The Uptime Car Buying Checklist

by John Eshan

Car buying is a big deal. Before you head to the dealership, make a list of nice-to-haves and essentials to help narrow down the options and strengthen your position when it comes time to negotiate. This checklist will provide protection from costly mistakes you might otherwise make without a thorough inspection.

1. Check the Vehicle’s History

A car history report, available from several companies which combines a variety of records to give you an overview of the used car’s history. To pull up this report, you’ll need the vehicle identification number (VIN). Check for major accident records, odometer fraud (showing more mileage than actual), flood damage, and recalls that aren’t listed on the manufacturer’s website.

It also details the car’s ownership history, liens and title issues. The car’s history isn’t a guarantee of the current mechanical condition of the vehicle, but it can help you gauge how much wear and tear to expect. For example, if the odometer shows the car has been driven a lot of miles, its tyres may be worn down. This would be expensive to repair, so you’ll want to factor in the cost of new tyres into your budget. This step is particularly important when buying a used car.

2. Check The Vehicle’s Warranty

In addition to being able to tell a lot about a vehicle’s history from the outside, a used car inspection checklist must also look at the interior and the details that can be hidden by a professional. This includes tyres, which are easy to neglect and can be expensive to repair when they wear down, and electrical systems that are easily damaged by water. A warranty by VIN is the best way to determine if a car’s manufacturer warranty is still valid. It can be done by contacting the dealership or, if it’s an independent company that provides warranties, the warranty provider.

Manual data entry is time-consuming and error-prone. With Rossum, your teams can automatically read and capture Pre-purchase inspection checklists for faster, more accurate results. Learn how our automated checklist solution can drive efficiency and growth for your organization. Contact us today to schedule a demo. We’ll be happy to show you the benefits of automated, intelligent checklists.

3. Test Drive The Vehicle

The vehicle’s test drive is an essential step in the buying process. It’s important to take your time during this portion of the process to evaluate how it performs and feels. You should also take this opportunity to look for damage, like scratches or dents, on the outside of the car. Many dealerships have a predetermined route that they ask you to follow while on the test drive, which is okay, but it’s important to drive on a variety of different roads to get a true feel for the way the vehicle drives in a wide range of situations. This should include flat stretches, hills, side streets, and highway driving.

Make sure to test the brakes by stepping on the pedal (when safe) and observing how the vehicle decelerates. It’s also a good idea to try parking and do three point turns. And remember, you should also be able to comfortably enter and exit the vehicle without bumping your head.

4. Negotiate

Whether the car buying process takes place face-to-face at a dealership or in an email chain with a private seller, it’s essential to come into the negotiation prepared. That means knowing the specific vehicle(s) you’re interested in, as well as the key numbers related to those vehicles. Yoon says a strong starting offer can help buyers get a fair deal. However, she recommends avoiding a lowball offer that reflects too much of a lack of research.

When negotiating, be sure to ask for the total price of the vehicle, including all fees and taxes. The average transaction price for each model is listed on CR’s car model pages, and it can provide a target to aim for during negotiations. In addition, be wary of add-ons like tire protection plans and antitheft upgrades, which are often unnecessary.


Use this car buying checklist to get the vehicle you want at a price that works. You’ll be able to negotiate more effectively and protect your money. Manual data entry and traditional OCR are expensive and error-prone. Rossum uses AI to capture Pre-purchase car inspection checklists faster, more accurately and at a fraction of the cost.

Related Posts