meets minimum safety standards and levels of exhaust emissions set out by the DVSA.