A used car offers the opportunity to own a dependable vehicle without the larger financial commitment of buying a new make and model. But despite the lower price-tag, you still want to make sure the car is reliable and meets certain standards. The best way to do this is to know what to look for when buying a used car; a few of the most important considerations are discussed below.

What Should You Look for in a Used Car?

1. Mileage

Mileage tells you a lot about a vehicle and how long it will continue to be trustworthy. High mileage could indicate that certain vehicle parts may need to be replaced in the near future. But don't immediately disregard a high-mileage car. Much depends on how well the vehicle has been maintained. A well-maintained vehicle will have a track record of regular oil changes and service updates according to the manufacturer's recommendations. A poorly maintained vehicle will have a scattershot history of service appointments, a lack of attention to safety recalls, and obvious signs of physical neglect, like windshield cracks. Consult the car’s history report so you can see the maintenance record before making a decision. CARFAX™ is the most popular resource for this; you will need the car's vehicle identification number, or, if the car is currently registered, you can use the license plate number.

2. Condition

used carAlways perform an inspection of the exterior and interior of any used car you're considering. On the exterior, look for damage, mismatched paint, rust, and leaks under the vehicle. On the interior, check for worn or damaged upholstery, musty smells that could indicate mold growth, and check the floormats and roof to make sure they're dry and not absorbing liquid from a leak. Turn the key ignition and see if any dashboard warning lights stay on. At the same time, understand that no used car will be in perfect condition. Some wear is to be expected.

3. Engine 

Lift the hood, and give the engine a good visual check as well. Be sure that all hoses and belts are secure and not worn or frayed. Look for any green stains on or around the top of the radiator, as these could signify a leak. The radiator has a large cap and is located near the front, in close proximity to the engine. See that the battery is free of rust and corrosion; if it has a built-in indicator on top, look for a green charge, which means the battery has sufficient power in it.


If a used car ticks off all the above boxes, it's likely a wise investment. Jack Kain Ford Inc. offers a full selection of used and new cars to customers throughout Central Kentucky. Since 1953, they have been an area leader in vehicle sales, and they offer a convenient, onsite quick lane service center to handle all repair and maintenance needs. Call (888) 685-1211 or visit them online to learn more about their current inventory.